Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Needless Antagonism

Since we're on the topic of mehadrin buses, my own personal opinion has been that Egged, being a company that serves the public, should run only unsegregated buses on any line that does not exclusively serve a religious neighbourhood where the service has been requested. The idea that some public bus lines will be altered to respect the sensitivites of a minority of the population (and possibly only a fraction of the folks withint that minority) is not sensible in a generally secular society. It's one thing to expect folks on the bus in deepest and dark Bene Beraq to sit separately even if they're not ultra-Chareidi, quite another on the cross-town express.
But I don't believe the solution is to antagonize the religious population demanding this special treatment:
Retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner suggested on Monday that secular passengers start riding haredi bus lines en masse to counter the gender segregation advocated by the ultra-Orthodox...
The public Egged bus company operates special "mehadrin" lines on which men and women are required to sit separately. Dorner insisted that Egged must provide an alternative for secular passengers who wish to ride these lines but are opposed to segregation.
In a conversation with Ynet, Dorner stressed that the proposed move was not meant as an act of defiance against the religious administration, but rather as means to exert pressure on the transportation minister and the Egged bus company to operate complimentary lines for the non-religious public.
"These arrangements should not be forced on the general population," she explained.
Dorner told students that young Jerusalemites should actively protest the segregated lines by using these buses more and disregarding the modesty codes practiced on them.

On one hand, comments like this from someone like Dorner aren't surprising. Israel's high court is an in-club in which the supreme justices choose their replacements without any input from the government or the public, both of which are considered too stupid and unenlightened to offer any meaningful input. Ever since Aharon Barak's tenure, the court has been a lodge of anti-Jewish intellectuals who think Israel's future is best secured by removing every trace of Jewishness from the country while encourages the Arabs in their cultural nationalistic ambitions. A Supreme Court justice making an anti-Chareidi remark is about as exceptional as Paris Hilton discussing her latest sexual conquest.
If Dorner wanted to be responsible, she could have made a simple suggestion: No segregated bus lines on Egged. If the Chareidim want them, they can create their own bus company and pay for it themselves. Anyone protesting such an idea could safely be dismissed as a fanatic.
But actively protesting and disregarding the modesty codes? Look, I have no interest in telling non-religious folks how to dress and act but I would reserve the right to be offended if someone I considered to be immodestly dressed walked up to me and yelled out "Hey! I'm purposefully doing this to offend you!"
Now, me being me I would probably just roll my eyes and turn away. However, it has been well established over the last several decades that this is not how the average Chareidi responds to confrontation. Dorner's irresonsible ideas are recommendations to create a riot.
Mind you, that's probably what she wants. Then she'll give an interview where she points out how primitive Chareidim are, rioting all over innocent seculars who went out of their way to bother them. And, oblivious to the commotion she helped create, she'll create another wave of bad feeling that does nothing to improve secular-religious tensions in Israeli society.


Manya Shochet said...

Dahlia Dornir will "create another wave of bad feeling that does nothing to improve secular-religious tensions in Israeli society."?

Garnel? I don't think that wave needs to be "created". It's not necessary, as they say, to re-invent the wheel. I think attacking nice, middle-aged ladies who happenned to sit on the front of the #1 bus was enough to tick off the secular public. Ticked ME off, and I'm not even secular.

And were I not hampered by so many carefully inculcated "good manners", I would be tempted to provoke the haredim by sitting WHEREVER THE HECK I WANT on the bus.

As is, I will be willing to offend haredim in the name of elderly passengers of either sex, but not necessarily for myself, and, perhaps unfortunately, not for the sake of giving offense.

Anonymous said...

I think Garnel was trying to say this in a nice way:
If you see a rabid dog, you don't try to reason with it. You avoid it because even though you might win a fight with it, it isn't worth the damage the dog will cause you.

Manya Shochet said...

Not to pick at the metaphor, but a rabid dog is not simply to be "avoided". It must be dealt with clearly and decisively for the public good. It would be criminally negligent, a danger to public safety, to do nothing and simply let it run wild.

Comparing certain elements of the Israeli haredi population to rabid dogs might be considered "the bigotry of soft expectations", might it not?

No, I do not think merely ignoring violence or the threat of violence to the general public is a wise or moral policy in this case.

Perhaps the best and least interventionist solution would be to allow private companies to compete with Egged and break the monopoly.