Israel’s Universities Plan Gender-separate Classes for ultra-Orthodox – Saudi Arabia comes to Israel
Israel’s Universities Plan Gender-separate Classes for ultra-Orthodox – Saudi Arabia comes to Israel
Choice in the Israeli State means male and female lecturers only teach the same sex
Western liberals have long turned a blind eye
to racial segregation in Israel – the fact that Jews and Arabs are segregated in
Education, the Civil Service, most employment, land and housing and indeed most
areas of civil society is taken for granted in a Jewish state. Even (or maybe especially) the Israeli Labour
Party supports separation i.e. segregation. [see Labor Adopts
Herzog’s Plan for Separation From Palestinians as Party Platform]
Now we are beginning to see sexual segregation in Universities. At the Hebrew University there are now separate classes for Orthodox men and women. And that means that women lecturers cannot teach men, so the segregation is spreading into the faculty as well.
Ultra-Orthodox youngsters on the backdrop of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Olivier Fitoussi
In Israel exceptions to the norm are taken to
be the norm as tokenism is used to represent normalcy (for example there is one
Arab Supreme Court judge out of 11 (i.e. 9% compared to Arabs being 20% of the
population). What you are not told is
that he is only the second such judge in the history of the State of Israel and
that there is massive under-representation of Arabs throughout the legal
profession. But this is nonetheless used
to demonstrate how Israel is an equal society.
What you are also not told is that gender
segregation is also pervasive and becoming more pervasive in Israel society. The basis for the Zionist claim on Israel was
the use of the Jewish religion to legitimise its settler colonial project. The concept of Zion was always a religious
concept which the Zionist movement co-opted for political purposes.
Although the founders of the Zionist movement
and the Israeli state were secular, they based their state on the very god that
they denied! Although David Ben Gurion was
an atheist, he waxed lyrical on the promises that god made to the Jewish people
in terms of the Biblical Land of Israel.
This contradiction ran through Labour Zionism, including its ‘Marxist’
wing, Mapam/Hashomer Hatzair.
Segregation of the sexes is normal amongst the
Jewish Orthodox. When I was young and
went to my local Orthodox synagogue, women went upstairs into the balcony and
men went downstairs. It was so normal
that I never even thought about it.
Actually relatively few women even went to the synagogue because it was
expected that when the men came home from a gruelling 3 hours of boredom at the
synagogue, they would have something to eat.
Naturally this would have to be prepared by the mother and wife and
therefore attendance at the synagogue was purely voluntary.
The history of the Israeli state is a history
of concessions to the Orthodox. Because Israel
is a Jewish state there was and is no secular definition of what it is to be Jewish. The Orthodox Rabbinate was therefore given
the role of defining ‘Who is a Jew’ and
they of course reserved exclusive control over converting to a Jew. This does of course cause problems because
American Jewry, the largest Jewish community in the world after Israel, is
primarily Conservative and Reform. In my
father’s eyes (he was an Orthodox Rabbi) Reform Jews were not really Jews,
indeed they were worse than Christians because at least you knew where you were
with the latter! Reform Judaism threatened the purity of the Jewish people/race.
So in Israel there is a considerable number of
what in Nazi Germany were called Mischlinge, mixed race, who are not
considered Jewish according to strict Orthodoxy but are nonetheless part of the
Israeli Jewish section of the population.
No doubt in time they will be formally assimilated to the Jewish majority
as splits in the ranks of the colonists is to be deplored.
Segregation of the sexes is legal on buses in Jerusalem,
because of the demands of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Women who have objected have been assaulted. So in 2011 the Supreme Court ruled that
segregation was legal on Israeli buses –
with passengers’ consent of course! [High
Court: Gender Segregation Legal on Israeli Buses – but Only With Passenger
Consent]. But even if it were not
legal it would in practice occur because of the strength of the Hardis.
Women at the women’s section of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem – there is fierce Orthodox opposition to the presence of women, who are considered ‘unclean’
We found out recently that there is a quaint practice
of giving Jewish women the ‘choice’ of not having to share a maternity ward
with Arabs. [Maternity Ward Segregation (is) Just
Tip of the Iceberg in Israel] and Jewish students at the Technion, Israel’s oldest University and
probably other universities too, had the right, when sharing
residential accommodation, not to have to share with someone who was an
Arab. Of course there are some people who would call this racist, but I
would prefer to think of it as the extension of the Choice Agenda that Tony
Blair advocated. After all it is a
common belief in Israel that Arabs are dirty and unhygienic so why should Jews be
forced, for the sake of political correctness, to have to live with them? Everyone should have the right to choose not
to have to live with a person of the wrong race or religion!
It is nice to read, therefore, that the Choice
Agenda is being extended to Universities too.
It is accepted in Israel that the Haredi, ultra-orthodox section of Israeli
Jewish society, is under represented in higher education. The obvious reason for this is that they are
content to spend much of their lives studying nonsense in yeshivahs, religious
seminaries where they pore over the wisdom in the Talmud and similar
books. In Israel the Haredi section of
the population is growing as a percentage of the Jewish population. From 11% in 2011 it is predicted
to grow to 18% in 2030 and 27%
in 2059. What this means is that the Haredi parties have an
increasing influence politically in Israeli society. Many secular Israelis take care to have a
second passport since they understand that Israel is in practice becoming not
only a more racist society but one where religious practice is being imposed by
law on the irreligious, for example public transport on a Saturday doesn’t
happen in cities like Jerusalem.
