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Religious Extremism of a Different Sort

(or maybe not so different after all): Ha'aretz reports:

Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus....

Shear, an American-Israeli woman who currently lives in Canada, says that on a recent five-week vacation to Israel, she rode the bus daily to the Old City to pray at sunrise. Though not defined by Egged as a sex-segregated "mehadrin" bus, women usually sit in the back, while men sit in the front, as a matter of custom.

"Every two or three days, someone would tell me to sit in the back, sometimes politely and sometimes not," she recalled this week in a telephone interview. "I was always polite and said 'No. This is not a synagogue. I am not going to sit in the back.'"

But Shear, a 50-year-old religious woman, says that on the morning of the 24th, a man got onto the bus and demanded her seat — even though there were a number of other seats available in the front of the bus.

"I said, I'm not moving and he said, 'I'm not asking you, I'm telling you.' Then he spat in my face and at that point, I was in high adrenaline mode and called him a son-of-a-bitch, which I am not proud of. Then I spat back. At that point, he pushed me down and people on the bus were screaming that I was crazy. Four men surrounded me and slapped my face, punched me in the chest, pulled at my clothes, beat me, kicked me. My snood [hair covering] came off. I was fighting back and kicked one of the men in his privates. I will never forget the look on his face."

Shear says that when she bent down in the aisle to retrieve her hair covering, "one of the men kicked me in the face. Thank God he missed my eye. I got up and punched him. I said, 'I want my hair covering back' but he wouldn't give it to me, so I took his black hat and threw it in the aisle."

Throughout the encounter, Shear says the bus driver "did nothing." The other passengers, she says, blamed her for not moving to the back of the bus and called her a "stupid American with no sechel [common sense.] People blamed me for not knowing my place and not going to the back of the bus where I belong."

According to Yehoshua Meyer, the eyewitness to the incident, Shear's account is entirely accurate. "I saw everything," he said. "Someone got on the bus and demanded that she go to the back, but she didn't agree. She was badly beaten and her whole body sustained hits and kicks. She tried to fight back and no one would help her. I tried to help, but someone was stopping me from getting up. My phone's battery was dead, so I couldn't call the police. I yelled for the bus driver to stop. He stopped once, but he didn't do anything. When we finally got to the Kotel [Western Wall], she was beaten badly and I helped her go to the police."

On the other hand,

"In a thorough inquiry that we conducted, we found that the bus driver does not confirm that any violence was used against the complainant," Egged spokesman Ron Ratner wrote.

"According to the driver, once he saw that there was a crowd gathering around her, he stopped the bus and went to check what was going on. He clarified to the passengers that the bus was not a mehadrin line and that all passengers on the line are permitted to sit wherever they want on the bus. After making sure that the passengers returned to their seats, he continued driving."

Preferred Customer:
Doesn't seem different at all, to me. It's behavior of a type that is depressingly routine among religious extremists, no matter what faith they belong to.
12.19.2006 1:34pm
Colin (mail):
Why are some lines mehadrin and not others? Is it determined by the neighborhoods they serve, or the time of the run?
12.19.2006 1:59pm
Paddy O. (mail):
Doesn't seem different at all, to me. It's behavior of a type that is depressingly routine among <s>religious</s> extremists, no matter what faith<i>/philosophy</i> they belong to.
12.19.2006 2:02pm
Paddy O. (mail):
Sorry about the code there, I'm using the little tabs at the top, but they don't seem to be letting me do anything. Hopefully, you can use your imagination.
12.19.2006 2:04pm
Davide:
Not quite the same.

In Muslim countries, women aren't allowed to be passengers in buses. Period.

In fact, women can't be in cars with men other than immediate family members.

So this spat, while disgusting and repulsive, just is not the same level.
12.19.2006 2:13pm
shecky (mail):
Heh... religion for ya...
12.19.2006 2:15pm
Gary McGath (www):
When people think that God has given them special authority, they think that entitles them to beat people up. And then they declare that atheists are amoral because we don't recognize a morality based on God's authority.
12.19.2006 2:15pm
U.Va. 2L (mail):
So this spat, while disgusting and repulsive, just is not the same level.

Yes. Instead of being stuck in the pre-Enlightenment days, these extremists have made it all the way to the progressive times of the Jim Crow South.
12.19.2006 2:18pm
bergo:


In Muslim countries, women aren't allowed to be passengers in buses. Period.

In fact, women can't be in cars with men other than immediate family members.

So this spat, while disgusting and repulsive, just is not the same level.


You mean in some Muslim countries? Pretty much the only country that is that restrictive is Saudi Arabia. It's certainly not true of any of the Muslim countries I have experience with.
12.19.2006 2:29pm
cathyf:
Yes, isn't it wonderful how chaste and modest these men were, as they creamed in their pants at the sheer ecstasy of beating a woman? Creamed in their pants right there on a public bus -- now that's a defense of chastity!
12.19.2006 2:37pm
Stu (mail):
This seems to somewhat reminiscent of the event in which several imams were recently kicked off an airplane.

