What You Need to Know
Contact Transport Minister Katz and ask him to reject public buses with segregated seatingCall
- Update: The deadline for Minister Katz's decision has been extended.
- Israel’s High Court of Justice has given Transport Minister Israel Katz (Likud) until December 27 (update: the deadline has been extended) to present his position on gender- segregated bus lines. The order followed a report by a special committee set up by the Ministry of Transport, which ruled that these bus lines are illegal because they humiliate and discriminate against women passengers.
- The Ministry of Transport committee was set up following a petition in 2007 by veteran New Israel Fund grantee Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) for Progressive Judaism (Reform) and novelist Naomi Ragen against the gender-segregated bus lines. The court ordered the committee to consider, rule on and regulate the matter.
- More than ten years ago, the ultra-Orthodox (haredi) community asked Israel’s public bus company, Egged, to provide segregated busses in their neighborhoods. By early 2009 more than 55 such lines were operating around Israel. Typically, women are required to enter through the bus back doors and sit in the back of the bus, as well as “dress modestly.”
- Some buses operate in or through mixed neighborhoods and are the only buses running on particular routes. In Jerusalem, the segregated buses actually charge lower fares than ordinary Egged busses. Women who refuse to sit in the back of the bus are frequently threatened verbally and physically by haredi men who “enforce” the segregation system.
- In October, the special Ministry of Transport committee recommended a year-long trial in which men and women could choose to enter the buses by separate doors and sit separately, but stressed that all seating on public buses must be voluntarily and no coercion must be used. The committee further stressed that there is no separate, publicly-run bus system for haredi communities, and every member of the public has the right to use buses in accordance with basic human rights and the principle of equality.
- Many Israelis fear that the right-wing governing coalition, which includes all but one of the major religious parties, will pressure the Minister into rejecting the committee report and supporting the continuation of segregated and discriminatory public transportation.
Learn MoreFor more information about this issue, please visit the links below
- Hotline founded for women offended by 'kosher' buses (YNet)
- Pluralism wars reignite, U.S. Jews join fight (JTA)
- Ministry: 'Bus segregation is legal if voluntary' (Jerusalem Post)
- Cityfront: Separating the issues (Jerusalem Post)
- Israeli women fight relegation to back of bus (JTA)
- FRANCE 24 Report / Israel: sexist segregation on the bus (YouTube)
To learn more about the New Israel Fund's position on religious pluralism and tolerance, be sure to read NIF President Naomi Chazan's Op-Ed in Yediot Aharonot, and NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch's piece on the U.S. State Department's report.
Also, please read about Zahava Fisher, an activist on the front-lines of this controversy.