A Difference Between India and Israel

Yisrael Medad,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Yisrael Medad
I am a resident of Shiloh, with my wife and children, and now grandchildren, since 1981, having come on Aliyah in 1970. I have served in a volunteer capacity as a Yesha Council spokesperson, twice a member of Amana's secretariat, Benjamin Regional Council plenum member and mayor of Shiloh. I was a parliamentary aide for Geula Cohen and two other MKs, an advisor to a Minister, vice-chairman and executive director of Israel's Media Watch and was Information and Content Resource coordinator for the Begin Heritage Center. I am now Deputy Editor of the critical edition in anthology of Jabotinsky's writing in English.

Sabarimala is a Hindu temple, one of the most holiest Hindu sites. It is located in Kerala, India. The figures of those making the annual pilgrimage reach 17–30 million devotees visiting every year.

There is, however, a problem.

Due to matters that we in Judaism were term niddah, there had been a ban on the entrance of women above the age of 10 and below the age of 50 to the temple. This was overturned some six weeks ago by India's Supreme Court of India. Their decision was that the selective ban on women was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

That hasn't quite resolved the matter of rather extremists Hindus. Just the other day,

"Nearly 200 frenzied devotees tried to prevent a 52-year-old woman from entering the Lord Ayyappa temple on Tuesday...The woman was escorted into the shrine by the police later.

A Ms. Lalitha came to the hill temple with 19 relatives, including women, for her grandson’s ‘chorunnu’ (rice giving ceremony) but she was, at first, denied entry by devotees clapping and chanting “Ayyappa saranam”. The police overcame religious-motivated threats of violence to provide equality.

Why is this relevant?

As Arutz7 has reported, Israel's Supreme Court also decided on a matter of entry into the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Unlike India's court, that of Israel seemed to be much more restrictive:

The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition filed by a right-wing party challenging a police decision to limit the use of metal detectors at the entrance of the Temple Mount to Jews and other non-Muslim visitors.

The background to the decision stemmed from the temporary placing of metal detectors at all the gates in July 2017 following a terrorist incident when guns were smuggled into the Temple Mount compound which were used to murder two policemen. Metal detectors were put in place but removed from all the entrances except the Hallel/Mugrabi Gate which serves non-Muslims, Jews and foreign tourists.

The petitioners noted that this non-Muslim discrimination should be declared unlawful as it violates equality. They also pointed out to the court that while Muslims have been responsible for attacks and violent disturbances on the Temple Mount, it is the Jews who are forced to undergo scrutiny as the checking of foreign tourists is quite perfunctory.

The decision (here in Hebrew). In Section 11 the Justices repeat the platitude that the site is endowed with a special "sensitivity". They accept the police explanations why there is a difference in the manner of maintaining security checks.

They quote paragraph 3D(1) of the law prohibiting inequality as regards entrance to public places as well as providing services and selling products which allows inequality if it stems from the "character or the essence of the product, the service of the public place".

In doing so, Israel's Supreme Court could learn a lesson from that of India.