Jan 17, 2013

Ruth Kulian strikes again, this time against SHAS

When activism comes from the "people" it is far more interesting than when it comes from the politicians and activists who are mostly looking to promote themselves.

Ruth Kulian is a young married woman with a couple kids. She is haredi and she is sephardi. Kulian is an activist, and she calls herself a feminist and a social fighter.

I never heard of Ruth Kulian until she got involved in exposing the slaughterhouse offenses happening at Tnuva's Adom Adom and suing them for cruelty to animals and deceiving the public.

Kulian's latest endeavor is to expose the hypocrisy of SHAS. This is where the feminist aspect of her activism comes out. Kulian claims that SHAS takes advantage and recruits female volunteers to do the "dirty" work, while they will never promote their integration into leadership of the party. She points to the response of SHAS in the election board regarding the petition to disqualify the haredi parties for not including women in the party list. The response was that women have a different role, in haredi society. Kulian wants to show that the "different role" is what prevents women from joining party leadership, yet somehow it is put aside when it comes to doing dirty work such as campaigning for the party, knocking on doors, sticking stickers around town, hanging signs, etc.

To that effect, Kulian volunteered to work for the SHAS campaign. She used a fake name when she contacted the branch, and she was encouraged to take on a major role. She says, and she claims to have recorded all the conversations as proof, they first encouraged her to be among the volunteers who go door to door and try to get in for a talk with the homeowner, trying to convince them to support SHAS.

Kulian refused the task, and asked for a different task to take on. Kulian says that it was extremely inappropriate to offer her that job - going around door to door, sitting and talking with men in their homes, perhaps at times where they are the only ones there. So, she says, according to SHAS, a woman potentially being in the position of MK is not tzanua, but going door to door like that is an appropriate task for women?

She went ahead with her assigned task, posting signs, handed out pamphlets, sticking stickers, etc. She called Aryeh Deri to get his blessing on record. She told Deri about her activity, and he gave her a warm blessing with words of effusive praise. So, again, MK isnt appropriate, but doing all that dirty work is just fine.

Somehow Kulian has decided that instead of voting SHAS she will vote UTJ this time around. Considering her issues with SHAS, I do not know why she chose UTJ - they hold positions identical to those of SHAS on these issues. It is not like UTJ is a trailblazer in promoting the haredi woman's rights and equality. I am not sure what she is looking for, but it is interesting. I know some people who are associated with UTJ choose to vote SHAS because they are disenfranchised with UTJ. I know of some sephardim who vote UTJ because they receive a lot of benefit from UTJ - learning in Ashkenazi yeshivot, kids in UTJ affiliated schools, etc. I never heard of people naturally associated with SHAS, voting for UTJ out of frustration with SHAS. She says she knows UTJ is not better in regards to the position of women, but it is the lesser of the two evils, because UTJ would never have made a video like the SHAS conversion video.
(source: Ynet)

Activists who fight the system instead of promoting it are generally blacklisted, denigrated and intimidated. I wish Kulian best of luck in her work to change the system. These parties could do a lot of good work if they weren't overly tied up in the personal interests of their leaders. It can take an outsider, like Kulian, to effect the changes needed.

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  1. "Somehow Kulian has decided that instead of voting SHAS she will vote UTJ this time around. Considering her issues with SHAS, I do not know why she chose UTJ - they hold positions identical to those of SHAS on these issues."

    Perhaps she feels that they are consistent: they won't let women run for the knesset, but on the other hand they won't send them campaigning from door to door. Just a guess.

  2. A Sepharadi feminist?!
    Pass nisht!


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