Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest school rulin

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest school rulin
Thu, 06-17-2010 - 11:11am


Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest school ruling


Associated Press Writer

Tens of thousands of black-clad ultra-Orthodox Jews staged mass demonstrations on Thursday to protest a Supreme Court ruling forcing the integration of a religious girls' school.

Protesters snarled traffic in Jerusalem and another large religious enclave, crowded onto balconies in city squares, and waved posters decrying the court's decision and proclaiming the supremacy of religious law. There were no reports of violence.

The protest shined a spotlight on a wide array of social issues Israel has been grappling with for years, including discrimination inside the Jewish community, the disproportionate clout of the country's ultra-Orthodox minority and the precarious state of the country's education system.

Parents of European, or Ashkenazi, descent at a girls' school in the West Bank settlement of Emanuel don't want their children to study with schoolgirls of Mideast and North African descent, known as Sephardim.

The Ashkenazi parents insist they aren't racist, but want to keep the classrooms segregated, as they have been for years, arguing that the families of the Sephardi girls aren't religious enough.

Israel's Supreme Court rejected that argument, and told the parents that the school must be integrated. It ruled that the 43 sets of parents who have defied the integration efforts by keeping their daughters from school were to be jailed on Thursday for two weeks.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about 100,000 people converged in downtown Jerusalem in support of the Ashkenazi parents. An additional 20,000 demonstrated in the central city of Bnei Brak.

Most of the demonstrators were men wearing the long beards and heavy black clothing typical among ultra-Orthodox Jews. "The Supreme Court is fascist," said one poster. "The prisoners of Emanuel are the messengers of the Jewish people," read another.

One of the protesters in Jerusalem, Esther Bark, 50, who has seven daughters, said the issue is keeping the girls away from the temptations of the modern world. "We don't give our girls all the knowledge in the world, and to suddenly put them in an open-minded place is not good for them," she said. "They have been sheltered." (me:  {snort!}  Seriously??)

Another Jerusalem demonstrator, Barry Dubin, 28, a father of two, said the courts could not tell parents where to send their children to school. "This has nothing to do with racism," he said, "but in every culture there are differences in religion, there are levels, these girls are on a lower level than the others."

Rosenfeld said 10,000 police were deployed, and rescue services were on alert.

Sephardi religious leaders have not publicly criticized the demonstration or the Ashkenazi parents' conduct.

"This is an example of something that should have been passed to a rabbinical court," said Nissim Zeev, a lawmaker from the Orthodox Sephardic political party Shas. "It's out of proportion, and a bit puzzling, that the Supreme Court should impose a prison sentence on these parents."

Still, Zeev said the Sephardi girls had the right to choose to attend a mixed school. "If the children are together under one roof, then they are entitled to the same education," he said.

Israel's ultra-Orthodox minority of some 650,000 Jews - just under 10 percent of the nation's population - is an insular community that has been known to riot over the state's intrusion into its affairs.

On Wednesday, ultra-Orthodox Jews hurled rocks and bottles and torched garbage bins to protest a hotel construction project that they claim will disturb Jewish graves.

The ultra-Orthodox have come under criticism for maintaining a separate, state-funded school system that focuses on religious studies and gives short shrift to the general studies that form the basic core curriculum of schools where secular or modern Orthodox Israeli children study.

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 06-17-2010 - 11:41am

>"proclaiming the supremacy of religious law."<
>"disproportionate clout of the country's ultra-Orthodox minority."<

I understand this to be a big problem. It appears Israel hasn't decided what sort of country it represents. Is it a democracy or a theocracy?

>"Israel's ultra-Orthodox minority of some 650,000 Jews - just under 10 percent of the nation's population - is an insular community that has been known to riot over the state's intrusion into its affairs. They have been criticized for maintaining a separate, state-funded school system that focuses on religious studies."<

These are state funded schools. I understand Israel is a Jewish country & most likely have some religious instruction in all their schools.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 06-17-2010 - 3:27pm

A snippet from the NY Times' similar article.......

>"''Everyone wants to send their children to Ashkenazi schools,'' said another demonstrator, Zion Harounian, 62, a Sephardic father of nine. ''The quality of the Ashkenazi schools is much higher. They are stronger politically, so they get more money.'' "<




iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Sat, 06-19-2010 - 2:49pm

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2009
Sat, 06-19-2010 - 3:04pm


Israel is not a theocracy. It is a parliamentary democracy.

Edited to add: A parliamentary democracy

Israel is a parliamentary democracy consisting of legislative, executive and judicial branches. Its institutions are the presidency, the Knesset (parliament), the government (cabinet of ministers) and the judiciary.

The system is based on the principle of separation of powers, in which the executive branch (the government) is subject to the confidence of the legislative branch (the Knesset) and the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by law.


Edited 6/19/2010 3:15 pm ET by shannon.fannon
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Sat, 06-19-2010 - 10:23pm

It has the physical divisions of a democracy, yes...but any time you let ONE religion dictate the laws, then it isn't truly a democracy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-12-2004
Sun, 06-20-2010 - 1:57am

"I understand Israel is a Jewish country & most likely have some religious instruction in all their schools."

No, there is not religious instruction in all Israeli schools. If you want you child to receive religious instruction during the school day, the child must attend a religious school. The vast majority of Israel's Jews are extremely secular. Unlike in America, where Jews run the gamut from totally unobservant, to Reformed, Conservative and Orthodox, Jews in Israel are mostly at the extremes -- unobservant or Orthodox. The Conservative movemment, which is about at the middle of the observance scale, is very, very small in Israel. Jewish holidays are considered to be a day to go to the beach.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-12-2004
Sun, 06-20-2010 - 2:06am

The religious parties in Israel hold a disproportionate amount of power precisely because Israel is a parliamentary democracy. It is necessary to rule by coalition government, most of the time. Like in the UK right now, and Germany most of the time. The two major parties rarely reach a majority in parliament, so they must negotiate with the smaller, fringe parties. In Germany, that can be the Greens; in Israel it is the right-wing religious parties. Bibi Netanyahu, and his Likud party, did not have a majority in the Parliament after the last election. Neither did the left-leaning Kadima party. So they had to find a coalition. And Bibi promised all kinds of things to Lieberman and his ultra-right religious party to get him to join his coalition.

While this system does give the religious parties sway over laws, the laws they care most about are those that affect the Jews and their daily lives. That may make it seem like the state is a theocracy, but the Rabbis aren't causing this. Religious Jews will live according to Jewish law regardless of what the state laws say. The religious parties, though, bring some of those laws to the state because they have negotiating power when they are in a coalition government.

In a theocracy, religious leaders impose religious law on all the people in all facets of their lives. This is not true in Israel. Its not the religious leaders who are doing it, and they are only doing it in very limited parts of the peoples' lives.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Sun, 06-20-2010 - 8:44am

Note I wrote most likely. I didn't know for certain.

"most likely"

I stated that on my experience within British schools where I received some bible study & gathering for a prayer first thing in the morning. Students of other religions would be excused.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Sun, 06-20-2010 - 1:20pm

That's why I said that I realized it wasn't a true theocracy.