Few conclusions should be drawn from the description, which came essentially from one participant, which I suspect had an agenda.

All members of "religious extremist" groups don't act the same way, including the one on the bus. One doesn't often find a lone woman essentially brawling with a bunch of men and then have her immediately start an e-mail campaign.

I didn't see the story in the other Israeli papers. Perhaps they didn't open Miriam's e-mail. Or perhaps Haaretz likes to cast religious Jews in the worst light possible.

Throw an extremist into a confined space with extremists of a different ilk and sparks will fly. Is it newsworthy?
12.19.2006 2:50pm
Steve:
Few conclusions should be drawn from the description, which came essentially from one participant, which I suspect had an agenda.

Yeah, if you discount the corroborating eyewitness, it's like there's no corroboration! Liberal media strikes again.
12.19.2006 3:07pm
Respondent (mail):
"Yes, isn't it wonderful how chaste and modest these men were, as they creamed in their pants at the sheer ecstasy of beating a woman? Creamed in their pants right there on a public bus -- now that's a defense of chastity!"
CathyF,
You only hurt the woman's case by exaggerating what went on. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that these men gone berzerk got any sexual pleasure from their violence, much less experienced any sexually caused bodily emissions. I suggest you look at Orin Kerr's recent post on sarcasm and give it some deep thought. You do nobody a favor by injecting uncorroborated irrelevant invective into a serious discussion about "religiously" motivated violence.
12.19.2006 3:50pm
bearing (mail) (www):
What does this story have to do with chastity or modesty? I don't see the connection.
12.19.2006 4:16pm
RV:

Throw an extremist into a confined space with extremists of a different ilk and sparks will fly. Is it newsworthy?


If her story is true, she is hardly an extremist for refusing to give up her seat.
12.19.2006 4:19pm
Stu (mail):

If her story is true, she is hardly an extremist for refusing to give up her seat.


In most parts of most countries, you would be correct. But not in a place where there are many people at the opposite extreme. She chose to do something provocative in the midst of a group that she knew could be offended to the point of violence, and in fact has been known to react violently in some instances.

Knowing what you know about certain Moslem extremists, would you sit in the middle of a group of them wearing a head covering and then take it off in their midst? And if you did, and if they asked you to put it back on or leave, would you refuse? Most people would put it back on, either because they realize that in this place and at this time, discretion is the better part of valor, or because they made a mistake. One tail of the bell curve would never have taken it off to begin with. Those at the other end of the bell curve - and "extreme" - might try and pick a fight to make a point.
12.19.2006 5:03pm
Per Son:
Stu:

What is your beef? She sat down and did not want to get up (when there was no reason to get up). Guess she had it coming?
12.19.2006 5:09pm
James Dillon (mail):
Stu,

Can you please explain, in light of the above reasoning, why we should not condemn Rosa Parks as an "extremist" in your view? It seems as if you would happily grant a heckler's veto to any group of bigots determined enough to resort to violence in defense of their own prejudices, and then blame the victim for failing to acquience to whatever unreasonable demands might be placed upon her by a group of thugs.
12.19.2006 5:10pm
Per Son:
Stu:

Was it wrong for Esther and Mordechai to oppose Haman?!
12.19.2006 5:14pm
Per Son:
Was it wrong for Judah Maccabbee and the Macabees to oppose their foes which outnumbered them 10 to 1!!?!
12.19.2006 5:15pm
J D:
That's an incredible display of cultural insensitivity. You never, ever ask an American to sit in the back of the bus. If these Haredim were unprepared to live among people who have different customs, then they should never leave home. The world is too small to support that sort of intolerance any longer.

[tongue not actually in cheek]
12.19.2006 5:23pm
tefta2 (mail):
Surely if she was beaten as badly as she says, there would have been marks on her face and body.

This reminds me of a friend who went to India about 25 years ago with her husband. She was told not to out alone, but chose not to heed that advice, went out to the market where she was beaten, kicked, cursed at and thrown in the gutter. She went back to their lodgings, packed her bags and got out of dodge.
12.19.2006 5:29pm
James Dillon (mail):
tefta2,

Is there reason to believe that there are not marks on her face and body? I don't see any pictures in Prof. Volokh's link.
12.19.2006 5:32pm
Stu (mail):

please explain, in light of the above reasoning, why we should not condemn Rosa Parks as an "extremist" in your view

I don't have a beef. I was asked what was "extreme" about refusing to move.

We should not condemn Rosa Parks because in this country, segregation by race is unacceptable and illegal. Whether she was too tired to move or tired of being told to move, she had the right to refuse to move. Miriam had the same right, because she was on a public bus rather than a religious segregated bus.

