13 February 2012
The recent violent behavior of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Israeli city of Beit-Shemesh against women (in an earlier reported case an 8 year old girl who was spat on and called "whore") has escalated.
The woman attacked happens to be the sister of a friend of mine. This link in a recent series of anti-female attacks in Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood is especially grotesque when considering that as she sought cover from the mob in a nearby apartment complex, the inhabitants shouted and insulted her, causing her to flee and wait outside for the police to arrive. Although several suspects were arrested, all were released after questioning and the incident is no longer being pursued.
The Ultra-Orthodox spokespeople have, predictably, come out to semi-condemn the violence while making sure to reiterate the inherent value of the Jewish perception of women. They say that Judaism, unlike secular culture, defends the honor of the woman by not letting her become a mere "sex object". None have condemned the background story which provoked this violence - the forced separation of women and men on public transportation by Orthodox authorities, relegating women to the back, of course.
For a brief representation of the Orthodox perception of women as "filthy little things", here is an op-ed by Yossi Sarid, ex-Knesset Member of the Meretz Party (which fights for secular rights and for the separation of Synagogue and State).
A recent poll has caused much public discussion regarding the religousity of the Israeli public and how it will effect the future of the country's identity. This poll is nothing but an indicator that fellow atheists and humanists in Israel need to start organizing themselves to become the voice of reason, if they want to prevent the submerging of Israel into the dark ages of the rabbinic authorities.