Israel’s Rosa Parks
Her refusal to go to the back of the bus produced a story on the front page of Ha’aretz, as well as supportive comments by Prime Minister Netanyahu in the meeting of the Government, by Opposition Head Tzipi Livni, and by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. All of those worthies decried the religious fashion of segregating women.
The former administrator of the Chief Rabbinate said on Israel Radio that all forms of “non-Jewish” extremism must end. He referred not only to the separation of women by the ultra-Orthodox in public places and the complete coverage of body and face by women, but also to the activities of Orthodox extremists acting against Arab individuals and property, including the desecration of mosques, and against soldiers assigned to protect Arabs or to remove illegal settlements. The commanding general of the army has emphasized that women will continue to serve in the IDF, and that women singers will continue to entertain his soldiers.
One can hope that extremism will exit the religious segment of Israeli politics, without really expecting it.
The African-American example, of which Rosa Parks was an element, may be useful in guiding the speculation.
In a society priding itself on being law-abiding, it took decades from the time the United States Supreme Court began ruling against segregation until the ultimate extension of desegregation and other civil rights to African-Americans in the 1960s. Subsequent research shows that the process continues. Although segregation may no longer be required by state law or local ordinance, there has been a re-segregation of education along with the continued segregation of housing, especially in the case of lower-income African-Americans. Social class may actually be the greater deterrent to equal opportunity than race or ethnicity, but for many individuals the analytic distinction makes no difference.