Sisterhood Blog

Jerusalem's Mayor Bending to Haredi Pressure?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Israeli blogger Hanna Beit Halachmi asks in the title of her most recent post whether Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is good for Jewish women. For her the question is rhetorical, as she is outraged as what she perceives as the many signs that Barkat is capitulating to Haredi political pressure, especially when it comes to the elimination of women from the public sphere.

Barkat’s punishing of City Council member Rachel Azaria earlier this week for petitioning the High Court of Justice to enforce a prior ruling prohibiting the segregation of men and women on the streets of Haredi neighborhoods, is just the latest example. The Sisterhood broke that news in this post.

While liberal and pluralistic Jerusalemites are railing against Azaria’s firing from her job overseeing early childhood education and local councils administration, Barkat maintains that his actions have absolutely nothing to do with religious pluralism and civil rights, and everything to do with procedural matters. He maintains that just as a government minister cannot sue the prime minister, neither can a city council member submit a legal complaint against the municipality.

“The Jerusalem municipality opposes gender separation in public spaces, and it will continue to help the police enforce the law as is required,” a city spokesman told Haaretz:

Without any connection to this, the rule that all coalition factions are beholden - as a result of their membership in the municipal coalition - to mutual commitment and loyalty remains in effect. Azaria’s attempt to have it both ways by remaining a member of the municipal administration while filing a complaint against it is implausible and inappropriate. It was made entirely clear to her that her actions as a coalition member were not acceptable, and she was asked to change her position. But she preferred to oppose the municipality.

Beit Halachmi isn’t buying it. She contends that Azaria’s complaint, in its original form, was not against the municipality, but rather that the municipality inserted itself into the matter when it asked to respond as a third party, on the grounds that the actions in question were taking place within its boundaries.

Barkat is a secular mayor who was elected thanks to the groundswell of support he received from young, liberal and “enlightened” Jerusalemites who gave him a mandate to wrestle the city from its Haredi stranglehold.

Legal specifics aside, Beit Halachmi, I and many others want to know why he is turning toward the most close-minded, right-wing ultra-Orthodox and against the woman who represents the best hope for Jerusalem’s future.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jerusalem, Haredi, Gender Segregation

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.