It's been said that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." In Rosa Park's case (I believe she was arrested for violating a city ordinance), her civil disobedience led to a change in the law. Most people in her situation would have obeyed the law. That makes her extreme. It does not make her bad.

Miriam's case seems similar on the surface, but it is not civil disobedience. It is more of a cultural disobedience that is unlikely to yield the same kind of result.
12.19.2006 5:36pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Yet another example of bad behavior induced by religion. Of course all the religious people will brush it off as a couple bad apples or that other bad sort of religion even while they try and blame atheists for all the bad shit done by non-believers.

Sure I understand that the average jew or christian doesn't do things like this but the behavior of the moderate is ultimately what encourages the extremist. It is the moderates notion that religious belief shouldn't be called out as false or wrong that allows these sort of extreme beliefs to flourish.
12.19.2006 6:04pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Stu,

Wait so what Rose Parks did was okay because it was illegal? So if instead of a law barring blacks from sitting at the front of the bus it was just a custom enforced the way this custom is then it would have been wrong for her to insist on sitting in the front?

Surely not. The only thing which is different about this example is that it is religiously motivated. Yet this hardly matters. Jim Crow was no less onerous or more justified when it was supported from the pulpit.

If I believe that the aliens in the UFOs will vaporize earth if too many people wear black my craziness doesn't give me the right to tell other people what to wear. Similarly if you believe some invisible dude in the sky doesn't want women in the front of the bus that's your own problem.

These people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If they were a group of crazy atheists kicking someone because they were praying on the bus (doesn't happen but hypothetically) they would be (at least in the states and I imagine in israel).
12.19.2006 6:14pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Stu says: > Miriam's case seems similar on the surface, but it is not civil disobedience. It is more of a cultural disobedience that is unlikely to yield the same kind of result.


Excuse me, but are you suggesting Mirian must move when requested to do so by bullies because the law does not require it? Or that bullies have every right to bend others to their will provided the bullies don't actually enact that into law?

What the heck good would it have done Rosa if, after moving, the law were changed, but everyone insisted she sit in the back because our culture dictated blacks sit there?
12.19.2006 6:16pm
Shelby (mail):
I'm still curious about Stu's comment:

This seems to somewhat reminiscent of the event in which several imams were recently kicked off an airplane.

Totally, I couldn't believe how everyone in the plane suddenly started spitting on them when they were just sitting there quietly and not acting at all threatening or apparently preparing violence. Then people clawed their clothes off them, dragged them into the aisle and began hitting and kicking them...

Oh, I'm sorry, different imams I guess.
12.19.2006 6:56pm
Cameron:
I've never been to Israel, but I'm appalled that there are buses that are apparently officially segregated. This woman was absolutely an extremist--and rightfully so. To paraphrase a great man, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
12.19.2006 7:01pm
Stu (mail):
Wait so what Rose Parks did was okay because it was illegal?
The ordinance was illegal, her act would not have been wrong, and I don't think it would have provoked the same kind of violent response, either - the average southerner was not an extremist.
[the] thing which is different about this example is that it is religiously motivated.

That's only part of it. These were extremists, even among very right wing orthodox. They were wrong, but if she was going to intentionally provoke something, she should have been prepared for it. She was making the same mistake - wrong paradigm.
If they were a group of crazy atheists kicking someone because they were praying on the bus (doesn't happen but hypothetically) they would be [prosecuted](at least in the states and I imagine in israel).
On the contrary, the atheists would get away with it because the government is secular and tolerates the religious, and the haredim will get away with it because the gov't won't mix in. Again, check your premises.
Similarly if you believe some invisible dude in the sky doesn't want women in the front of the bus that's your own problem.
The invisible dude I believe in would consider both parties wrong (or stupid). I have a right to walk alone unarmed in Detroit tonight, too. Does that make me right? Should I expect the invisible dude to protect me?
are you suggesting Mirian must move when requested to do so by bullies because the law does not require it? Or that bullies have every right to bend others to their will provided the bullies don't actually enact that into law?
I am suggesting that Miriam tried to be Rosa Parks in the wrong place and time and in the wrong way, and that she should have known this would happen.
What the heck good would it have done Rosa if, after moving, the law were changed, but everyone insisted she sit in the back because our culture dictated blacks sit there?
Are you forgetting that after segregation laws changed it took the National Guard in some cases to force integration and protect African-Americans? Thee were there, at least in part, because there were undoubtedly some crazies uninterested in the law. Would you have sent your black children to a white school without such protection? I suggest that few would have, and that those few would have been risking their children's safety.
12.19.2006 7:43pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Davide,

In Saudi Arabia families frequently hire third world males as drivers for the women. Women are seen all the time with these drivers, and their relations with such drivers are a running joke with the Saudis. On the other hand, a non-related male not engaged as a driver is not supposed to be driving women around.
12.19.2006 7:58pm
Stu (mail):
I'm still curious about Stu's comment:

This seems to somewhat reminiscent of the event in which several imams were recently kicked off an airplane.

