Dress code / by Susie Lubell



If only this post was about my son's obsession with his school uniform (which is basically a plain t-shirt and the school's logo). It's about what's going on only twenty minutes from where we live in Beit Shemesh, where ultra religious fanatics are terrorizing little girls for their immodesty. Little observant girls who are fully covered, but apparently still too provocative.

This is not a political blog but sometimes shit happens that is so unconscionable that I have to write something about it. Which I was planning to do and then Mr. Rosen sent out this email and I thought high time we had a guest blogger. So here you go.

Yes, we are all aware of this and watching it closely with concern.

The big concern is that if the government allows these idiots to behave this way and does not seriously crack down on them, this kind of behavior will become legitimate within that community.  Within the ultra orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem and a few other neighborhoods in Israel, similar types of behaviors have become acceptable or legitimate over the past 10 years, like woman sitting separately in the back of buses so as to not cause the men in the front to have a humiliating spontaneous erection.  The mistake Israeli governments have made over the years (and this is true for all governments since Ben-Gurion’s) was to let this behavior exist even as a grass roots phenomenon within the religious communities.  There are some very scary patterns within the Israeli religious communities (both orthodox and Zionistic) which in any other democracy would be considered religious fanaticism or racism.  Traditionally Israeli governments have been reluctant to tackle these issues head on because of the Israeli coalition structure which gives religious parties power that is disproportional to their represented size within Israeli society.  It is sad to see the racism that is so pervasive in this country.

Still, having said that, I think there is hope (I ask myself if I can live here long term if hope is lost).  Last summer there was a huge peaceful protest that was energized by the secular majority (80%).  These protests have had a minor effect, so far, on the way the country is governed, but it showed that this majority can snap out of its apathy.  I personally think that the secular majority, which includes the reform and conservative movements,  and the leaders of this past summer’s protests have to turn to the streets next summer and get political.  If violence is called for, so be it.  Human right issues have never been resolved peacefully.  Any racist political establishment anywhere in the world does not change wily-nilly due to peaceful protest.  One of the ways to make a big change here is to change the elected government structure to inhibit the disproportional power of elected small parties.  A constitution has to be written which puts democracy ahead of the state defined as a Jewish one.  I pray that the future will bring these changes.  Meanwhile I hope we find a way to live happily in our bubble of sanity.  We are surrounded by intelligent & open minded people that are passionate and thirsty for change.  Unfortunately my generation does not get to build a country from the ground up, but rather is tasked with shifting the sick trajectory this young country is on to one of democracy, human rights and religious pluralism.  I hope we do not pass these issues down to our children to tackle since by then it will be too late.  I hope the US president and the big American Jewish downers are taking note of this.  Tell your leaders we don’t need any more F-16s. We need more schools that teach poetry, music, math and world history.  It’s time to stop donating to the construction of Israel and instead pump cash into fixing what was badly engineered.