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Court Rules Against Gender-Segregated Concert for Ultra-Orthodox in Afula

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The Nazareth District Court on Sunday ruled against the Afula municipality, which planned a gender-segregated concert next week for the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) community at a public park. Photo by Mati Amar/TPS on 18 July, 2019

By: Arye Green

The Nazareth District Court on Sunday ruled against the Afula municipality, which planned a gender-segregated concert next week for the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) community at a public park.

The court ruling did not cancel the event but rather ordered the municipality to refrain from official gender-based segregation. The municipality was not allowed to put up signs ordering men and women to stand separately, and the ushers at the event were ordered not to segregate or enable others to do so.

Motty Steinmetz, the Haredi singer who was supposed to perform at the event, canceled his performance in response to the court’s decision and the entire event was canceled.

In response to the controversial ruling, the municipality stated that “out of 360 events that were produced this summer, the municipality had requested to hold one event for the Haredi community to celebrate and enjoy according to its customs. We are sorry that this was not made possible. We will respect the court’s decision.”

Many politicians have responded to the court ruling, attempting to cash in ahead of the upcoming elections. The religious Shas party announced on Monday that it will file a petition with the Nazareth District Court against its decision regarding the event.

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, of the right-wing Yemina party, responded with a harsh tweet.

“The legal system is stupid. I apologize, but despite my position, I can’t find a more refined word. Stupid fundamental progressivism,” he tweeted.

Smotrich also attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allowing the judicial system to overstep its jurisdiction. He called Netanyahu a “weak prime minister, who allows 100% of this craziness to take place under his watch. Zero leadership. Zero governance.”

Netanyahu weighed the possibility of firing Smotrich from his cabinet in response. Netanyahu subsequently sufficed with reprimanding him, and Smotrich apologized for his tweet.

Michal Gera Margaliot, CEO of Israel Women’s Network, was pleased with the decision and said that “we took a big step today towards securing women’s rights to equal standing in the public realm. It is unacceptable that in a public area and with public funding, a father won’t be able to accompany his daughter, or that a mother will be separated from her boys at the entrance to the park, as was planned at this event.”

Tali Farkash, a well-known Haredi-Feminist activist, blamed the Israel Women’s Network of “shooting us all in the foot.” She agrees that gender-based segregation has expanded in recent years, but thinks the fight against this concert has taken the battle against gender-segregation too far.

“We are raising a generation that sees feminism as the enemy. Because of the Israel Women’s Network they won’t get to see their beloved performer… It hurts the Haredi feminists, a new delicate movement that aims to take the golden path – on the one hand accepting the core values of the Haredi community, and on the other, promoting Haredi women in influential positions in various fields, economic, political, judicial and academic,” wrote Farkash in an op-ed for Israel’s Ynet news.

(TPS)

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