web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 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
Colin H. Kahl, VP Joe Biden's new national security adviser.
Biden’s New NSA Chief Mocked Israeli Nuke Fears
Latest News Stories
Colin H. Kahl, VP Joe Biden's new national security adviser.

Biden’s new national security adviser dissed Israel in the Democratic party platform and mocks Iran’s danger.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaking in Ramallah, July 1, 2014.

PA leader Abbas demands UN force Israel back to 1949 Armistice Line by Nov. 2016.

The car of the acting rabbi of an Atlantic City synagogue mysteriously burst into flames during the three-day Rosh HaShanah-Shabbat period.

Car fires are car fires,” said the Atlantic City fire chief. But the car was parked!

U.S. President Barack Obama, Sept. 8, 2014.

US admits its ‘no-strike if any civilians might be hit’ policy does not apply to its airstrikes against ISIS.

Israeli police revealed on September 30 that they are now investigating the possibility that a fellow Arab worker may have cut the cable that held Arami as he was doing exterior work on a building.

A 14-year-old Dutch Muslim high school student is suspended after posting a video saying he is “from ISIS” and wants to “behead Jews.”

PM Netanyahu and US Pres. Obama met Wednesday evening for 75 minutes at the White House in Washington DC.

Israel talks with building blocks. The Palestinian Authority throws them.

The Palestinian Authority continues to remove its mask and show it is Hamas in sheep’s clothing.

How do some of the other issues Obama discussed in his 2013 U.N. General Assembly speech look through today’s lens?

“I think there’s no question that support for Israel will, I think, increase dramatically with the Republican leadership in the Senate,” Matthew Brooks, executive director of the RJC and the Jewish Policy Center think tank, told JNS.

As expected, one of the biggest themes throughout the week long UN gathering was a focus on the threat posed by Islamic State to the international world order, with nearly every major world leader mentioning the U.S.-led international efforts underway to combat the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

“You want to know what this wine looked like, which wine King David drank, white or red…. We can see if it’s red or white, strong or weak.”

For diehard Jewish fans of “The Simpsons,” a Mourner’s Kaddish will be in order at this weekend’s Yom Kippur services.

A recent Jerusalem municipal decision regarding a virgin, angered ultra-Orthodox representatives.

B’Tselem is once again able to use Israel’s national service volunteers to attack Israel’s efforts at self-defense and sovereignty.

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: