Earlier today, Israel’s High Court of Justice approved a 104 million shekel (about $26.9 million) class action suit against a haredi radio station that refuses to allow women to be on-air personalities or be interviewed for any extended period of time.
High Court Allows Women’s Group To Sue Haredi Radio Station Over Exclusion Of Women
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Earlier today, Israel’s High Court of Justice approved a 104 million shekel (about $26.9 million) class action suit against a haredi radio station that refuses to allow women to be on-air personalities or be interviewed for any extended period of time, Ha'aretz reported.
Kol Barama Radio’s original policy was to have no women on-air in any capacity, but repeated complaints to Israel’s broadcasting authority and to the courts caused it to allow women to appear on-air – but only very briefly.
The High Court rejected Kol Barama Radio’s appeal which had asked the High Court to toss out the suit, which is being brought by Kolech, an Orthodox women’s legal aid nonprofit.
In their ruling, High Court Justices Yoram Danziger, Esther Hayut and Daphne Barak-Erez supported a district court’s criticism of Kol Barama’s exclusion of women. The district court ruled the Kolech suit could go forward, even though no individuals suing are themselves directly injured parties, and High Court affirmed that ruling.
In the ruling, speaking for the court Justice Danziger expressed “disgust at this phenomenon [of exclusion of women in the public sphere], which seems only to be growing, to the extent that it reaches the level of prohibited discrimination.” Exclusion of women, Danziger also noted, “fatally wounds human dignity, and crudely impairs the basic and core rights of women.”
The High Court ordered Kol Barama to pay 100,000 shekels (about $26,000) in court costs along with 50,000 shekels (about $13,000) to pay Kolech’s attorneys.
The director of Kolech, attorney Yael Rockman, said the ruling was precedent setting because it was the first time the court has addressed the question in principle of the exclusion of women. Moreover, Rockman said, “The court had reiterated the importance of Kolech in making women’s voices heard” and in representing women.
After the ruling, a defiant Kol Barama claimed Kolech’s complaints were all invalid because the women complaining are all “Reform.” It also claimed it would continue to do exactly what it has been doing – excluding women.
“[The women suing us are all] Reform and are completely unconnected to the station and our listeners.… Kol Barama is a haredi station and operates according to the directives of the [leading haredi rabbis] to protect the dignity and glorification of women in keeping with the position of halakha [Orthodox Jewish law] and accepted laws and norms and it will continue to operate in this way in the future,” the station said.