‘Sickening’: Anti-judicial reform activists harass Orthodox Jews on bus

Opponents of judicial overhaul take aim at Ultra-Orthodox Jewish bus passengers to protest alleged gender discrimination.

By World Israel News Staff

Anti-judicial reform activists in Israel are taking aim at bus lines serving the Orthodox sector, as the Netanyahu government shifts its legislative agenda from the judicial overhaul to the ultra-Orthodox (haredi) draft bill.

This week, the Likud-led governing coalition shelved its judicial reform plan – reportedly with the consent of its architect, Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) – in order to concentrate its efforts on passing legislation to enshrine draft deferments for ultra-Orthodox men.

Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers have demanded the government indefinitely delay the judicial overhaul in order to ensure passage of the draft bill after the Knesset returns from its summer recess.

Some critics of the judicial overhaul have protested the planned legislative pivot, however, launching a new series of demonstrations targeting gender-separate bus lines which service the ultra-Orthodox public.

Former Finance Minister MK Avidgor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and several other Opposition lawmakers have joined the demonstrations, which ostensibly protested recent allegations of discrimination in bus and air travel.

Most of the demonstrations, which included female and male protesters sitting together to challenge the ultra-Orthodox bus lines’ gender separation, ended without incident.

One protest, however, drew considerable media attention and sparked a backlash, with some critics comparing the demonstration to antisemitic harassment.

Female activists from the Brothers in Arms organization – a group which rose to prominence for its involvement in the anti-judicial reform protests – boarded a bus of Gerrer Hasidim, Yeshiva World News reported, with footage from the incident showing the women singing loudly.

Orthodox Jewish men traditionally avoid listening to women singing.

“Finally, these people reveal their true faces – hate, hate, hate,” wrote Walla’s Yaki Adamkar. “No other words are necessary.”

Journalist Shimon Riklin tweeted that “such images make sense in Germany, not in the Jewish state.”

Kan reporter Omri Chaim also took to Twitter, writing: “A group of ‘democratic heroes’ purposely harass the ultra-Orthodox – with a smile on their faces. What times we’re living in – there are those for whom everything is permitted and those against whom everything is permitted. This scene is sickening.”