Gender Segregation Makes Headlines in Israel


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A conflict between Israel's secular and Ultra Orthodox Jews over gender segretation on buses has made local media headlines this week. Our Israeli correspondents bring us the story.

Ultra Orthodox Jews comprise about 10% of Israel's population.

Concentrated mostly in separate neighborhoods, they freely practice their religious customs, one of which is gender segregation.

But on public transport, with secular Jews on board, it's not so easy.

This week, local media reported extensively an incident where an Orthodox Jew riding a bus insisted a woman vacate her seat and go to the back.

But the woman refused and stood her ground.

For many secular Jews, who are concerned about the expansion of Orthodox Jewish influence, she became a heroine overnight.

[Tiran Arzuan, Secular Jew, Maintenance Man]:
"I think gender segregation should be respected in places where it is the local custom, but it shouldn't be forced upon the entire country. I think every sector of society should be respected and with understanding we can live together in cooperation."

[Ofra Fridman, Secular Jew, Student]:
"Recently it's becoming more and more common in more cities and towns. It used to be just in very Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, which is ok if they choose to do so. But now they are forcing other people in other places to do otherwise and it's really not that nice when someone tells you to sit just there or on the other side."

Eti Azuri, an Orthodox Jewish housewife, says she doesn't understand what the fuss is all about.

Eti Shazuri, Orthodox Jewish, Housewife]:
"The woman decided that she does not want to get up from her seat. Ok, that's her right. You cannot force her. But did she make all that fuss just to make some headlines and become famous? That's the question… If I was on a bus and a man sat next to me...