Totally, I couldn't believe how everyone in the plane suddenly started spitting on them when they were just sitting there quietly and not acting at all threatening or apparently preparing violence. . . Oh, I'm sorry, different imams I guess.
The parallel is that, from the descriptions of their behavior, it seems they were trying to provoke an incident. And they succeeded. They had no reason necessarily to expect violence, but every reason to expect some kind of incident. They were removed from the plane before the doors closed. Are you sure people would not have acted to defend themselves if they felt threatened? You can debate all you want whether the passengers were reasonable in their fears. I am sure it was quite visceral for some, if the descriptions are not exaggerated.
12.19.2006 7:58pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
What else would one expect from religious people? The creator of the universe wants me to have that seat on the bus....
12.19.2006 8:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Must be something in the water over there.

All major religions have sub-subsects which attract buttheads. It's the buttheadness that comes first, then the appropriate sub-subsect is sought.

Unfortunately, in the liberal world, this gives the buttheads the cover of religion.
12.19.2006 8:35pm
Malvolio:
Wait so what Rose Parks did was okay because it was illegal?
The ordinance was illegal, her act would not have been wrong, and I don't think it would have provoked the same kind of violent response, either - the average southerner was not an extremist.

You mean, except for this, and this and this and well, about 300 years of US history.

Yes, the average Southerner of the Jim Crow era wasn't a violent extremist, no more than the average Jew or Muslim is. That isn't the question; the question is -- what did the average Southerner, Jew, or Muslim do and say about the extremists in their midst?
12.19.2006 9:28pm
Respondent (mail):
"Sure I understand that the average jew or christian doesn't do things like this but the behavior of the moderate is ultimately what encourages the extremist. It is the moderates notion that religious belief shouldn't be called out as false or wrong that allows these sort of extreme beliefs to flourish."
Stu,
The same could be said of any secular belief of right and wrong as well. Anyone can take the next step and decide to take his or her notion of what's right or wrong into his/her own hands. That doesn't mean that the person's belief should be connsidered false or wrong. The ones to be condemned are the extremists- those who insist on violently enforcing their beliefs on others.
"That's an incredible display of cultural insensitivity. You never, ever ask an American to sit in the back of the bus. "
True... although their are some Hareidi private bus companies in the US whose busses are de facto sex segregated, by virtue of the fact that passengers of both sexes consider it a breach of modesty for the sexes to sit together. Nonetheless, at least in NY, where legally each passenger is entitled to a seat on a first come first serve basis (I don't know whether or not the law is a federal one), a passenger's insistence on breaking the norm will be accepted. This seperate seating practice doesn't remotely compare to racial segregation, where the races were segregated because of one race viewing the other as inferior or "unclean". The sexual segregation takes place chiefly as an effort to minimize interaction between the sexes, interaction which often may contain some sexual undertones. Of course, it goes without saying that this must be voluntary on a public bus (except where it is the law, not the case with the bus line at issue), and that the conduct at issue here was completely unjustifiable. However, I still wouldn't make the off-the-cuff and ultimately unfounded connection between the sexual segregation aat issue here, and the Rosa Parks incident.
12.19.2006 9:36pm
Respondent (mail):
Erratum: The second quote was from JD and meant to be addressed to him. Also aat--> at
12.19.2006 9:40pm
Mark Field (mail):

their are some Hareidi private bus companies in the US whose busses are de facto sex segregated


They only kiss other men?

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here till Saturday.
12.19.2006 9:46pm
Stu (mail):
The first quote was not mine.
It is the moderates notion that religious belief shouldn't be called out as false or wrong that allows these sort of extreme beliefs to flourish.
It is not necessary to either analyze or denigrate religious beliefs to demand and be entitled to civility.
12.19.2006 10:00pm
Respondent (mail):
Sorry. I see it was logicnazi's comment.
12.19.2006 11:04pm
Public_Defender (mail):

The creator of the universe wants me to have that seat....


Great line.
12.20.2006 8:34am
Tom952 (mail):
It is not surprising that religious extremists exist in Israel. I've read several tales like this where orthodox extremists openly attack people in Israel with impunity.

I wonder why the police and prosecuters there allow them to get away with it? Surely the average Israeli doesn't really believe these people are acting for God?
12.20.2006 9:01am
RV:

The sexual segregation takes place chiefly as an effort to minimize interaction between the sexes, interaction which often may contain some sexual undertones. Of course, it goes without saying that this must be voluntary on a public bus (except where it is the law, not the case with the bus line at issue), and that the conduct at issue here was completely unjustifiable. However, I still wouldn't make the off-the-cuff and ultimately unfounded connection between the sexual segregation at issue here, and the Rosa Parks incident.

