Israeli Women Sent to the Back of the Bus

Where’s Rosa Parks when we need her? This summer Egged, Israel’s primary bus company, acceded to demands by the ultra-Orthodox of Bnai Brak that, at least on the line that serves their town, women be sent to the back of the bus.

Following that ruling, made to accomodate the community’s strict sex-segregation, a vehement conversation about how to respond took place on the Israel Feminist Forum list, where women have been “gathering” to discuss everything from the Women of the Wall to the rape of an infant Palestinian girl.

Among their suggestions:

• A law suit charging the ruling violates women’s rights and challenging sex-segregation in public services;

• A letter-writing campaign;

• A vocal demand by secular riders that Egged provide Saturday service to the beach (Egged currently has no Shabbat bus service in Jerusalem).

Marilyn Safir, a professor at the University of Haifa who (wo)mans the list, writes “Rather than segregating buses, men who for religious reasons can’t look at or sit next to women [should] be given blinders and a board that can be placed between them and the next seat, which they can use as needed.”