Monday, December 25, 2006

The Israeli Rosa Parks?

I've been following the story about Miriam Shear, the Orthodox woman who was spit on and beaten by several Haredi men on a public bus heading for the Kotel in Jerusalem last week. There are those who claim that she is the "Israeli Rosa Parks" for refusing to give up her seat to the Haredi men who wanted her to sit in the back of the bus even though this was not a Mehadrin* bus (there are some public Egged buses in Jerusalem that have separate seating for the ultra-Orthodox to maintain their views of modesty).

[*In a telltale sign about what the Web has become, I was going to offer a link to the Wikipedia entry for the Hebrew word
Mehadrin. So I put "Mehadrin" into my Firefox Wikipedia search engine and while there was no Wikipedia entry for Mehadrin, the first result to come up was "Miriam Shear" with a 12.1% relevance!]

The comments about this article at are very interesting because there are some who claim that the woman had a hidden agenda and essentially was looking for this to happen to her to make a point (that would be the "the woman was looking to get beaten up" argument that thankfully doesn't fly anymore in America). Some in the ultra-Orthodox camp even criticize the victim for violating the laws of
lashon hara (gossip) by going public with this story that gives a black eye to the Haredi community. As of this posting there are about 475 comments about this story on the site.

The story was also picked up by

From Ha'aretz

Woman beaten on Jerusalem bus for refusing to move to rear seat
By Daphna Berman

A woman who reported a vicious attack by an ad-hoc "modesty patrol" on a Jerusalem bus last month is now lining up support for her case and may be included in a petition to the High Court of Justice over the legality of sex-segregated buses.

Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. She is now in touch with several legal advocacy and women's organizations, and at the same time, waiting for the police to apprehend her attackers.

In her first interview since the incident, Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear's account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked "severe beating."

Shear, an American-Israeli woman who currently lives in Canada, says that on a recent five-week vacation to Israel, she rode the bus daily to the Old City to pray at sunrise. Though not defined by Egged as a sex-segregated "mehadrin" bus, women usually sit in the back, while men sit in the front, as a matter of custom. [more]

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