Dec 13, 2011

Woman Beheaded in Saudi Arabia. Where Is Hillary Clinton?

Everybody knows how concerned Hillary Clinton is about the state of the democracy of Israel. She is worried our democracy is on the verge of collapse, for a variety of reasons, in large part because of the fight over women's place in society..

Interestingly, the Secretary of State has not spoken out, or at least I have not noticed her saying anything about it, about the dear friends of the United States in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis just yesterday beheaded a woman after her being convicted of practicing sorcery. And, it just so happens to be that this was the 73rd such execution this year for similar crimes.

While Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, which to be honest should be even more of a concern to Hillary Clinton,   the treatment of women in that country should still be a cause of concern. Or is it ok in Hillary Clinton's eyes to behead a woman but not to remove their images from a few posters in Haredi neighborhoods or put them in the back of the bus?

At the same time, there is a nice Op-Ed today in the Jerusalem Post written by a woman who spent the last few weeks riding the 418 bus from Ramat Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem. The 418 is a bus line that is, officially or unofficially depending on whom you ask, designated as a mehadrin bus, meaning men sit in front and women in the back. This woman was testing the reactions of the regular passengers. She's get on the bus and sit in front. She wanted to see how common or uncommon the violent reactions really are.

She says that in the few weeks she spent riding the bus, there was not a single incident to cause concern. A few people mentioned things or muttered that she should be moving to the back, but when she made it clear she was sitting tight, they proceeded to ignore her.

In addition, the passengers of the 417 bus, a similar bus but not even unofficially mehadrin and also catering mostly to religious passengers, got some good press.
I’ve been freedom-riding the No. 418 “Mehadrin” bus between Ramat Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem for a few weeks, and here’s what’s been happening to me: nothing. I get on, pay my fare, sit down in the front of the bus, and then – that’s it.


I haven’t encountered one instance of physical violence, verbal threats or otherwise obnoxious harassment. There has been an occasional “Mehadrin!” muttered quietly by some men, but they gave up quickly when I ignored them. One man told me I was supposed to move to the back, as per the custom, but when I asked him if he could read the sign which states that riders can sit wherever they choose, he said, “I’m just telling you that this is the custom, you can do whatever you want.”


One bearded, black-coated man announced that women should move to the back, and when a secular-looking, jeans-wearing woman challenged him by asking if that was the law, he said, “No, but I am requesting that you do it.” We women stayed in our seats and didn’t hear another word from him or anyone else.


Once a man asked the bus driver to tell the women to move to the back, which I thought was a nice touch, as I don’t think it is modest for a man to begin a conversation with a random woman on a bus, even to discuss seating arrangements. For the record, the driver said in response: “I don’t know anything about this.”


On the 417, the non-segregated bus which essentially covers the same route as the 418, the passengers are almost all ultra-Orthodox. It is accepted practice that if two sets of seats are each half-occupied, with one man at each window seat, women riders will not sit down next to a man, but will instead politely ask one man to move next to the other man to free up seats for women (or vice-versa, with a male rider asking a female rider to move).


In almost all cases, when a man and woman are sitting next to each other, they appear to be married (although nobody asks to see their ketubah, or marriage contract). There are fewer screaming babies on the regular bus because families sit together and a man can hold his baby instead of forcing his wife to juggle an infant and a toddler.


Most of the men on the 417 study, work on their laptops or chat with the men sitting next to them during the ride. I have yet to see any inappropriateness borne of the mixed-sex environment. Everyone on the 417 bus has been exceedingly polite and modest. What behaviors are so offensive that a segregated bus is needed to save passengers from sin?
She concludes by telling Hillary Clinton to focus on women's rights in places like Saudi Arabia..

5 comments:

  1. I davka benefited from the voluntary separate seating today. When I got on the 417 this morning the driver said there were no seats left as there were people standing in the aisle. The guy ahead of me in the line promptly got back off. As I moved down the bus I saw that there was a space left next to a man and all the people standing were women. I promptly took the space (while squeezing un-tzius-like past the standing women and almost falling on them and pushing them into some seated men as the bus went around a corner).

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  2. So because another country is also doing evil, we shouldn't be criticized.

    Got it. sounds like my kids. Yeah dad, but so and so did something worse so whatever I did should be ignored.

    Ok

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  3. Shaya G-
    We shouldn't be criticized by hilary Clinton for our practices when our neighbors are beheading women for being raped and she doesn't say a word - yeah, criticize the worst first. If one of your kids just killed somebody, and you were busy criticizing the othe rone for not brushing his teeth, I think your kid should say, "Excuse me, but maybe your focus should be on my brother whose hands are dripping blood." Your kids don't like to be criticized if one didn't do his homework and you are yelling at him even though his brother got away with making a mess. That's a bit different. Plus she said she's worried about Israeli democracy - well the Supreme Court said these buses are illegal, while Saudi law is promoting government killing of women who are "sorcerers." If you can't tell the difference, go visit an Arab dictatorship.

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  4. anon,

    sorry, I disagree. Our problems directly lead to the next steps and beheadings are not far behind. we already have violence against shop owners and women, murder is not long away.

    as well, wrong is wrong. we are wrong and so are the saudis. her criticism is correct and you just don't want to hear it.

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  5. honestly- men who sit while women who may well be pregnant fly across the isles make me sick.

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