We shall start with a question: Does the average haredi woman feel humiliated as result of the gender-segregated bus arrangement, or does she feel proud of it?
As most haredi women are not on Facebook, I did this survey on your behalf. The result was surprising: Most of these women feel comfortable with this arrangement. A large part of them believe it was created for their benefit – the separation grants them a private space and allows them to stay in their natural environment.
A woman who does not adhere to the mitzvahs will never understand the embarrassment that a haredi woman feels when she is forced to rub up against men in a crowded bus. Nobody expects such non-haredi women to understand it – after all, it is an inner behavioral code, a habit that stems from being educated to live a life of modesty.
Those who worked to promote the bus arrangement claim that the haredi community, including its women, is greatly enthusiastic about it. We should keep in mind that these are internal bus routes that connect haredi neighborhoods and towns. The day a delusional functionary will demand to expand this arrangement to bus routes used by the general public, we shall see wall-to-wall haredi protest.
The following should be said clearly: One who humiliates a woman only because he wishes to travel on a segregated bus line is no less than an idiot. A hothead who resorts to violence, even if only verbal, against a woman who sits at the wrong place should be tried and punished no less than a hilltop youth who breaks into an IDF base and jeopardizes the lives of soldiers.
However, a lady who creates a provocation and invites photojournalists to document her impressive ability to anger haredim deserves the same condemnation.
Gender-segregated buses must not turn into law, that is, a religious duty enforced by authorities. These bus routes must remain an agreed-upon internal haredi code, which haredi men and women seek and adopt among themselves.
In the conflict between the secular Israel and haredi society, we must accept the existence of a community that numbers almost one million people and merely seeks to live within its own boundaries, in line with its faith. Any attempt to intervene in this community’s internal affairs may result in a damaging reaction.
The writer is a haredi journalist