Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
An improvised mechitza separating men and women during prayer in Homesh, March 28 2007.

On Sunday, Israel Hayom featured a report titled, “Smotrich and the Haredim demand: gender segregation will not be considered discrimination by law.”

The report, by Amir Ettinger, suggested that “Religious Zionism and United Torah Judaism demand as part of the coalition negotiations a law regulating the separation between men and women at public events––with an emphasis on religious and Haredi culture, studies, and public service events––declaring these are not considered discrimination.”


Ettinger noted that “this demand of the Haredim and Religious Zionists comes against the background of the desire to prevent ‘legal persecution,’ as they put it, by elements in the justice system, mentioning specifically former Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber, who fought gender segregation, as well as women’s lobbies and other organizations that fight against public events or services that require gender segregation on religious grounds.”

Soon-to-be-just-another-MK Yair Lapid couldn’t help himself and tweeted a nasty message: “While in Iran brave women are fighting for their rights, in Israel Smotrich and his Hardalim are trying to stick women behind barriers and introduce into law the separation between women and men. Where is Likud? Why are they silent? Iran is not here.”

Even a female colleague in The Jewish Press responded on our WhatsApp group: “SERIOUSLY??? They have lost it completely . . .”

Here’s the thing: having interviewed the Religious Zionism no. 2 MK and their frontman on Justice system reforms MK Simcha Rothman (Meet Religious Zionist Simcha Rothman, Ben Gvir’s Moderate Ally), I consider myself somewhat of a maven on their agenda in this area and did not recall seeing such a notion. So I asked, and MK Rothman directed me to his tweet earlier on Sunday, which I will now translate:

“To inform the chairman of the emerging or not-so-emerging opposition: there’s no need for any negotiations demand for the separation not to be considered discrimination. This is stipulated in the law explicitly, and not in Iran. Feel free to check at your leisure.

“What must be repealed are the delusional decisions of Dina Zilber and the High Court of Justice that prevented an observant public from living their lives as they see fit, without secular coercion.”

Rothman attached a copy of the equal rights law that states events will not be considered discriminatory if they are inherent in the framework of clubs or groups, so long as the separation between the sexes is justified based on the rules and traditions of these institutions.

Zilber’s activity was so outlandish in attacking religious Jewish events and other issues that in 2018, then Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked informed the Knesset that Zilber is no longer qualified to represent her ministry in Knesset committees.


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