This article examines the struggle for gender-segregated sea bathing in Tel Aviv from the first calls for gender segregation in the 1920s until 1966, when the city of Tel Aviv established a beach for men and women to swim separately. The most effective demands for gender segregation were framed in a civic and not religious discourse. Rather than claiming that gender-segregated swimming was against Jewish values, the ultra-Orthodox party Agudat Yisrael effectively argued that a lack of separate swimming violated their rights as taxpayers who had the right to bathe in the sea just as any other Israeli citizen.
Over the past 15 years, the Global War on Terrorism has necessitated an examination of the military’s practices and the way that they meet the complexities of new and different types of war and tactics. Vital to this examination are policies related to the inclusion and deployment of women in combat. Burba stated war is not a setting for social testing, but the American Military must embrace the social subtleties of gender differences in an effort to meet the Armed Services requirement for an ever-changing asymmetrical battlefield. This study compares and contrasts the American current policy divergent to three other countries’ policies that have successfully integrated women into combat: Norway, Canada, and Israel. Through this examination, an opportunity to recognize gaps in training and procedural information that are most important to the successful implementation in the United States is revealed. The scientific data, although supporting the fact that physiological differences exist between men and women, were not supported in the argument that all women should be excluded from combat units. In all case studies, it was found that women who volunteered for combat assignments performed equally as well as their male counterparts without degradation of operational readiness or a lower unity of cohesion. However, I was not surprised that the leaders of the three counties observed that the successful integration of women into combat units is not about changing a culture. It is simply a leadership issue.
Moore, Dahlia. “Israeli Women—Changes and Their Consequences.” In Psychology of Gender Through the Lens of Culture. Theories and Applications (ed. Saba Safdar, Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka; New York: Springer, 2015), 113-46.
Structural, macrolevel factors (e.g., education level, the degree of sex-segregation in the labor market, availability of child-care facilities, tax exemptions for working mothers or dual-worker families, and other measures of industrialization) should be included in the analysis of changes in the lives of women as they contribute to our understanding of differences among societies. The impact of these macrolevel changes is not uniform across all groups and categories within societies. In order for these changes to be effective and change society, a supportive—humanistic and/or egalitarian—ideology is necessary. However, egalitarian and equal-worth ideals are not spread evenly. In Israel, as in all western societies, some segments maintain more traditional beliefs concerning the social roles of men and women and the division of labor between them, while others are more egalitarian. The main cultural areas in which changes may have occurred and are examined in this chapter include self-attribution of traits and locus of control, gender identities, the gendered division of labor, perceptions of family and work roles, and stereotypes against women. This chapter examines these issues in the diverse Israeli society.
Ben-Porat, Amir. Cosi (non) fan tutte. Women in the Football Pitch. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2015 (in Hebrew).
Women began to play soccer some time after this game was coded and turned into the game par excellence of the working class in England, and thus stirred heated emotions. The men united against them: the English Football Association banned them and its members were ordered not to cooperate with them; the male-controlled press denounced them and determined the game as not suitable for them. But nevertheless, and despite of it all, English women founded football clubs of their own and held games among themselves. Over the years, women’s soccer expanded to other Western countries, and then on to South America, Asia and Africa. One hundred and seventy-seven countries now have women’s soccer, including Israel. Women’s soccer enjoys a “relative autonomy” around the world, granted to it by national and international soccer institutions, led by men. Women achieved this autonomy through a persistent and unremitting struggle that paralleled the feminist struggle that took place on the political front, but also set apart from it. In Israel, Women’s soccer is conducted on the margins: the number of groups is not large, the budget is low, and the audience is scarce. Its status is as a leaf falling in the forest: with no one to see nor hear. And yet, during the season the players take to the field week after week, to show success in spite of it all, to themselves, and to others.
As with religious women’s quest to create inclusive faith communities, which in Plaskow’s assessment means allowing “the words of women to rise out of the white spaces between the letters in the Torah as we remember and transmit the past through the experience of our own lives,” women’s peace work takes place in unmapped white spaces. Their religious experience, exemplified by a Muslim woman’s story of a holy mother standing watch, invites us to reconsider our understanding of community and the meaning of peace and security – a reconsideration that is enriched when Palestinian women’s activism is analyzed with reference to Jewish feminist theology.
