Facing an intensifying theocratic war to silence them, Israeli women chant ‘we are not afraid’ – but we are, writes LISA NAMDAR KAUFMAN.
There has been a flurry of media coverage recently of a spate of discriminatory incidents against women.
The most recent case happened at an army base last week. A group of female soldiers singing along to a pop song on the radio while on kitchen duty were told to turn off the radio and stop singing because it offended several religious male soldiers.
What happens when you tell a young soldier she cannot sing? That her voice is a liability? That she must be silent in deference to the sensitivities of the men around her?
What happens when you tell a 14-year-old girl to cover up and sit at the back of the bus, as a group of girls were told several weeks ago?
I was amazed when I saw the pictures of those girls slunk and covered. The swagger of brazen teenagers, of Israeli teenagers no less, squelched.
Israeli women have shrugged off casual sexism for so long. But where are the girls’ sports teams? (In 2021, less than 22% of those participating in sports over the age of 7 were girls or women.) The female CEOs? (Of 125 of Israel’s largest publicly traded companies, there is only one female CEO.) Representation in the Knesset? (These numbers were never stellar, but with the new government, they’ve taken a nosedive. Today, only 27% of lawmakers are women and only one ministry is directed by a woman.)
But now “we have woken up” as a new protest slogan declares. Being pushed to the back of the bus and off the stage, literally, has caused many Israeli women to dig in their heels and declare a red line. No more. At a protest outside the army base, the crowd chants, “We will not stop singing!”
Why women in Israel are terrified (Haaretz)
Israel Police rescue Beit Shemesh mayor from violent haredi protest (Jerusalem Post)
Ultra-Orthodox protestors besieged Mayor Aliza Bloch at a haredi school while she attended an opening ceremony.
Image: (Aron Erlich, Haaretz)