Now most Israelis support gender segregation in public
In recent weeks I have written extensively about the simmering conflict between ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) and secular Israelis over the segregation of the sexes in Haredi neighborhoods. The standoff turned violent in late December, and some Haredi activists reacted to pressure from secular demonstrators and unfavorable press reports by dressing in striped concentration camp uniforms and pinning yellow Stars of David to their chests.
The iconic symbol of this division, which includes separate sidewalks and bans on women’s singing, are so-called kosher buses, which force women to sit in the back so as to avoid all contact with men. (This segregation affects all women passing through Haredi areas, regardless of their religious beliefs and affiliations, if any.) Now a new Ynet-Gesher survey reveals that the Haredi demands are much more acceptable to ordinary citizens than many people in Israel and abroad ever imagined.
Participants were asked: “Are ‘kosher’ bus lines for Haredim legitimate?” 51% agreed. On closer look, 18% responded that they would be legitimate throughout Israel, no strings attached. 26% said they should be permitted only in Haredi neighborhoods, while 7% said the separation of the sexes should only be permitted “if the women agree to sit in the back.” These figures are remarkable, since only around 10% of Israelis describe themselves as Haredim.
Only a minority take a dissenting view: 47% of Israelis regard the separation as illegal discrimination and 2% had no opinion.
Religion had a strong influence on responses. 57% of secular Jews ruled out segregated buses altogether. So did 41% of traditional Jews. Not surprising, 83% of Haredim supported segregation without any reservations.
It’s even less surprising to learn that Israeli men take a more tolerant view towards intolerance than women do: In the survey, 56% of men accepted bus segregation based on gender as legitimate in principle, whereas 52% of women rejected it out of hand.
The representative survey, conducted by the Panels Institute for the Ynet news portal, surveyed 505 respondents via Internet. The maximal sampling error is 4.4%
I'd put the minimum danger of this trend to Israeli society at 100%.