As demonstrated in this essay, the two fall into natural dialogue, articulating perspectives that are absent from secular conversations on women’s peacemaking. The questions raised by their life experiences as women of faith – on the nature of female participation in justice struggles, on the politics of space, on the relationship with the land, on interpersonal encounter – demand a change in language and a more holistic analysis of the issues at stake.
This article explores how material and ideological forms of social exclusion manifest at the borders of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and play out in the walking patterns of surrounding (non-Ultra-Orthodox) populations. It is based on a pilot study that uses a mixed methods design consisting of mental maps and questionnaires to examine how (particularly female) residents living in close proximity to Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods perceive these spaces, experience themselves in relation to the gender norms reproduced there and make wayfinding choices accordingly. This study builds on previous ones that have explored both the contested terrain of Jerusalem’s city center and the dynamic relationship between the social and the spatial to include a discussion of how religiosity and cultural politics express themselves in the commonplace, embodied act of the female pedestrian.
The place of religion in the public sphere is a controversial issue, and scholarly opinions differ, from insisting on a public sphere that reflects the religion of the majority, to those who insist on it being religion-free. Using the method of inquiry of contextual political theory, we examine the struggle of the Women of Wall (WoW) to pray collectively at the Western Wall. Their struggle began in 1988, and by 2013 includes many Courts decision, social struggles, public committees, and the involvement of many politicians and organizations, both in Israel and the USA. As this struggle takes place at the holiest place for observant Jews, it raises questions beyond its geographical location. The article describes three main normative approaches to state–religion relations (privatization, evenhandedness, and ‘dominant culture view’—DCV), examines them, and attempts to consider their application to the WoW case. Our conclusion points to the advantages of the privatization model, the permissibility of the evenhanded model and points to major shortcomings of the DCV.
Meydani, Assaf. The Anatomy of Human Rights in Israel. Constitutional Rhetoric and State Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Why is there such a large gap between the declarations that countries make about human rights and their imperfect implementation of them? Why do states that have enacted laws and signed treaties about human rights choose to not enforce these laws in daily life? Why have activists failed to achieve the goals of ensuring human rights domestically and internationally? This book examines the issue of human rights in the Israeli domestic arena by analyzing the politics and strategies of defending human rights. To do so, it integrates the tools of social choice theory with a unique institutionalist perspective that looks at both formal and informal, and local and international factors. The book offers an analysis explaining the processes through which Israel is struggling to promote human rights within a specific institutional environment, thus determining the future of Israeli democracy and its attitude toward human rights.
Table of Contents
2. Institutional theory and social choice studies: understanding the anatomy of human rights
3. Human rights between constitutional rhetoric and state practice
4. Structural and cultural variables favoring a short-term orientation
5. The right to be free from the threat of torture in light of structural and cultural complexity
6. The right to equality: gender segregation on ultra-orthodox buses following the Israeli High Court of Justice ruling on the ‘segregation lines’ in 2011
7. The right to enjoy a decent lifestyle: the case of the Laron law – national insurance law (amendment no. 109, 2008) encouraging the disabled to work
8. The human rights commission in Israel that never was
9. Property rights – the issue of designing policy about the separation fence – the High Court of Justice case: Beit Sureiq Village v. the State of Israel, 2004
10. The right to human dignity and liberty: the organ transplant law, 5768 (2008)
11. Policy evaluation: analyzing the reality for human rights.
In the summer of 2011, a number of soldiers walked out of an auditorium in which a musical performance was taking place. The men, cadets in an officer’s course, explained that they walked out of the performance because there were female vocalists, and the halacha prohibits men from listening to females sing.
As a result of this incident, representatives of the army chief rabbinate as well as the Matka’l, or Israeli General Staff, convened to discuss and ultimately publish new guidelines addressing the participation of religious soldiers in military ceremonies featuring female vocalists. These new guidelines were in turn criticized by a group of army chaplains united under the name “Keren Lahav—for the strengthening of Judaism in the IDF.” The group published a joint document in which they stated that the army’s decisions had undermined the trust of religious soldiers in the system. They claimed that the new guidelines—which were approved by the IDF’s Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz—demonstrated Peretz’s ignorance of the inner workings of the army system. One criticism against Rabbi Peretz was that he had not risen to his position from within the military but rather was an outside candidate placed directly at the top of the pyramid.
