A small item from last week’s New York Times:
Israel: Tel Aviv to Begin Sabbath Buses
In the latest salvo in Israel’s simmering cultural war between religious and secular Jews, municipal officials in Tel Aviv have decided to begin providing bus service on the Jewish Sabbath. The move, which outraged the country’s religious establishment, is likely to be blocked by the national government. There is no public transportation in most Israel cities from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
And on February 22, Ethan Bronner (NYT) reported this:
JERUSALEM — The Israeli Supreme Court has invalidated a law that exempted from military service ultra-Orthodox Jews engaged in religious studies, adding a new urgency to the government’s negotiations with religious parties over a more equitable distribution of the burdens of citizenship.
I hadn’t realized that the ultra-Orthodox did not have to serve in the Israeli army, until my cousin told me a few months ago. Aside from learning from the rest of the article that it’s unlikely, given right-wing religious pressure on the Israeli government, that any religious students will be drafted soon, you understand that fundamentalist Judaism, just like all fundamentalist movements, allows only men to study the religion.
Now let’s place these items about Israel alongside this story, about the 8-year-old Orthodox girl who was cursed and spat on by ultra-Orthodox men as she walked to her school.
A country that cedes control over vital public services to religious dogma cannot claim to be a democracy. It is a theocracy.
And all theocracies endanger and subjugate women.