But it is not everyone just trying to be modest and avoid flirting with each other or rubbing against one another when sitting next to each other. (I am a woman in the US and, all things being equal, if I have a choice on the subway I will take the seat next to another woman rather than a man, so I see the point.) Here, there is a definite implication that the females are inferior if they always have take the furthest seats.

And, in this case, the interaction between the sexes would have been minimized by the man taking one of the open seats by other men rather than confronting Miriam and getting into a huge fight that caused her to lose her head covering.
12.20.2006 10:11am
mbg (mail):

"It is the moderates notion that religious belief shouldn't be called out as false or wrong that allows these sort of extreme beliefs to flourish."


logcnazi,
there is no such notion in israel. people who are not religious have no problem calling out religious belief, particularly as manifested by haredim, as wrong, stupid, or other not nice things. even the (allegedly) more moderate, in the sense of more-modern-lifestly-living, religious people spare no love for the army-avoiding, work-avoiding haredim. In fact, I might argue that the existence of parties and movements that are unabashedly ant-haredi, as well as the popularity of anti-haredi epithets, etc, contributes more to solidifying the intransigence of the haredi world than a lot of other things. they feel they are "under attack" and need to resist evrything that might smell of "outside" influence.
(of course, which came first, the resistance to modernity or the hostility to backwardness? chicken. egg.)
12.20.2006 10:23am
mbg (mail):
by the way, regarding all the comments of the "when in rome" sort, or about what americans in other foreign situations would do, recall:
this woman is probably not visually distinguishable from israel haredim until she opens her mouth and speaks with an american accent - she was sitting on the bus in a snood, after all. furthermore, she is unlikely to appreciate a "when in rome, do as the romans" attitude, since she considers rome (aka jerusalem ;) )to be a place where she is, by virtue of being a religious jew, as roman as anyone. the question of where women should sit on the but is better seen as an inter-jewish struggle than a haredi vs american culture clash.
12.20.2006 10:30am
Public_Defender (mail):
It seems like Jews have more religious freedom in the US than in Israel. Sure, there are random acts of violence in the US, but nothing like the systematic physical intimidation of the Israeli Right.

Remember earlier this year when gay Jews couldn't march in Jerusalem because it would have taken too much security to protect them from violence from fellow Jews? Could you imagine a local government in the US telling Jews that they were so hated the government couldn't protect them? Only in Israel.

Also, in the US, Reform or Conservative rabbis can conduct marriages, but not in Israel.

In the US, Russian jews can marry other Jews without having to go through a conversion that satisfies the local Orthodox rabbi.

In the US, if you disagree with your local rabbis about what's Kosher and what's not, you can still buy and sell food that you think is Kosher and they do not. In Israel, you can get shut down.

It's tragic that to get true religious freedom, Jews have to leave Israel.
12.20.2006 10:47am
James Dillon (mail):

I still wouldn't make the off-the-cuff and ultimately unfounded connection between the sexual segregation aat issue here, and the Rosa Parks incident.


Respondent,

A couple of responses to this. First, I would remind you that the official line in much of the segregationist South was the same as the one you offer for Israel-- not that backs were inferior, but only that blacks and whites were "intended" by some natural order to remain socially separate, and that enforced segregation was actually for the good of both rather than a tool of oppression. Hence the "separate but equal" rhetoric of Plessy v. Ferguson. Second, whatever the ideological justification for gender segregation in Israel may be, it's clear from the story that these men, in this situation, viewed the victim as an unruly subordinate who needed to be taught her proper place. Therefore I think the Rosa Parks analogy is quite well-founded.
12.20.2006 10:49am
James Dillon (mail):
Public_Defender,

I agree with your general point, but I don't think the gay pride parade is a particularly good example. The objection to the parade, I believe, was not that the participants were Jewish, but that they were gay. I can certainly (and unfortunately) imagine places in the United States in which homosexuals might be forbidden from marching because the local police lack the ability to protect them from a hostile community.
12.20.2006 10:51am
Per Son:
I must educate you all:

The issue in Israel regarding marriage has nothing to do with Judaism. Instead, it is that there is no such thing as a secular wedding in Israel. Each religion establishes the legal requirements of marriage. It is not just Jews not marrying non-Jews and the like. Christians cannot marry Muslims, Hindus cannot marry Shintos, etc.
12.20.2006 11:27am
Public_Defender (mail):

The issue in Israel regarding marriage has nothing to do with Judaism. Instead, it is that there is no such thing as a secular wedding in Israel. Each religion establishes the legal requirements of marriage.


And what right do Reform and Conservative Jews have to "establish the legal requirements of marriage" in Israel? The answer is "none." To get religous freedom, they have to come to the US.

Israel lacks religious freedom for Jews because the government permits some Jews (actually, a minority of Jews) to set the "legal requirements" for all other Jews.

