Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi / Flash 90
Hasidic Jewish men of the Vizhnitzc dynasty take part at a ceremony of bringing a new Torah scroll into the synagogue, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa

In the wake of a decision by the Nazareth District Court prohibiting gender separation at a strictly-Orthodox family event scheduled to be held at the Afula public park this week – and which was cancelled as a result – the Israel Women’s Lobby (IWL) who filed the petition to the court moved ahead Monday to demand a similar event likewise be prevented in the coastal city of Haifa, as well as the city of Bat-Yam.

The Women’s Lobby demanded that Haifa Mayor Einat Kalish Rotem and the legal counsel of the city ban a performance that was to be scheduled “for men only” at the Haifa Convention Center, saying that venue is a municipal building, and since the event would be held under municipal auspices, it cannot take place with gender separation.

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The group cited the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry into Entertainment and Public Places, 5761 (2000). “It should be emphasized that the assumption that there is an audience that would prefer to hold the event without women does not authorize the event, which is contrary to the law. The norms quoted above indicate that the principle of gender equality and the prohibition of holding public events that exclude women – prevail over the preferences of a public like this or another,” the Women’s Lobby wrote.

Over the weekend, in response to the barrage of complaints fielded over its move to cancel the Orthodox family event in Afula, the group wrote in a statement on its website: “It is not possible that in the public domain and with public financing, a father cannot go with his daughter to the inflatables, and a mother will be separated from her sons at the entrance to a public park, as would have happened at the event in Afula. . . “That is why we filed the petition against the Municipality of Afula, and why we continue to watch to ensure that women can be present and equal in every public space.”

READ: Shas to Petition Court over Ban on Separate Seating at Afula Concert

The Shas Sephardic religious party filed a petition on Monday with the Nazareth district court against the Israeli Women’s Lobby (IWN) and also against the Afula Municipality for taking the position that it would respect the position of the court, calling the ruling unreasonable.

The Court ordered the Israel Women’s Lobby to respond to the Shas petition by August 18, four days after the date of the concert in which world-renown Hasidic vocalist Motti Steinmetz was scheduled to perform in Afula. Steinmetz made it clear, however, that he would not perform if gender separation could not be ensured out at the venue. Since it took the Court only four days to respond to the initial petition by the Women’s Lobby, it is eminently clear where the sympathies of the so-called “justice system” lie.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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