Israeli women are required to sit in the back of the bus, enter through the back doors and "dress modestly." To make matters worse, ten years ago an ultra-Orthodox (haredi) community petitioned for segregated bus lines and created another misogynistic product of religion: the segregated bus-lines. There are now more than 55 gender-segregated bus lines running throughout Israel. According to the New Israel Fund, women who refuse to sit in the back of the bus are frequently threatened verbally and physically by haredi men who "enforce" the segregation system.
This December, Transport Minister Israel Katz (Likud) will present his position on gender-segregated bus lines. The Ministry of Transport has ordered a decision to be made after publishing a report, which ruled that these bus lines are illegal because they humiliate and discriminate against women passengers.
The New Israel Fund is asking U.S. citizens to speak out against these discriminatory practices and send letters Minister Katz protesting this practice.
In the past, Israel has taken many commendable steps to further gender equality, and we call upon you to make the right decision in promoting and defending women’s rights. At the very least, please uphold the recommendations of the Special Committee and insist that no woman ever be coerced into entering or sitting in the back of the bus. Even better, require those who insist on such segregation to provide their own, privately-funded, transportation.
We in the U.S. cannot stand idly by while Israel grants a small minority the power to dictate what Judaism is or to make halacha into an instrument of discrimination and segregation. We hope we can count on you to prove your commitment to equality and Israel’s pluralistic democracy.