Cutting through the bullshit.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Move to the back

On Friday, Left I on the news reported on an article in Ha’aretz about a woman savagely beaten on the Egged No 2 bus in Jerusalem. According to Wikipedia, it transpires that

Some lines, mainly running in and/or between major Haredi Jewish population centers, are classified as 'Mehadrin' buses. These buses, while identical to others, can be used by anyone whether Haredi or not, but travellers should note that men and women (with the exception of husband and wife, or parents with children) are not supposed to sit next to each other, and women may be expected to sit in the back of the bus, while the men are supposed to sit in front. For women, a modest style of dress would also be recommended (meaning, no miniskirts or bare shoulders). These are guidelines that most of the riders of these specific lines insist on. These rules on these mehadrin buses are not 'law', and anyone can ignore them, but it is seen as disrespecting the local population.

Apparently anyone can ignore them, but at their own peril. I couldn’t find any corroboration on the Egged site, but it says that information on local bus routes is only in Hebrew.

So the days of ‘move to the back of the bus’ are not over yet in Israel, the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. Even Jews haven’t achieved full civil rights, if they’re women. I wonder if that’s why observant Jewish men thank a supernatural being every morning she lo asani ishah ‘who didn’t make me a woman’?

Meanwhile, Jonathan Cook reports that Israeli security guards both in Israel and at overseas airports are racially profiling Arabs.

"The countries in which these [Israeli security] investigations take place do not supervise them, and prefer to ignore their discriminatory nature and the human rights violations committed on their own soil," the report [by lawyer, Tarek Ibrahim, on behalf of the Arab Association for Human Rights and the Centre Against Racism] states.

Israeli security staff identifies most Arab passengers through clothing, appearance or accent, or through questions about their name or where they live. If there is doubt, passengers are asked to show their Israeli ID card, which is believed to reveal their ethnicity in coding.

Once identified, Arab passengers' luggage and passports are marked with specially colour-coded labels.

And it’s not just their luggage that gets special treatment. The report includes accounts from several victims.

Ibtisam Maranah, a film director who represented Israel at an international film festival in the Netherlands in 2005 along with several Jewish colleagues, reports that Israeli staff took her off alone to an underground section of the Dutch airport, away from the rest of her group and local airport staff, where she was made to undress.

As Jimmy Carter says, ‘Israel is a wonderful democracy with equal treatment of all citizens whether Arab or Jew’, or indeed, woman.

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