web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Minister Scorned for Attack on Haredi who Won’t Shake her Hand

Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman addressing the Knesset.

Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman addressing the Knesset.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Belgium’s health minister Laurette Onkelinx said she was “profoundly troubled” by the behavior of her Israeli counterpart, Yaakov Litzman, after the Haredi official refused to shake her hand at a conference.

Litzman, Israel’s deputy minister for health, belongs to the Haredi Torah Judaism party and considers it forbidden to touch members of the opposite sex.

Litzman and Onkelinx met Wednesday at the annual World Health Organization (WHO) Assembly in Geneva. Onkelinx belongs to the Francophone Belgian Socialist Party of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

“My hands are clean!” read a text that appeared on Onkelinx’s Facebook page . “This is the second time a minister refuses to shake my hand because I am a woman. The first was Iranian. The second one was the Israeli health minister here in Geneva. This kind of fundamentalist attitude, connected to a certain perception of religion and women, profoundly troubles me.”

Belgium’s health minister Laurette Onkelinx.

Belgium’s health minister Laurette Onkelinx.

Laurette Onkelinx is probably the most powerful woman in Belgian politics and is slated to succeed the Parti Socialiste’s chairperson Elio Di Rupo. Onkelinx comes from a political family. Her father, Gaston Onkelinx, has long been mayor of Seraing (near Liège) and member of the House of Representatives. Her older brother, Alain Onkelinx, has been a member of the Regional Parliament of Wallonia since September 2005.

“The minister’s childish reaction demonstrates her ignorance,” said Michael Freilich, editor in chief of Joods Actueel, Belgium’s largest Jewish publication, which reported the story. “Mr. Litzman’s refusal to shake Ms. Onkelinx’s hand had nothing to do with any view on women or impurity. Ultra-Orthodox women are also forbidden from touching members of the opposite sex. It’s the custom. A more seasoned politician would have been aware of this sensibility in advance.”

The website Juif.org wrote: “There are indeed only two possibilities: either this lady is ignorant, or has malicious intent. She may be ignorant, even if it’s sad to imagine this possibility regarding a woman who is rising to political power in a Western and modern country.”

Last October, two days before the Belgian municipal elections, Laurette Onkelinx was hit with a pie at an election event in Schaarbeek.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday re-elected Margaret Chan as its chief for five more years.

JTA content was used in this article.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

6 Responses to “Minister Scorned for Attack on Haredi who Won’t Shake her Hand”

  1. Davide Shalome says:

    Get used to other people's religion and learn some respect you ignorant bitch.

  2. Chaim Becker says:

    Sadly in todays time to see people that are so ignorant and then act like a child when told their behavior was wron.

  3. I once taught in a reform Hebrew school and was scolded by mothers outraged that I had not shaken hands with their gentile husbands at PTA meetings. They summoned me to a meeting with the principal and parents of both genders. I was accused of racism. I stood my ground, announcing "In this day and age of torrid scandals, can't you appreciate that I keep my hands where they belong? OFF your husbands? I don't even shake hands with the principal, your rabbi." He burst out laughing and the problem-makers were dismissed.

  4. The comments would better be not on ignorance of the custom (or requirement) but rather on the nonsense of the religious precept of forbidding unrelated men and women from touching each other.

  5. There are way of avoiding offending one another. If the minister considers that touching hands is not an option, he can a) wear gloves (no skin contact) or, b) salute the woman with a bow rather than a handshake. Both of these people are woefully inept in the matter of diplomatically avoiding problems and should not be nominated to government posts in the future.

  6. I agree that it is silly. We humans are perfectly able to shake hands with members of the opposite sex without it leading to anything unseemly. For those who don't feel they are able to do so, they can offer a polite bow in guise of salute. At any rate, there is absolutely no excuse for the rudeness both ministers showed each other.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest News Stories
Raining in Jerusalem

Starting the 7th of Cheshvan in the Jewish calendar, Jews in Israel will start inserting the formal request for rain in the 9th blessing of the Amidah prayer.

Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.

Doctors are predicting minimal long-term disability to Yehudah Glick following surgery today.

Ikea Instruction

Sweden and John Kerry would make wonderful partners to get lost in the same maze.

Little Heroes

Pictured is an IDF ceremony for graduates of the “Little Heroes” foundation, which works to integrate kids with special needs in society, on October 30, 2014. The annual ceremony is in cooperation with the Logistics Corps in order to strengthen the connection between the IDF and the special needs community.

“It’s serious, there are now genuine questions being asked about whether we will be able to vote Labor next May.”

Does that mean Kerry also will stay away?

He is not in a coma and may undergo another operation today.

Israel’s anti-Netanyahu media might regret their wishes if early elections are held.

Authorities in Peru this week arrested a suspected Hezbollah terrorist who planned to murder Jews. Lebanese citizen Mohammed Hamden was in possession of explosives and other materials when he was arrested, according to the Peruvian Interior Ministry. Police found traces of TNT, detonators and other explosive devices in his apartment. Reports indicate that the suspect […]

Israel decides not to go ahead with huge military purchase from U.S., likely to provoke rumors of continuing feud.

Highlight: Exclusive Interview with Rabbi Yehuda Glick at the Foot of the Temple Mount.

Doctors reported as of 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday night that there is a “very small” improvement in the condition of Yehuda Glick, gunned down by an Arab terrorists Wednesday night, but that he still is in critical condition and his life remains in danger.

Foreign Minister Lieberman may be playing “chicken.” What happens if France follows Sweden?

Conference of Jewish groups chided the Obama administration for the nasty comments made about Bibi.

More Articles from Jacob Edelist
F130210FFMS04

“Over-exposure of security and intelligence activities may seriously harm state security.”

Handle of a footed marble basin decorated with Seilenoi heads, the 1st century BCE.

Lionized as “the greatest builder in human history,” King Herod was also demonized for his cruelty and his shady religious origins.

“We expect continued firing of hundreds of rockets in the coming days.”

The plan is to stagger their recruitment, to allow IDF manpower officials to study the process.

Hamas called the meeting to try and avoid further casualties.

Some of the supervised, ‘bug-free,’ leafy vegetable growers are using higher levels of pesticides than allowed by Health Ministry standards.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Sunday that Iran has in its possession UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) which are far more advanced than the one which the Hezbollah recently sent into Israel.

Last Sunday, Netanyahu told Likud ministers he plans on adopting part of the report without relating to broad legal interpretations, to avoid international criticism. Still, the proposal will add legal flexibility and remove bureaucratic obstacles, making Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria considerably easier.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/minister-scorned-for-attack-on-haredi-who-wont-shake-her-hand/2012/05/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: