Nov 11, 2007

news clip of bus attack in Bet Shemesh (video)

A couple of weeks ago there was an incident of a woman sitting in the wrong section of a Mehadrin bus from Bet Shemesh to Bnei Brak. The woman ended up in an altercation with the local extremists and she refused to switch seats and move to the back of the bus. After they beat her and a soldier who came to her assistance, they fled the scene and disappeared.

The story has made it beyond the local scene and was included in a writeup on Haredim and Bet Shemesh in the NY Times recently. It was discussed ad nauseum in the blog world (including here briefly), along with by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz and others.

Israel's channel 2 did a news clip on the incident and interviewed the woman who was involved, and the soldier as well. I had suggested, not knowing any differently, that maybe the woman did not want to move because she was elderly or not well.

It turns out she is a young woman and I see no reasonable reason for her to not have moved (other than maybe she was tired and hates the back of the bus which vibrates more and is hotter). She is wrong for alighting a Mehadrin bus that has rules of separate seating and sitting in the mens section.

It reminds me of a story that I witnessed once. There used to be a private van/bus service to Bnei Brak that was mehadrin, before Egged set up a mehadrin line. I used to travel regularly on this van because it was the quickest way for me to get to work (for a while, pre-train days). One time a couple gets on the bus and they sit together in the middle of the van. The driver (who was an Arab and did not really care) told him to move to the front and not sit with the women (he was making the other women clearly uncomfortable).

He started to scream that he wants to sit with his wife and nobody can stop him and there is nothing wrong with it. I happen to have been in agreement with his position however I felt that if he felt it to be so, he should go on the regular bus line. It is wrong of him, despite there being nothing wrong with it, to abuse the services provided and not follow the rules. You want to sit with your wife, do not ride the mehadrin line (assuming there is an alternative).

When he screamed the driver left him alone and nobody else really cared and the women who were uncomfortable left him alone and said nothing. So he stayed where he was. I said something to him afterwards that he is riding a private van service that has rules and despite his being generally right, he is using someone else's service and he should follow their rules. He brushed it off saying he had every right.

That being said, despite the fact that this girl is likely to be wrong and should have moved to the back or ridden a non-mehadrin line (assuming there is one), that gives the assaulters no right to have attacked her. They could have protested to Egged for not enforcing the rules. They shjould have found a different way of dealing with the issue.

Anyways, Channel 2 in Israel just ran a short piece interviewing some of those involved. It also touches on some of the larger issues and the "dati-leumi protest" that took place last week.

I am not going to translate it, but the Hebrew is not difficult.


  1. Her story is that they just attacked her; no one even asked her to move.

  2. yeah, but I do not believe they got on the bus and just started hitting her. They must have said something - even if not nicely. Maybe they screamed at her to move to the back. The haredi guy they interview says they offered her money to take a taxi and she refused saying she was staying right where she was...

    so let's say the story is somewhere in the middle - they somehow requested/demanded that she move. It does not really make a difference anyway. The result is the same.

  3. Sorry but what's a "Mehadrin" bus?

  4. stef- a mehadrin bus is a line of buses egged has created for the purpose of catering to a certain community. The mehadrin bus is one where the men sit in front and the women in back.

  5. I see no difference, I have taken the arab buses from shaar yafo to tzomat gilo and trust me it was traumatizing.. I even texted jameel saying he should call the cops if he didnt hear from me in 15 min..

    I mean it was pretty scary but thats what you get for taking a private arab bus...

  6. there are 2 diff issues here.

    one is the fact that she was on an obvious mehadrin bus. but maybe the regular bus was late or she just missed it or - she didn't realize and by then her peklech were down and set and she was exhausted. The second issue is the issur di'oraysa of hezek and chaburah. moshe called dasan a rasha for simply raising his hand against a fellow jew, imagine if you actually hit one.

  7. kol hakavod, Rafi, for reporting the rest of the story. I'm not hearing this side on the blogosphere.

  8. as I said, whether she was right or wrong and should or should not have acted differently does not justify what they did. Maybe she was wrong (and I think she was), but what they did was unjustifiable and unacceptable..

  9. Re; The Video

    Shalom Lerner is dreaming if he thinks it is only 60 families behind the violence.

  10. there is a big difference between a private van that can make its own rules, to an egged bus line.
    someone that lives in RBS and wants to take a bus to j'lem has the right to take the first egged bus.
    what do you mean that she should go on teh "regular" bus line?
    most of the egged busses from RBS to j'lem are "mehadrin".
    what if i want to go with my wife and kids on the bus?

    i also cannot belive that the "mehadrin" busses will hold up in court. can egged make a rule that a certain line is only for jews and will kick arabs off if they try to get on?
    how can it be legal for egged to make the women sit in the back of the bus if they don't want to?

    but this all has nothing to do with the fact that no one should be assaulted (it is both illegal and against halacha)

  11. y - I agree with you. there is no such halacha.
    However, most of the buses from RBS to jerusalem are not mehadrin. As far as I know the only mehadrin line from RBS to jerusalem is the 418 which runs very infrequently (see egged website for schedule but if my memory serves me correctly it runs once every couple of hours). All the other buses are not mehadrin.

    The bus on which the incident happened was to bnei Brak not Jerusalem. I do nto know if there are some mehadrin and some non-mehadrin.

    If she wants to fight the mehadrin bus in court, go ahead. There is a group that started court proceedings to declare the mehadrin lines discriminatory and illegal. What will end up with that I do not know, but it is hard to imagine the courts not declaring them illegal.

    But in the meantime, if she is on a mehadrin bus she should follow the rules.

    Of course I also said that maybe she had a good reason - maybe she was elderly or tired or pregnant or hot or maybe she was traveling with family. All those reasons are good reasons to not follow the rules (if they cannot be followed), but honestly after seeing the video, she does not look like she qualifies for any reason to not follow the rules.

    Maybe she did have a good excuse but my impression is that she was not moving just because she felt she was right and not because she had a good reason.

    Again, that does not justify what they did to her. That is in no way acceptable.

  12. Actually, when one sees such an obvious wrong perpetrated, one should protest. She did that. She staged a "sit-in" (pun intended) and has every right to do so. Just like the chareidim are allowed to protest the gay parade non-violently and get in the way of the parade, as well as the myriad of other protests they stage. She too is allowed to stage a protest in a nonviolent manner. I am taking back what I said above about her following the rules. No she didn't have to. she has the right to protest a government funded mistake.

  13. not as frum as rav mosheNovember 12, 2007 5:39 PM

    Rav Moshe Feinstein allowed men and women to ride the subway sand busses- even during rush hour and even though they would touch each other because of the crowds (see Iggros Moshe Even HaEzer vol. II, siman 14).

    He would be stoned or beaten in RBS.

  14. not as frum - you are probably right. Rav Moshe would probably be stoned in Bet if he were to walk thrugh....

    Shaya - I doubt she had such lofty ideas in mind. She was probably just thinking - they won't tell me where to sit!... but again, it does not really matter.

  15. um, rafi, everything I saw said that this was NOT a mehadrin bus.

    infact they explicitly state that it was not, only that they had "declared" it mehadrin. 497 was the line, and if I understood and remember what was said correctly, it was NOT mehadrin.

    the heredim who ride it declared it mehadrin because of a bus bombing, but that was not registered with egged.

    please get your facts straight.

  16. halfnutcase - that point was very unclear. In the articles I read it seemed the bus was not mehadrin. In the news clip they clearly say it is mehadrin. So I do not know.

    BTW, the bus line you are talking about where they declared it mehadrin on their own because of a bus bomb, was the number 2 bus line in Jerusalem (the one the Miriam Shear incident happened on).

    There are other bus lines that are mehadrin, officially by Egged. Whether the 497 is or is not I am not sure. The articles indicated not, the news clip said yes.

  17. halfnut - that article, like all the articles I have seen are not clear on whether it was or was not mehadrin. It does not say. I am now relying on the news clip that says it was.

  18. I thought that it said that the issue of whether or not the line was mehadrin was contentious between egged and the community should point out its status for all to see.

    Obviously the community there wants the bus to be mehadrin, because certainly I don't think that egged would bother with it if they didn't have too.

    Which clearly indicates that the article says that it isn't mehadrin.

    Besides, don't they have a website that you can look it up on?

  19. interesting thought. They have a website - - I use it to check times of buses when my kids need to go to jerusalem... I never thought of checking to see if they have mehadrin status listed... though my kids take the 418 sometimes which is mehadrin and I do not remember seeing it listed as mehadrin. I will check it out

  20. Egged's agreement with the Chareidi community regarding Mehadrin lines is that it is a VOLUNTARY arrangement by each and every individual passenger. This agreement stipulates that Egged will not be held responsible for enforcing a Mehadrin status; furthermore, harrassment or any other time of coercion may not be used to impose separate seating on those who do not wish to sit separate. This was Egged's argument that was submitted to the High Court on April 30, 2007 in response to the petition filed by 5 women requesting that the Mehadrin lines be suspended from Egged and Dan Bus Companies. There is a hearing on December 12th before the High Court.

    One more point: While many feel that one should, as a matter of civility, respect the status on a public bus designated as Mehadrin (i.e., an Egged bus) it should be noted that this respect has not been reciprocated. The incident on the #2 bus last November in which I was assaulted was NOT a Mehadrin bus. This fact did not seem to impress anyone on that bus. To get a bus designated as Mehadrin, all that one has to do is submit a form to Egged for review. Egged has reviewed every single application and granted most of them. Yet, this simple procedure of due process has been ignored in favor of the more "expedient" approach of violence as a means to an end.

  21. Thank you Miriam Shear for letting us know the actual legal status and how the mehadrin system works. What bothers me if the whole system is voluntary with no enforcement by Egged is 1) that enables these people. if nobody else is enforcing it then they appoint themselves as enforcers. (not that it mattered in your case because the #2 in Jerusalem is not mehadrin) and 2) what then makes it mehadrin. Isn't every single bus line seating by volunteery choice? Meaning if everyone got on the #31 bus (just picked a random number) in yahoopitzville and volunteered to sit separate, that would make it mehadrin (at least for that one ride). What has egged done by declaring a specific bus to be mehadrin if they then say it is only volunteery?

  22. BTW, I checked the egged website. I only checked the bus #'s 418 and 497 and it says nothing about mehadrin status (but I know the 418 is mehadrin).
    I did not check any other line because I do not know which other lines are mehadrin... if anybody has other bus numbers they KNOW are mehadrin I woul dbe happy to check.

    I also did a general search for the word mehadrin on the website to see if maybe they had the rules posted and I found no such reference...

  23. Egged has no business running Manhedrin bus lines, even if it's profitable since it leads to confusion and problems. It's a public company and receives money from the tax-paying public. I don't see a problem with private lines.

    In a not related note, the charediban are not just on the buses. A neighbor was in an RBS pharmacy waiting in line. A woman wearing pants paid for and received medicine. A charediban guy then berated the store owner for letting her buy medicine since she was not "appropriately attired." I suppose we should be grateful that he didn't call his friends on his kosher phone to come beat the woman.

    The Channel 2 piece was pretty fair and IMNSHO didn't go far enough. The Mayor--who was absent--from the demonstration has been complicit all along as he's lined his pockets with money from charediban askanim, had the protocol of building committee changed (i.e, the Heftziba project on Route 10) etc. Does anyone remember the advert in local paper where an askan wrote "I deny that I ever told the police that I gave Danny Vaknin bribes"?

  24. anon - the fact is they do have mehadrin bus lines. Do you mean they call those lines private instead of regular lines? maybe, that is a technical point as a way to get around the discriminatory issue. According to miriam Shear we will find out on December 12 whether the High Court considers it discriminatory and whether or not they can continue to operate such lines.

    can I ask which pharmacy it happened in? what was the store owners response?

  25. To Rafi G: To answer your question on how Egged buses are designated Mehadrin. An application must be made to Egged to have that particular line designated as Mehadrin. A bus does not become automatically Mehadrin just because a group of passengers says it is so. That was the point of contention in my incident. But even once Egged DOES designate a certain line as Mehadrin, it is STILL A VOLUNTARY ARRANGEMENT AMONGST EACH AND EVERY INDIVIUDAL PASSENGER. Such passengers may be politely informed that it is a designated Mehadrin bus; however, they may not be harrassed, coerced, or assaulted for refusing to VOLUNTARILY comply. That is Egged's agreement with the Chareidi community. Obviously, this agreement is not being honored - whether a bus is Mehadrin or not. The reasons the petition is being filed is because 1) Mehadrin buses are not always clearly identified as such
    2) Harrassment, coercion and violence is taking place on Mehadrin buses
    3) The old cliche of "give an inch take a mile" is at work here: Because there are SOME Mehadrin lines, certain people feel they can mutinize ANY bus and arbitrarily declare it Mehadrin.
    4) The fact that Egged and Dan take public taxpayer money for their operations raises serious civil liberty and discrimination issues
    5) There are no parallel non-Mehadrin lines with the Mehadrin lines. Egged has informed the court that they cannot (understandably) afford to run parallel non-Mehadrin lines.

    The above are all reasons why Egged and Dan should be prohibited by law from offering Mehadrin lines.

  26. Personaly I would say for reasons of both halacha and simple decency that if they're going to make a mehadrin bus, it should be by sticking the men in the back with a screen blocking them from seeing the front (and the ability to get on and off in the back) and the women in the front.

    but that said, mrs shear, why aren't more girls being encouraged to carry tazors or mace, and being taught that halacha gives them the clear right to defend themselves? (and boys who want to help them for that matter.) If the boys who tried to start up with the girls got hurt, then there would be much less problem I would think.

  27. To: Halfnutcase

    Personally, I was going to carry pepper spray but was advised not to for the simple reason that innocent people could get hurt by the use of it in such cramped,closed quarters, particularly children, elderly, asthmatics, etc. Tasers? I don't even know where to get them! But I like the idea, and as long as they are legal, why not? I think a can of hair spray or, perhaps more appropriately - bug spray. This way the impact can be contained to the guilty party(ies).


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