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I won’t sit at the back of the bus

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Tanya Rosenblit recounts clash of civilizations she experienced on Israeli bus; ‘until yesterday, I was sure that I live in a free country,’ she says


Until yesterday, I was sure that I live in a free country. I was certain that a person’s dignity and freedom are supreme values in our diverse society. Indeed, there are calls against one group or another, but people, whoever they are, regardless of religion, creed or gender, will be respected, because this is the kind of society I grew up in. These are the values I learned.

One of the passangers was unwilling to sit down and stayed on the stairs next to the driver the whole trip, yet another passenger decided to create a commotion. He prevented the driver from shutting the door and called his friends, who arrived at the site and gathered around the bus. There were about 20 of them, they spoke in Yiddish, and it appeared as though a small rally was organized to charge that this bus is theirs, via a deal with the Egged company, and that whoever boards it must adhere to the community’s demands.

They repeated this claim in Hebrew too, even though the driver attempted to explain to them that this is a regular Egged bus route and is not characterized a “kosher” one.

Yet I was left with a few questions following this incident: Why is limiting the rights and freedom of someone else considered fair when it comes in the form of adhering to Jewish law demands? Since when does the Torah come before basic manners? How could religion be used so cynically and how come nobody realized until now that this is a social problem, and that its connection to religion is slim to non-existent? How could it be that an entire community chooses to humiliate its daughters, wives and sisters and nobody raises a hue and cry? Who believes that one could really choose to live a life of humiliation and exclusion?


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