I guess you could say that the Israeli government forces Conservative and Reform Jews to the back of the bus.
12.20.2006 11:39am
Duncan:
Um, there seems to be some (all too typical) confusion about Rosa Parks. The law requiring her to give up her seat was not illegal as far as I know; her refusal to comply with it was why she was arrested. Stu writes, "We should not condemn Rosa Parks because in this country, segregation by race is unacceptable and illegal. Whether she was too tired to move or tired of being told to move, she had the right to refuse to move." Segregation by race was legal and acceptable in the US of 1955. Montgomery bus segregation wasn't ended by judicial decisions or changing laws, but the the Montgomery Bus Boycott that was sparked by Parks's arrest. A good many Americans, not just in the South, thought Parks and her fellow activists were troublemakers. They felt the same way about Martin Luther King Jr., who accepted the label "extremist" in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail a couple of years later. Parks was not just a private citizen, she was a committed activist -- an officer in her local chapter of the NAACP -- and she knew when she refused to move that her resistance would probably lead to organized direct action against the Montgomery bus service. The analogy some have drawn here between Parks and Miriam Shear seems to me quite well-founded, except that Shears is *not* an activist, and that the segregation she resisted was *not* legal. In that respect, her case is better than that of Parks.

James Dillon, I'm usually skeptical when "local police" claim they "lack the ability to protect [marchers] from a hostile community." Of course, when that's true, the city could always call in the National Guard. The trouble is usually a lack of *willingness* to protect people with unpopular views, whom the police often want to bash themselves. As I recall, the Pride march in Israel took place after all, didn't it? There was a similar situation in Rome a few years ago, when the Vatican denounced a planned Gay Pride march there, and tried to agitate neo-fascist thugs to break it up. These tactics didn't work, and the march took place successfully.

Bigotry is bigotry, no matter who deploys it. And *religious* bigotry of the kind that victimized Miriam Shear is nearly always based in sincere, deeply-held convictions. That's true of Christian (or Muslim) anti-Semitism too, but I doubt that many people here would care to say that the nasty remarks about Jews made by the President of Iran were justifiable because he's just a devout man, and Israel is behaving provocatively?
12.20.2006 11:47am
Stu (mail):

the official line in much of the segregationist South was the same as the one you offer for Israel-- not that backs were inferior, but only that blacks and whites were "intended" by some natural order to remain socially separate, and that enforced segregation was actually for the good of both rather than a tool of oppression. Hence the "separate but equal" rhetoric of Plessy v. Ferguson.
Apples and oranges. There is no issue of "equal," only separate in the Israeli case. Women that marry into a Haredi marriage accept the separation at its proper time. The problem here is that a non-Haredi women that did not accept that practice sat down in the middle of an un-civil group of Haredi men that (wrongfully) tried to impose their standard in a public place.
Second, whatever the ideological justification for gender segregation in Israel may be, it's clear from the story that these men, in this situation, viewed the victim as an unruly subordinate who needed to be taught her proper place. Therefore I think the Rosa Parks analogy is quite well-founded.
It's not an Israel thing - segregation is not sanctioned by the government except in certain holy places (which do not normally include buses). Rather, it's a practice that certain extreme Jews carry out wherever they can. There very well may be a law against preventing a person from being in any public place. I'm sure there are such laws in the U.S. as well. In this kind of situation, there's a lack of interest by law enforcement.

I'd call her an unruly insubordinate in a place where she had no obligation to be subordinate, but where she had reason to expect trouble. As I said before, walking alone at night in a bad neighborhood comes to mind. Or in the Arab quarter in old Jerusalem wearing an Israeli flag. Quite legal, and quite irresponsible.
12.20.2006 12:05pm
ladidah (mail):

Or in the Arab quarter in old Jerusalem wearing an Israeli flag.

funny you mention it, because in the original email she sent telling the whole story, she was on her way to pray at dawn at the "small kotel" in the muslim quarter... (there is no "arab quarter")
also in the original email (google it if you want), two secular men with large video cameras inexplicably got on the bus in the middle of the incident. so don't be so sure there's no rosa-parks style activism here....
12.20.2006 12:20pm
James Dillon (mail):
Duncan,

I share your skepticism, and didn't mean to imply approval of most cases in the United States in which gays are prohibited from demonstrating for "safety" reasons (though I can imagine some circumstances in which it might be a legitimate concern). The point of my comment to Public_Defender was that the gay parade incident wasn't really an issue of "telling Jews that they were so hated the government couldn't protect them," because the fact that the participants were Jewish, as I understand it, had nothing to do with the reasons why the city was reluctant to allow the parade.
12.20.2006 12:41pm
Mark Field (mail):

I'd call her an unruly insubordinate in a place where she had no obligation to be subordinate, but where she had reason to expect trouble. As I said before, walking alone at night in a bad neighborhood comes to mind.


So is it your view that the government should not arrest criminals in bad neighborhoods or otherwise try to protect innocent people who want to use those public areas?
12.20.2006 1:42pm
Tom952 (mail):
James -
I can certainly (and unfortunately) imagine places in the United States in which homosexuals might be forbidden from marching because the local police lack the ability to protect them from a hostile community.

