Activists board hareidi buses
Activists board hareidi buses Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

A plan by dozens of leftists to board en masse hareidim mehadrin bus lines, where there is separate seating for men and women, fizzled on Sunday when the hareidim chose not take buses in order to thwart the plan.

The plan was carried out by activists of the Yisrael Hofsheet (Be Free Israel) non-government organization. The members planned to board the busses around Israel to ensure that people are allowed to sit wherever they want.

Miki Gitzin, Be Free Israel’s Executive Director, rejected the idea that the hareidim’s religious values should be respected on public bus routes, thus making his group’s plan a provocation.

“It’s quite clear that religious values have nothing to do with what’s going on here,” he said. “It’s a situation in which people go and become more and more extreme about certain issues. I think that as Israelis we should go out and say something against it.”

“If someone goes and sits in the back of a bus or in the front of a bus it’s his or her business,” Gitzin added. “But when people are violently attacked for these reasons, this is something we’ll never accept.”

The group’s plan fizzled when people in the hareidi community were told not to take buses at 5:00pm, when the activists were boarding the buses, so that they would not be a part of the group’s provocation.

Meanwhile, one of the bus drivers of the mehadrin routes pointed out in a conversation with Arutz Sheva that in most cases, the separate seating between men and women happens spontaneously – men and women naturally sit separately as they would in any other hareidi-religious event.

The driver added that nobody tells anybody where they should sit, and if someone does comment and tells a couple they shouldn’t sit together, that is the exception and not the rule.

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