Yair Lapid
Photo: Yoni Hamenachem

Haredim playing with fire

Op-ed: Israelis will not allow exclusion of women from public domain in the name of religion

Could a law banning kippahs be passed in the State of Israel? Most certainly not. Such law would be immoral, invalid, and mostly impractical.


It would be immoral because wearing a yarmulke hurts nobody, and any attempt to undermine a person’s right for self-determination and freedom is a despicable and ugly move.


It would be invalid because a human society cannot exist if it shuns whole groups within it.


It would be impractical because our religious citizens would clearly go mad. And rightfully so.


After all, this is what is holy in their view. This is their faith, this is their way of life, this is their way to express themselves, and there are things that one cannot compromise on – regardless of how much good will one musters.


The first time a police officer would attempt to remove a kippah from a Jew’s head, this country would go up in flames. In the terrible event of such struggle, by the way, I would be on the side of the man with the kippah.


So if this is the case, why do so many haredim fail to understanding that the attempt to oppress women – repress their voice, their looks, and their presence in the public domain – could cause most of the Israeli public (including many religious and haredi Israelis) to go mad?


This is because we haven't yet told them, in no uncertain terms, that this is sacred to us.


This is not just one more minor, annoying abuse we’ve become accustomed to already. This is not a budgetary matter or a municipal bylaw, but rather, the emotional and ideological basis of our lives.


We won't become Iran

The State of Israel will not see women excluded from the public domain. This cannot happen and must not happen. In some way we bear some of the fault, because we did not tell the haredim immediately that this issue is not open for negotiation.


The haredim (and some members of the increasingly extremist national-religious camp) erred, possibly inescapably, in the manner in which they interpreted the public's silence in the face of gender-segregated buses, separate sidewalks for men and women, the removal of posters from buses, the ban on female drivers in Bnei Brak, and the attempt to silence female singers in the IDF.


As opposed to what they thought, it was not the silence of indifference, but rather, the silence of shock. Their conduct was so ridiculous and crazed that we were convinced it was a mistake and that any moment now they would regain their senses, because they too do not wish to live in Iran.


However, they do want this, and we shall not let them; because this is the kippah of Israel’s sane public (which includes, as we must repeatedly stress, many religious Israelis and possibly most of them.) This is the pork we cannot eat, this is the Shabbat we are unwilling to desecrate, and this is the idol worship we are unwilling to adopt.


On this issue, we shall not see the usual game where each side pulls in a different direction, and eventually we compromise somewhere in the middle. This time there will be no negotiations. There will be no intermediate solution and there is no third way.


The haredim must know that they are playing with fire. The equality of women is a holy Jewish value, and nobody messes with that.



פרסום ראשון: 12.06.11, 11:26
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