I can imagine many things. Can you cite an actual example of this occurring in the US?
12.20.2006 1:44pm
Per Son:
Public Defender:

Tons of reform and conservative Jews get married in Israel everyday. Who is denying them? The Issue with the Russians involves people who do not have a maternal line of Judaism. Often times, reform Synagogues in the States require that or conversion before performing a Jewish wedding.

heck, I spoke with 7 Rabbis before I found one who would perform a joint ceremony with my wife's pastor - and I was married in Ohio.
12.20.2006 2:10pm
Stu (mail):
So is it your view that the government should not arrest criminals in bad neighborhoods or otherwise try to protect innocent people who want to use those public areas?
On the contrary, it is my view that, like everywhere else, one should act based on how the government does things and not the way the government should do things. The police's priorities are not what any particular individual's priorities are.

As in the U.S., where courts routinely hold that police are not there to protect any specific individual, police are free from liability when they don't get there in time to prevent an attack. That is one of the justifications used in this country by gun rights advocates.

Are you suggesting that someone should assume the police will always be there to protect them no matter where they go? Do you have a basis for thinking it would be different in Israel? In England? Anywhere else?

If you do, then I suppose you feel you would not be making a mistake going someplace patently unsafe because of what you think the police SHOULD do rather than what they actually CAN or can reasonably be expected to do.
12.20.2006 2:37pm
James Dillon (mail):
No, Tom, I can't, but that really wasn't the point of my post. If you want to question whether there are parts of the Unites States in which people participating in a gay pride parade would be in real danger from the community, feel free, but I'm not interested enough to pursue that tangent.
12.20.2006 2:39pm
Mark Field (mail):

On the contrary, it is my view that, like everywhere else, one should act based on how the government does things and not the way the government should do things. The police's priorities are not what any particular individual's priorities are.


Your whole post is a dodge of my question. Do you think that police should arrest criminals who attack people who venture out in known dangerous areas?
12.20.2006 3:21pm
Stu (mail):
The analogy some have drawn here between Parks and Miriam Shear seems to me quite well-founded, except that Shears is *not* an activist, and that the segregation she resisted was *not* legal. In that respect, her case is better than that of Parks.
Your point about the ordinance enforcing segregation not being illegal is well taken. I made the assumption that Rosa Parks had reason to feel she would eventually be vindicated in court, whereas Miriam Shear the faces something, in my opinion (though others clearly disagree), quite different.

I say this as one personally familiar with the place, the buses there, and the haredim there, and having personally observed some of the conduct described, though I live among and interact with hassidim and orthodox in America.

Shear's case is not better Park's in my view, because there is no equivalent of an NAACP, a Martin Luther King, or a significant grass roots movement to change this particular problem. It is clearly a problem, and is a source of terrible discord among Jews in Israel. And although I understand Miriam's angry reaction to being pushed around by bullies, essentially saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more," just as the police were not there to protect her and will be very challenged to prosecute the bullies, they would not have been there to protect the bullies either, had she been prepared to defend herself by bringing along a few big tough friends.
12.20.2006 3:29pm
Respondent (mail):
Here, there is a definite implication that the females are inferior if they always have take the furthest seats. (RV)
Not so. The reason why the females are seated in the back of the bus is because this way the women are looking at the men, not vice versa (unless the men turn around). Men are more likely to get lustful thoughts by looking at women than the other way around. (That is why there are a lot more pornographic pictures of women sold than pornographic pictures of men, for instance).

A couple of responses to this. First, I would remind you that the official line in much of the segregationist South was the same as the one you offer for Israel-- not that backs were inferior, but only that blacks and whites were "intended" by some natural order to remain socially separate, and that enforced segregation was actually for the good of both rather than a tool of oppression. Hence the "separate but equal" rhetoric of Plessy v. Ferguson. (James Dillon)
I disagree. Seperate but equal in the sexual context doesn't imply any inferiority. Our society has seperate locker rooms for men and women, but not seperate beaches. This is because our definition of modesty allows the former, but not the latter. However, as RV pointed out, modesty can be enhanced by seperating the sexes on a bus as well. It is not fair to argue that a rule insisting on this kind of modesty implies inferiority of either sex, since we all agree that, given the right conditions, mixing of the sexes shouldn't be allowed- the question is just a matter of degree.
Second, whatever the ideological justification for gender segregation in Israel may be, it's clear from the story that these men, in this situation, viewed the victim as an unruly subordinate who needed to be taught her proper place. Therefore I think the Rosa Parks analogy is quite well-founded.
As to your second point, the men here viewed her as unruly, not because of an "inferior" status, but because she wasn't sitting in the part of the bus that normally was used only by men on that route for that time of day. She was viewed as subordinate only in the sense that the men here felt that she had to conform to their religious views even though the bus line wasn't designated to cater to them. However, unlike Rosa Parks, the fact that they would require her to sit in the back of the bus has nothing to do with viewing her classification as "inferior", as I explained in my response to RV.
12.20.2006 3:34pm
Stu (mail):
Do you think that police should arrest criminals who attack people who venture out in known dangerous areas?
Of course I do. And I believe the police think they should, too, even in Israel. And they should arrest murderers, thieves, drug dealers, drunk drivers, and every other kind of criminal, too. Oh, and prevent terrorists attacks, too.
12.20.2006 3:43pm
Mark Field (mail):