Englander, Yakir. “The Image of the Male Body in Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodox Thought in Israel and Corresponding Strategies for Forging an A-feminine Public Sphere.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 29.3 (2014): 457-70.
This article deals with the increasingly severe attitude in Jewish Ultra-Orthodox society in the State of Israel regarding the relationship between the sexes. I seek to trace the philosophical roots of this attitude, as a product of existential thinking within the male contingent of the Ultra-Orthodox (Lithuanian) world itself, and I propose that the growing separation between the sexes is a direct result of rabbinic efforts to re-structure this world from within. The image of the Ultra-Orthodox public sphere is considered to be an exact reflection of the male individual and the way of life that is required of him. Ultra-Orthodox thought requires men to stop the flow of life, causing a ‘disconnect’ between the reflective self and the world in which the self exists as an object without reflexivity. According to Ultra-Orthodox thought, inability and failure to live all of life as reflective are linked to the human person as an ‘embodied being’. I explain the Ultra-Orthodox solution to the ‘problem of the body’ and how it influences the structure of the yeshiva as a ‘safe haven’. This mode of dealing with the body entails the exclusion of femininity from male life in the yeshiva context and is also increasingly reflected in the public domain. In recent years, Ultra-Orthodox rabbis have designed the public sphere using the model of the yeshiva as a space that is a-feminine. This is supported by readings from new Ultra-Orthodox Musar writings, directed to men, which deal with women’s sexuality and create a new definition of modesty.
This study seeks to gain insight into a unique group, ultraorthodox women in Israel, and their views and attitudes on driving and road experiences. Ultraorthodox women are generally contending with spatial and mobility restrictions due to stringent gendered spaces and social norms in their communities. Specifically in Israel, throughout the ultraorthodox sector, women are strictly forbidden to drive. In this research, we put the emphasis on driving dilemmas that have received marginal attention both socially and empirically. A qualitative method was used, based on face-to-face in-depth interviews, with women from three major ultraorthodox communities. The findings reveal that the driving ban for ultraorthodox women in Israel generates ambivalence and conflict, and exacts a heavy social price. Moreover, in line with approaches of feminist geography, it raises issues of gender relations and cultural implications, such as restricting the space and the mobility of women in order to keep them in a subordinate position. The results are discussed in terms of gender roles, cultural exclusion, and spatiality, on both the practical and emotional levels. The study opens a window to a unique sector of the Israeli population, revealing unique dilemmas with which ultraorthodox women grapple daily in their community.
The aim of this article is to analyze the phenomenon of the exclusion of women from the public sphere in Israel. The article describes some of the causes of this phenomenon, its impact on Israeli society, and the difficulty in confronting it. Israeli women have made impressive gains on many fronts, but the exclusion of women from the public sphere as a result of the influence of the growing Ultra-Orthodox minority, which imposes its norms on the general public, raises serious concerns. The exclusion of women manifests itself in several forms: gender segregation in public spaces, the effacement of women’s images from the public sphere, and the suppression of women’s voice. The infiltration of Orthodox Jewish fundamentalism into Israeli society may cause the regression of advancements previously made in women’s rights in Israel. The article points to the limitations of the treatment of this phenomenon within a theory of multiculturalism, and suggests an alternative framework of discourse, which relies on concepts that are drawn from the literature on environmental ethics, public rights, and public ownership of space and resources.
Founded in 1998, the Mehadrin bus lines adhere to strict separation of men and women: women must board the bus at the back and sit only at the back, and men at the front. In addition, women must adhere to strict modesty rules in their attire, that is, for example, wear long skirts, no pants, and sleeves. The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) became involved after being approached by five women reporting physical or verbal abuse when not conforming to the segregation or modesty rules on the buses. The fear of those active in defense of the rights of women was that segregation will extend further into public spaces. Indeed, the issue of gender segregation became a major issue about preserving the presence of women in public spaces in Israel. On the other hand, the segregation issue raises the question of whether secular Israelis have the right to force Western standards on the ultra-Orthodox. This article examines the background, and the legal, religious, and political arguments raised in reconciling the rights of women and rights of religious observance yet supporting the Israeli nation’s goal of advancing democracy.