An Israeli court ordered two haredi newspapers – Yated Ne'eman, the mouthpiece of the Degel HaTorah faction, the non-hasidic half of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party; and the Sefardi haredi Shas Party’s Yom Le'yom – to run campaign ads for the new haredi all-woman political party B'Zechutan – despite the fact that both newspapers’ rabbis vehemently oppose the all-female party.
Above: Ruth Colian
Israeli Court Orders Haredi Papers To Publish Campaign Ads From New All-Female Haredi Political Party – Despite Rabbis’ Objections
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
An Israeli court ordered two haredi newspapers – Yated Ne'eman, the mouthpiece of the Degel HaTorah faction, the non-hasidic half of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party; and the Sefardi haredi Shas Party’s Yom Le'yom – to run campaign ads for the new haredi all-woman political party B'Zechutan – despite the fact that both newspapers’ rabbis vehemently oppose the all-female party, Ynet reported.
With the help of the Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women and the Center for Women's Justice, B’Zechutan’s chairwoman Ruth Colian petitioned the court, arguing that haredi print newspapers and magazines are the only media outlets the vast majority of B’Zechutan’s prospective voters have free access to and read.
The haredi papers argued that they cover parties whose views are not the same as their own party’s views. The papers also claimed that running a B’Zechutan’s campaign ad could offend their readership.
Judge Jacob Spasser of the Lod District Court rejected the haredi newspapers arguments and reportedly issued an interim order Friday mandating that each of the two named haredi newspapers publish at least one of B’Zechutan’s campaign ads before election day, which is Tuesday.
"This is an ad which is public in nature, and mostly targets women in the haredi sector. There's considerable public importance in running it, an importance that might be higher in light of the prohibition on discrimination and the principle of equality in elections,” Spasser ruled.
The ruling pleased women activists who have long complained about illegal discrimination by haredi entities – discrimination used to keep women out of positions of power and to keep them un-represented.
“This is a historic legal precedent which determines that in certain circumstances, considerations of equality for women and election equality, as well as preventing discrimination against women and their preventing their exclusion, surpass property rights of commercial bodies like newspapers. This is the height of women's exclusion. Haredi women are not only prevented in practice from realizing the basic human right of running and being elected for Knesset, they are also denied the equal opportunity to inform their potential voters that they are running independently,” Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, the head of the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University's Law Faculty, reportedly said.
B'Zechutan’s Colian agreed.
"By having the haredi newspapers refuse to allow us to reach our voters, we're excluded twice. First, we're not allowed to reach our audience of voters, and secondly, instead of using the time we have left until the elections to campaign, we have to turn to different courts in order to realize our right to be elected,” Colian reportedly said.
Haredi rabbis and politicians have repeatedly threatened women who have tried to run for Knesset or other elected posts and have used their political power to scuttle female candidacies. As B'Zechutan was about to announce its formation, Rabbi Mordechai Blau, the head of the Ashkenazi haredi modesty squad associated with the United Torah Judaism Party, threatened Colian and her supporters with excommunication and threatened all types of reprisals against their families – including barring their children from all haredi schools – unless the women ceased and desisted from their political activity.
No major haredi rabbis condemned Blau’s remarks or distanced themselves from it.