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Religious Jews still try to segregate Israel buses

AMY TEIBEL AP 12/19/2011 19:13
Religious Jews still try to segregate Israel buses - Israel - Middle East

Israel's political leaders and chief rabbis on Sunday condemned persistent efforts by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men to shunt Israeli women to the back of public buses, a year after the country's Supreme Court outlawed the practice.

The outcry came in reaction to an Israeli woman's experience of being asked to move to the back of a bus, which was posted on Facebook and became a cause celebre in the Israeli media on Sunday. The case even drew public comment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who deplored gender segregation.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up about 10 percent of Israel's population of 7.6 million, have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to impose their norms in public spaces. The ultra-Orthodox have segregated bus lines and some walkways in their neighborhoods.

In Jerusalem, billboards depicting women have become a rarity because ultra-Orthodox vandals rip them down. The issue also has seeped into the military, where religious soldiers walked out of a military event several months ago because women were singing - which extremely devout Jews believe is contrary to Jewish law.