Feb 22, 2009

Separate Stoning

A few people, between Thursday and Shabbos, have asked me what I thought about the mehadrin bus situation in Jerusalem that led to a protest in Meah She'arim and a bus stoning.

Some background: Egged has the sole license for bus routes in Jerusalem, along with most of Israel, giving them virtually a monopoly. The haredim want a certain line to the kotel to be run according to their guidelines for a mehadrin line - men in front, women in back, and some way to arrange payment, or at least bus card clickers, in the back for the women. Egged refused, so the haredi groups involved started their own line.

They started a free line to the kotel, hoping this would avoid their need to get a license. The financial backing for this is strange, as they have collected donations of $100 (per month?) from each of 1000 newly married young couples. Don't forget - these are people living on welfare and minimal kollel stipends. People are going door to door collecting for newlyweds in these communities because they have no money to live on. Yet they have money to donate so other people can ride the bus for free. But if that is what they want to spend their money on, I guess they have that right.

Egged protested to the Transportation Ministry who immediately forced the free line to stop running. The people did not like that - either provide us with our needs, or let us provide them for ourselves. They staged a protest rally in Meah She'arim that turned violent when an Egged bus showed up driving its route. They started stoning it, causing some damage, yada yada yada.

My feeling is that Egged should be considerate of its customers. If they have a community that wants, and considers it a need, mehadrin buses, they should provide it for that community. As long as they also provide regular buses for people who don't want the special line. They obviously don't have to, but good business would suggest that they should.

In the meantime, regardless of Egged's customer service, creating an alternate bus company is illegal. So like it or not, nobody can do it. While it can't hurt to try, Egged successfully got it canceled.

The thing is, whether or not Egged is right for not creating a new mehadrin line (whose legal status is still questionable at this point), whether or not they are wrong for not heeding the requests/demands of a community under their service provision, that does not justify violence. You want a new bus line, go ahead and try to convince Egged of the need, the financial viability, whatever. Work with them, persuade them etc. Throwing rocks at people and buses is not an acceptable method.

Aside from physical damage to buses that is going to cost somebody money to fix (who gave anybody a hetter to damage Egged property?), when rocks are thrown people can also get hurt. No desire, or justification, for a mehadrin line can justify that.


  1. But rock throwing and burning dumpsters always worked so well for the Meah Shearim crowd in the past.

  2. but good business would suggest that they should

    Ahhh, but you're forgetting that there is no competition, since they have been given a monopoly, so the justification to spend the extra money to set up special arrangements on an existing line (i.e., they will earn more money from the improved service) is out the window when you have a public beholden to you.

  3. that might be why they are not doing it. but good business, even if you hold a monopoly, would say you want to do what you can to keep your clientele happy.
    especially nowadays when more and more cities are opening their lines to the competition.

  4. Parasites have no say


  5. Pesky - exactly, it indeed has. It's the ONLY thing that has. No one pays attention, no representation, until they make an annoyance of themselves.

    Mdb (who's comment will probably be deleted) - You make assumptions that don't hold water. Lots of people paying taxes in Meah Shearim, working, generating economic activity with VAT at 15.5%. Don't believe everything you read from the left wing media.

  6. Another piece of information in Egged's defense. According to Naomi Regan,

    Well, we haven't had a court decision yet--that's due in a few
    months-- but as a result of our lawsuit, Egged can no longer designate any new lines as "mehadrin" until there is a court decision.

    Clearly Egged does not have a monopoly as we've seen here in Beit Shemesh. Let someone create a legitimate bus company to bid against Egged and acquire the desired routes. I'm not saying it's easy, but we've seen that it can be done.

  7. Rafi, I have to disagree with you that Egged should do it based on taking into account it's customers.

    You even mentioned the other day that you saw plenty of people coming on the back of the bus and just not paying.

    It would seem that it is more of a bad business decision to go ahead with those lines.

  8. maybe I worded it wrong. In general I am against mehadrin buses. I think this is a made-up "chumra" (it is not a chumra at all, as it is completely fictitious).
    But if they want to be on good terms with a certain portion of their clientele, it is something they should consider opening. That is what I meant.

