web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
"Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah." That's his Jihad. What's yours? - An ad campaign sponsored by  the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
MTA Hopes to Change Rule, Ban ‘Killing Jews’ Anti-Jihad Ad
Latest News Stories
"Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah." That's his Jihad. What's yours? - An ad campaign sponsored by  the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

New York’s MTA plans to vote on a change to its rules it hopes would allow it to exclude the “Killing Jews” anti-jihad ad campaign.

Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden gleefully announced two of his three Catholic children married Jews – not thrilling his Jewish audience.

Armenian Archbishop Sevan (R) sits next to Greek Bishop Atallah, as they watch a live screening from Echmiadzin, Armenia, of the Church canonization of the genocide victims as saints, in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

In Jerusalem, the bells from 18 churches in the Old City of Jerusalem rang 100 times on Thursday evening, April 23, to remember the Armenian Genocide.

IDF soldiers - once upon a time.

The IDF has come up with an 81-second video showing 67 years of Israeli land, sea and ground soldiers in action.

Tennessee becomes the first state to formally condemn the BDS movement.

Snow fell in Tzfat (Safed) Friday morning, not enough to stick to the ground but enough to make residents wonder if they were dreaming or perhaps it is January. Several inches of snow fell on the Hermon as a rare mid-April storm faded away after blowing away Israelis’ Yom Ha’Atzmaut plans for cook-outs and hiking, […]

All polls show Clinton would win against any Republican, but has she peaked too soon?

Armenians marched with Armenian flags, signs, and torches from the Armenian Quarter of Old City as they mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, on April 23, 2015.

Iranian warships neared Yemen to support Houthi rebels despite the presence of US vessels in the area.

Poet Erez Biton, who was awarded the Israel Prize for Literature on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, used the occasion to warn against sponsors of the Boycott Israel movement. “Strident voices are being heard in the world including those who are challenging the very existence of the State of Israel,” he said. “There are even those among them […]

IDF tanks shelled a site in Gaza in response to the rocket(s) launched at Israel.

Cyber centers that guard unclassified networks reportedly detected the Pentagon security breach and kicked the hackers off “in a way that minimized their chances of returning.”

An American general says the US is facing a “national security” crisis over obesity among the nation’s youth.

10:22 PM Walla reports that according to an IDF source, 3 rockets were launched. At this point they do not think it was Hamas who launched them. 10:16 pm No specific terrorist group in Gaza has yet claimed responsibility for the rockets. 9:55 PM Reminder from the IDF: If you hear the Red Alert siren […]

The family of USAID development worker Dr. Warren Weinstein says they are “devastated” by the news he was killed in a CIA drone strike on Al Qaeda.

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: