"The behavior here [by haredim] was (an act). The amazing thing is that once we got off the bus all the men moved to the front. We mustn't remain silent in the face of this process, which is basically a detachment from the State."
'Kosher' bus passengers to MK: Go marry a goy
Haredim aboard bus in which men and women sit separately protest 'provocation' by lawmakers. Woman: I choose to sit at back of bus. MK Hotovely: Their behavior was an act
Omro Efraim • Ynet
Members of the Knesset's Committee on the Status of Women boarded a 'kosher' bus travelling from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem Thursday morning to examine the gender separation up close.
During the ride, one of the passengers told Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, the committee's chairperson, to "go marry a goy." Other passengers complained against the lawmakers' "provocation," while other haredim chose not to ride the bus after noticing the camera crew on board.
One passenger called out, "Why are you disturbing us. We just want to ride the bus. We are law-abiding citizens."
Another haredi told Hotovely, "Let us live. The press is latching on to us. I need to reach a hospital. You are delaying the bus. I will lose my place in line because of you."
Men and women voluntarily sit separately aboard 'kosher' bus lines.
The haredi men initially sat at the back of the bus because the camera crew was seated up front, but they moved to the front once the camera crew and MKs got off. At this point Hotovely decided to board the bus again, claiming the haredi men sat in the back only because of the media's presence.
"The behavior here was (an act). The amazing thing is that once we got off the bus all the men moved to the front. We mustn't remain silent in the face of this process, which is basically a detachment from the State," the MK said.
An ultra-Orthodox woman who sat at the back of the bus told Ynet, "I choose to sit here. No one forces me to. You are the ones who are disrupting our lives by coming here."
Ariel Malka, an ultra-Orthodox resident of Beit Shemesh said, "I do not understand why the MKs came here. I support equality in a democratic state, but why are they trying to provoke us? The Halacha forbids men and women to sit together. Why is that so difficult to understand?"
While in Beit Shemesh, Hotovely and MK Shlomo Molla of Kadima also visited the school of an eight-year-old girl who was spat on by a haredi man for not dressing "modesty enough." The girl has become a symbol of the struggle against fanatic ultra-Orthodox and religious coercion.
Also on Thursday, Rabbi Natan Kapustin, one of the ultra-Orthodox leaders in Beit Shemesh, met with local police officials in an attempt to restore peace in the community and prevent provocations.
During the meeting Kapustin announced his decision to cancel a haredi rally planned for Thursday night and asked police to take steps to calm the situation down. The haredim wanted to protest against the municipality's decision to remove signs calling for gender segregation in one of the local neighborhoods.
Despite the statement by the haredi woman above, halakha does not forbid men and women from sitting next to each other on buses.
Rank and file haredim have great difficulty telling the difference between the humrot, stringencies, their communities follow with the actual base line halakha, and they try to enforce those stringencies on others.
Haredi rabbis also have the same trouble distinguishing humrot from halakha.
But in their case, that difficulty usually doesn't come from actual ignorance of halakha. Instead, it comes from arrogance, from the idea that the haredi "we" is the only Torah-true way to live, and that all the great rabbis who have ever lived have been haredi.
That idea is nonsensical and even a cursory reading of history disproves those claims.
But haredi rabbis don't study history or logic or civics or science or any other secular subject, so they lack accurate frames of reference – frames of reference they would anyway ignore if those frames of reference and facts do not support the fantasies in their heads.