    Perhaps there are better reasons for them to say no.
    So either they said no because they outright rejected it, or they said no because they know from past experience that it is a losing venture,

  9. Akiva,

    Oh really? Where are they working?


  10. The line in question is the 2 line, which Egged claims serves the needs of the general populace of Jerusalem, and thus refuses to separate it.

  11. akiva, so the ends justify the means?

    from a religion that has commanded and continue to commands you to murder children, I guess thats not surprising.

  12. In Ontario a website was set up where people could look for rides. At some point people started charging money. I am not sure if it was just to cover gas. The bus companies are suing because they have to meet all kinds of saftey regulations to offer the same service. The 'competition' had an unfair advantage.

    If they want operate their own bus line, then good for them. However they should not be exempt from all of the rules that everyone else has to follow.

    I am not sure their business model is more financially feasible when you can put 4 guys in a cab for 40NIS. If you really have the desire it is also walkable.

    Once you throw stones or cause harm to others I no longer have sympathy for you or your cause. I wonder how many people enjoyed not having any bus service after the incident.

  13. Mb D - plenty of haredim work, but plenty don't.

  14. mbd,

    I am as left wing secular atheist as you can get, and I can say that in agreement with rafi g, plenty of charedim work, plenty dont. in israel a higher percentage of chareedim don't work than the general public. In america that is reverse, charedim have a higher rate of employment than the general average.

    I don't care if someone works or not. That is their biz. I care about how they treat me and mine. I don't want me or my wife or kids to have rocks thrown at us or threatened. I have never been threatened by an arab in israel, or a chiloni...only by charedim. And I am a easy going usually respectful atheist (at least in person).

  15. that's cool.

    i am a centrist orthodox Jew. I dont give a crap how anyone dresses or what they do behind closed doors as long as they don't cost me money in the form of higher taxes. Believe me, I also can't stand the hippees holding hands singing coombaaya in tel aviv.

    But I just have problems with the heredim that they hate the state and dont believe in the state, yet theyre allowed to steal my money. PISDATZ! Until they get their act together, I'd rather be with the chilonim flaming leftists like yourself, than them.

    And there are plenty of heredim in the US Milking the system under the HUD Act. So it's getting worse in America.

  16. you can be chiloni for any reason, or hang with us...but there are far healthier reasons to not be (or hang with) charedi than just the way certain individuals milk the system.

    better reasons:

    they are ok with genocide so long as they are the ones doing the killing in their gods name.

    They view rape (and women in general) as crimes against property.

    They believe that whatever the rabbis say and said is absolute truth and must be obeyed regardless of what new information comes along, be it scientific info or anthropological or historical etc.

    How can you take anyone's word as truth and completely right ever? But to take the word of people who by and large ignore and are not taught their own history and little else of the world?

    And while these are generalizations I can say that they are healthier reasons to dismiss the charediim than just because some of them are scammers. I don't think they are all bad, just that they don't know what judaism is? the legacy of the polish shtetl is far more christian than jewish.

  17. i for one would hate a segregated bus where the women have to sit in the back of the bus. im sure if there arent enough seats for the men they will take over the women's section and then the women wont be able to sit at all.
    this bus sounds worse than the monsey /new square bus in new york. at least the mechitzah is down the middle of the bus.

  18. Is this bus service for the same people who are perfectly happy to pile onto the bus in a big bundle all elbows flying and a chance for a quick grope (or so i've been told)?
    Perhaps they could restrain themselves, and show some orderly behaviour when getting on the buses, then people would take their requests for segregation a little more seriously.
    They have to take some personal responsibility, not just demand that everything is given to them.
    Imagine what a kiddush Hashem it would be if people saw an orderly line of people waiting for the bus, and when it arrived the men would hang back and let the ladies (with all the baggage, babies and strollers) on first. I'd call that kosher.

  19. Anything in excess is never a good thing - yes, sadly, even in yiddishkeit

    Gotta combine the Gashmius with the Ruchnius in a healthy stable way. This is Olam haze, not Olam Haba.

    Rav Steinsaltz might be the most balanced Rabbi in this generation. Maybe R'Lichtenstein (the one from Gush Etzion) as well. Rav Steinman is up there as well.


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