A massive rally in planned for tonight in Beit Shemesh, a small town in Israel right outside of Jerusalem, to protest gender segregation in Israel. Beit Shemesh has been the scene of a major religious conflict over the last few months pitting the city's ultra-orthodox population against the rest of the city (and at this point the rest of the country).
The issue is not so simple in the Jewish State. The extremist elements within the ultra-orthodox community are not just making life miserable for the secular and modern orthodox majority in Israel, but for the majority of the country's ultra orthodox population as well. Haaretz, Israel's leading English language daily reports today that the issue of gender segregation and extremist elements among the ultra orthodox are causing embarrassment and other issues among the majority of Israel's ultra-orthodox community.
Haaretz reports Aryeh Goldhaber, an activist who represents moderate ultra-orthodox Jews on the Beit Shemesh city council said "This is the time to create a barrier between us and the extremists. People, even among the secular population, are beginning to realize that those who are going wild in Beit Shemesh are a crazy extremist group spreading fear through the streets, beating people, vandalizing, using violence. The public is afraid of them, the rabbis are afraid of them. This has to stop."
Israel Gender Segregation is an issue facing the entire population, and has been moving out of the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods. Special bus lines where women are asked to move to the back of the bus so men can sit in the front, the exclusion of women from picture advertising in Jerusalem to avoid ultra-orthodox graffiti, gender segregated sidewalks in some neighborhoods and of course the cursing and spitting at school girls who are not dressed moderately enough for the extremists are just a few issues facing the country.
Tonight it is time for the rest of the country to fight back. Tens of thousands are expected to attend a rally against the extremists in Beit Shemesh. Israeli President Shimon Peres in urging the entire population to show up in support.
"Today is a test for the nation, not just for the police. All of us, religious, secular, traditional ... must as one man defend the character of the state of Israel against a minority which breaks our national solidarity"
How do you feel about Israel Gender Segregation? Would you feel comfortable if a woman was asked to give up her seat on a bus for a man?
Watch Israeli police clash with Ultra-Orthodox Jews over Israel Gender Segregation,