No coercion is good – religious or secular. Today, Israel suffers more from secular coercion than from religious coercion. Unlike the situation in the past, religious soldiers today are forced into combat with women soldiers. Unlike the situation in the past, Israel’s citizens today are coerced into witnessing gay pride parades and other decadent behavior in their public space. Unlike the situation in the past, the settlers today are forcibly expelled from their homes against the will of the majority of the nation. Unlike the situation in the past, non-Jewish immigration from Russia is being forced down our throats, with Sudanese immigration thrown in for good measure. The entire Israeli reality has become a platform for the multifaceted tyranny of the secular minority (approximately 19 percent of the public) over the traditional/religious/ultra-Orthodox majority.
Just like the unhappy events in Ramat Gilad, the story of Tanya from Ashdod (who was harassed on an ultra-Orthodox bus) was a provocation. It began with coercion, continued with the igniting of an intentional spark, led to stupid behavior by extremists, and was followed by a mad, false and bigoted media campaign. Who knows where it will end? Israel’s bus company, Egged, did not want to lose its ultra-Orthodox passengers and offered them their own bus lines in exchange for their agreement not to open their own bus company. That’s the whole story. Tanya could have taken the two general bus lines from Ashdod to Tel Aviv. But she insisted on traveling on the ultra-Orthodox bus.
Do these provocations justify throwing a rock at an IDF officer? Certainly not. Do they justify an imbecilic ultra-Orthodox man spitting on a small girl whose level of modesty does not conform to his standards? Of course not. Most of the ultra-Orthodox have renounced his behavior.
But the problem here is coercion of all types. And the most significant coercion today in Israeli society is the continuing offensive against anything that smacks of Jewish identity – be it the settling of the Land of Israel, family values (today it is financially worthwhile to divorce and declare oneself a single parent, and many people do this), or a smear campaign accusing the ultra-Orthodox of discrimination against women.
We would all be well advised to filter out the media’s wailing. The journalists, most of whom represent the junk-culture that takes the prize for humiliating women, have nothing to teach us about respect for women.
Problems in society must be dealt with in a factual manner. Those who discriminate against women or harass them must be punished according to the law. But none of that has anything to do with the murky wave of incitement that has lately been washing over our heads.