It is therefore gratifying to know that as part of
the campaign to help encourage greater Haredi participation in the workforce
and Israeli academic life, plans are being made to expand the already existing
system of gender separate degree courses.
I must confess I didn’t even know about this practice though it is of no
surprise that it was in effect at the religious university of Bar Ilan in
liberal Tel Aviv. After all Bar Ilan has
separate residential accommodation for Jews and Arabs, so why not have separate
classes and even a campus for men and women?
Now it would seem that having bitten the bullet and
accepted gender segregation on bachelor courses, it is now proposed to extend
these to advanced degrees as well. And
whilst previously these courses have been restricted to Haredi students, it is
now proposed that non-Haredi students are included meaning that the notion of
separate classes for men and women in Israeli universities will take hold more
Of course this presents problems. You can hardly have separate classes for male
and female students in Israeli universities and then having, for example, a
female lecturer taking an all-male group, or vicer versa. So there is clearly and obviously a need to
have a separate system of faculty too, divided by sex, so that women lecturers
will be expected more and more to teach female students and male lecturers will
take male students.
Of course there will be some on the politically
incorrect left who will object as a matter of principle but I’m sure that in
time people even outside Israel will come to see the benefits of all-women
lecture halls taught by women lecturers.
Indeed it could be argued that this is really just a form of Jewish feminism
whereby women aren’t subject to intimidation or domination by mean A form of women’s emancipation led by our
Naturally there is also opposition to this by those
who find it hard to adapt to modern times.
Joseph Klafter, the President of Tel Aviv University, has made it clear that they
won’t be following the example of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. One imagines that the founders of the Hebrew University,
which include Albert Einstein and Judah Magnes, are presently spinning in their
grave, at the idea of gender separation in the universities. It is literally Saudi Arabia come to Israel!
As one might expect Ha’aretz, which represents
what is left of liberal Israel, has issued a strident leader but it is fighting
a losing battle. It is the logic of a state
whose settler racism is based on Orthodox Jewish religious tracts that gender
separation which began on buses and facilities within those communities has now
expanded out into wider society.
Those who argue that Israel is a liberal
democracy, as creatures like Labour’s Luke Akehurst and Tom Watson are
deliberately lying. The Israeli state is
heading in one direction and it isn’t towards womens’ liberation.
say this would increase inequality on campus, and would be damaging to female
Skop Apr 21, 2017 8:58 AM
A class at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Givat Ram campus. Emil Salman
Council for Higher Education in Israel is planning on opening gender-separate
classes at Israel’s universities to encourage enrollment of ultra-Orthodox
classes currently exist only at colleges, university preparatory programs and a
special campus at Bar-Ilan University.
heads have been divided over the plan, as have the members of the council, who
are to vote on the matter next month.
prepared by a team of experts, presented to the council before Passover, also
recommended allowing students who are not defined as ultra-Orthodox to join
gender-separate programs, and to expand gender separation in colleges to
include advanced-degree programs.
document concedes that the model proposed for gender-separate classes in the
universities could be harmful to both male and female non-Orthodox students but
that there were many advantages, both social and academic, that should be taken
would “greatly reduce the damage to equality caused by the very establishment
of separate academic frameworks for Haredim [ultra-Orthodox], and prevents
‘islands’ of separation,” the document said.
of the plan told Haaretz that opening separate classes for Haredim would lead
to greater inequality on campus, and would be damaging to female lecturers.
council established the program to incorporate the Haredim in academic
education, it repeatedly declared that gender and sectoral separation were
foreign to academic studies, opposed to their essence, and impairs equality.
But the exception was justified as a temporary measure in light of its
important goals, that it would limited to bachelors’ degrees only and to
clearly Haredi students, with no compromises,” Prof. Orna Kupferman, of the
Hebrew University’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, and former vice
rector of the university, who was responsible for the program incorporating
Haredim, told Haaretz
second five-year program now on the table abandons this temporary nature and
the apologetics for the compromises with the academic essence,” she said.
the biggest bones of contention in the program is that women are not allowed to
teach male-only classes. Opponents have also said that the separation is
harmful to the pluralistic and egalitarian character of academic life.
past, the Council for Higher Education denied that female lecturers were barred
from teaching on ultra-Orthodox campuses, but now it has become the norm in the
programs and it seems the council has accepted it.
council is also divided with regard to expanding the student body of the
special programs for the ultra-Orthodox, most of whose participants are on
scholarship, to include non-Orthodox participants.
to the document, the council’s position is that up to 10 percent of the
candidates for the special programs may be non-Haredi. Opponents say that
relaxing the definition of who is considered ultra-Orthodox will create
creeping gender-separation as students from a national religious background
seek to enter the program.
definition of Haredi at present is anyone who studied from ninth to 12th grade
in an institution classified as Haredi by the Education Ministry.
now, gender-separate programs are only offered for bachelors’ degrees. But the
document said limiting gender-separation to bachelors’ degrees was only a
temporary decision and that “there is a possibility, if the need arises, to
revisit this policy in the years to come, especially with regard to advanced
degrees in the therapeutic professions, which cannot be practiced without a
master’s degree and for which there is a critical need in the Haredi community.”