Of course I do. And I believe the police think they should, too, even in Israel. And they should arrest murderers, thieves, drug dealers, drunk drivers, and every other kind of criminal, too.


Including as well men who beat a woman on a bus, I assume. I agree with that.
12.20.2006 4:40pm
Yankev (mail):

Could you imagine a local government in the US telling Jews that they were so hated the government couldn't protect them? Only in Israel.


Then again,, can you imagine a national government telling Jews, "We can't protect you from people who would rather see you dead than live next door to you, so we are sending the army to evacuate you permanently from land no one else wanted that you purchased from the lawful owners at premium prices, developed over decades with your blood, sweat, toil and money into some of the most fertile agricultural land and commercial businesses in this part of the world, lock you and your families in jail for months if you say a word in protest, confiscate your possessions, deny you the compensation we promised you, shuttle you and your large families from hotel room to hotel room for months, keep your kids out of school, smear you in the press, and then try to shunt you into oblivion, all while denying the historic connection between your former homes and the Jewish people? And once we have only reaped massive militray attacks from our enemies in return, rather than the hoped for peace dividend, promise more of the same to Jewish citizens in other parts of the country? As you say, only in Israel.
12.20.2006 11:00pm
Yankev (mail):
If this event happened as reported in Haaretz, it is deplorable.

Haaretz has not shown itself to be reliable source if there is an opportunity to smear religious Jews, and has been caught, I believe, in false stories of similar nature before (and no, I do not have specifics at this time).
12.20.2006 11:03pm
AmieDesFeujs:
Haaretz article is certainly biased. There has not been an explanation of many important details, including:

* Egged is not entirely public.
* There are ample non-mehadrin buses.
* Often haredim split bus with curtain down center thus no implication of female inferiority.
* Buses often have 2 entrances front rear thus one entrance for men one for women thus no "go to back of bus" thus no implication of female inferiority.
* In Israel secular majority have reach a modus vivendi with religious especially in Jerusalem &most of both sides want quiet via that modus vivendi. Suddenly cameras appearing gives this the air of a staged event to allow secular to disturb that modus vivendi. I think that irresponsible even though I am secular.

Comparison of this to American (or ZA) segregation or to women's situation in Muslim countries, is ridiculous and has only intent to demonise Israel or religious Jews.
12.21.2006 1:48am
Per Son:
I think secular Jews have a right to be pissed off, given that so many Orthodox (not all) do not fight in the army. Also, look at all of the anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox in Israel (Again, I know not all) that love to wade in tax breaks and dollars from Israel.
12.21.2006 11:52am
James Dillon (mail):
Amie,

The second paragraph of the quotation indicates that the Egged bus on which this incident occurred was a non-mehadrin bus. Also see the last paragraph, in which the bus driver "clarified to the passengers that the bus was not a mehadrin line."
12.21.2006 1:26pm
Stu (mail):
so many Orthodox (not all) do not fight in the army
Get your facts straight. It is the extremists at both ends of the political spectrum, both liberal and ultra-orthodox, that avoid service these days. Both extremes are relatively small numbers. I could say the same of secular liberals, but would be equally unfair doing so.

Orthodox serve in disproportionately high numbers in combat units and are highly motivated to do so. Don't lump all orthodox in one group (or do you have an issue with all orthodox?). Perhaps you should look into who disproportionately refused to serve in Lebanon last summer besides ultra-orthodox while Hezbollah rockets fell all over the north.
12.21.2006 2:13pm
Per Son:
Selective reading eh? I said not all Orthodox. Additionally, when the ultra-orthodox refuse - it is a ok. Others, get in legal trouble.
12.21.2006 6:24pm
AmieDesFeujs (mail):
James Dillon,

Problem 1. You are taking Haaretz word which has history of dishonest bias against religious. I'd like to hear their side of story.

Problem 2. Apparently on this particular bus, the issue had occurred before with same female passenger, so she knew bus was mehadrin in practice even if not officially. So, she knew what she was getting into and could either have sat in female section immediately or could have taken another bus.

Furthermore if as driver says no assault then just altercation then why make a court case out of it when Israel has so many other problems?

Still seems to be a case of politically-motivated opposition to status quo &I cannot support it even though atheist.
12.21.2006 9:13pm