Rabbinical Council: Give Us Private Bus Lines

Rabbinical Council on Transportation says latest "leftist provocation" shows hareidi need their own bus lines. Will hareidi tycoons donate?

Gil Ronen ,

Women boarding bus.
Women boarding bus.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The hareidi Rabbinical Council on Transportation issued an angry press release Monday, demanding that hareidim be allowed once again to operate private bus lines. The statement comes in the wake of a leftist-instigated media frenzy over gender segregation in buses.

The council says that the "mehadrin" bus line arrangement in which women sit in the back of the bus is purely voluntary, and is carried out by women who wish to maintain their dignity in public transport, without coercion.

The statement reads: "We denounce any kind of coercion, both coercion against women to stand in a crowded mixed bus, and coercion against women to switch places in a bus, and the great scholars of Israel have published this several times in the past."

"We are witnessing an antidemocratic campaign of incitement that is timed and funded by various funds and bodies, which seek through intentional forceful provocations to besmirch an entire populace. We can only wonder about the widespread campaign  that has arisen, although these lines have been operating smoothly for more than 20 years."

The incident in Ashdod, say the rabbis, was a provocation carried out by a leftist agent provocateur who purposely sat in a way calculated to make it difficult for other passengers to pass be her, sang songs out loud and threatened other passengers. The police were only called in when several passengers whose feelings had been hurt asked to get off the bus and get their money back, yet the driver refused to reimburse them. 

The rabbis demanded an unbiased investigation of the event.

"The [hareidi] public and its representatives have asked the authorities several times in the past to allow private bus lines by law," they contended. "The Rabbinical Committee even tried to operate private lines and the Transportation Ministry fought tooth and nail to cancel them."

Hareidi Radio Kol Chai claimed in its nightly news roundup, that after "famous Rabbanim" expressed the wish for private buses,  five hareidi millionaires had donated enough money for private bus lines in hareidi neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Beit Shemesh as well as some intercity lines. They claimed the buses would have a box for donations, but that they would be free to those who do not choose to donate. The separation on the private buses would be mandatory.