Jerusalem police chief urges rabbis to condemn humiliation of women
Niso Shaham tells MKs forced gender segregation 'going on under our noses for years'; says haredi man called female soldier 'slut' because she refused to sit in back of bus
Moran Azulay • Ynet
Jerusalem District Police Commander Niso Shaham called on Israel's rabbis to condemn the exclusion of women from the public sphere.
Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset's Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning, Shaham said, "On my way over here I was informed of an incident in which a haredi man called a female soldier 'slut' because she refused to sit at the back of an Egged bus. We arrested him."
The commander said he has tasked a senior police officer with leading the efforts to curb women's exclusion in the capital. "We've already detained many people," he said.
"Enforcement alone will not provide the solution. We've also been taking down signs (calling for gender segregation), but there are many more things that need to be done. This has been going on right under our noses for many years," the police commander told the MKs.
"Kosher" bus lines, in which men and women sit separately, have been operating in the capital for the past five years. Forced gender segregation aboard buses in Israel made headlines recently when Tanya Rosenblit refused to sit at the back of a public bus travelling from Ashdod to Jerusalem.
Shaham said police authorized Tuesday evening's mass rally in Beit Shemesh "because we believe the voices of those who oppose the exclusion of women must be heard."
However, the police commander stressed that "a few fanatics do not represent the entire ultra-Orthodox community."
Shaham also said undercover police officers have been riding the city's buses as part of the effort to prevent forced gender segregation.
MK Amir Peretz (Labor) opened the meeting by saying, "The fight against women's exclusion is not religious. It is about human dignity.
"When I served as the head of Sderot's local council, haredim tried to prevent youth movements from organizing activities on Fridays and cut the power lines of cultural centers that operated on Fridays. The mayor evaded the issue, but I declared that no sector will enforce its way of life on others. The local religious community retained its customs without forcing them on the rest of the population."
Transportation Ministry Director-General Alex Langer said during the meeting that bus drivers have been instructed to protect the passengers' rights, but added that "they cannot educate the public."