Friday, April 09, 2010

Rebellion On Jerusalem Bus No. 74

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Shemini 5770

The 74 is one of those “tricky,” Jerusalem buses, one which starts in a religious neighborhood, and then makes its way into nonreligious parts of the city.

Yesterday, I got on the 74, and sat at the back of the bus. When arriving at the Shuq, a woman approached me, wanting to sit down next to me. I either had to scoot over or let her through to the seat next to the window. Actually, there was another option. There were several seats available on the bus. Why did she davqa have to sit next to me? Usually, my simanim (side locks) and big black kippah, albeit crocheted, are enough to “scare away” such women, but not this time.

When this woman asked me if she could sit down, I asked her, in a very nice voice, why she couldn't sit down in the available seat directly across the aisle (next to a woman). She was in shock, and muttered something I could not hear.

I then said, “I didn't say 'no.' I simply asked a question. If you want to sit here, I would be happy to get up for you.”

“You don't have to get up!”

“Yes,...I would.”

(Funny how it's OK for her to decide where she can sit on the bus, yet I am not allowed to decide where not to sit!)

When we arrive at the next stop, one of the few seats available was next to me. I had already prepared myself to get up. I was getting off in a couple more stops, and it would be easier for me to be closer to the exit anyway.

An apparently religious woman approached me. I got up, and asked her to let me pass, so that she could sit down. It was a bit awkward, but we would take the few extra seconds necessary to negotiate the aisle. No big deal.

Then, out of the blue, a college age, Russian woman starts yelling at me, “Is that reasonable what you're asking her to do?!”

She was right next to me, so I motioned the palm of my hand toward her face (yes, I admit, that was rude and wrong of me to do), and told her not to mix in (an expression I learned from you, New Yorkers, one which is identical to the expression used in Hebrew).

Then, as I continued to pass toward the door, I received I smack in the back of the head. I turned around, and was in shock. It was from that same woman, who had started in on me.

For a moment, time seemed to freeze, and all eyes seemed to be upon us, waiting to see what would happen. Would the “evil, religious man, causing problems on the bus, and single-handedly threatening democracy,” actually hit her back? I honestly don't know how many people were actually paying attention. I also don't know how many of you reading this are waiting with baited breath to find out what happened. But, no, I did not hit her back.

As I began to move again toward the door of the bus, the first words out of my mouth were...

די לאלימות

“Stop The Violence,” an expression popularized by the Israel media campain against domestic violence.

Then a sense of peace fell over me, as I continued my way toward the exit, and began my diatribe, in a very calm and clear voice:

“Why is it that you can do such a thing? I could never do such a thing. Because you're female. That is a double standard.”

(No doubt, I would have gotten arrested, even if I had responded in self-defense.)

“Don't we have equality in this 'Holy State?' Don't we live in a democracy?...

“Why don't you think about that?...”

No response. What could she say? With that, I got off the bus.

Setting any judgments aside regarding my behavior,...which was far from perfect, my statements at the closing of the incident were right. Provoked or not, no one, man or woman, deserves to be hit. Yet, Western society still condones, if not supports, this double standard between men and women....

Men are animals, so women are entitled to be aggressive in overcompensation for the aggression they have incurred from men over thousands of years, AND we won't call women's aggression, “aggression.” We'll call it “assertiveness,” or “pre-emptive self-defense.”

The fact that Western culture and sensibilities have been allowed to dominate Israeli society is a discussion for another time. (Thank you very much, Ashkenazim and co-dependent Sefardim!)

I only mention the nations of origin of some of the players for a reason. Most of those coming to reside from the former Soviet Union now are goyim, up to 70 percent, and contribute to the perpetuation of foreign influences within the so-called Jewish State. This only complicates the already confused, national identity of the so-called, Jewish state.

I have written this in order to provide a perspective, different from the perspectives you will find not only in the leftist-controled, “mainstream,” Israeli media, but also in the anti-Haredi & Settler, Jerusalem Post and in the naive and “neutral on this issue” Arutz 7.

Still, most American Jews who read this piece will either think that I am nuts, or will have absolutely no clue as to what I am talking about.

So, there you have it, the spiritual state of the Jewish People,...still in galuth (exile).

This afternoon I rode on another of those “tricky” buses, the 60. This time I didn't have a seat until the central bus station. Why? Religious women were scattered all around the bus, and none of them thought to get up and move.

If the situation had been reversed, and men were scattered about the bus, taking away seats from women uncomfortable sitting next to a man, it were have been perfectly acceptable for her to ask one of the men to move.

Not for me, though. I'm a man.


Lisa said...

Yaaqov, as rude and wrong as those women may have acted, there's no reason you can't sit next to a woman on the bus. R' Moshe Feinstein (not exactly a meikil) was asked about this regarding riding subways in NYC, and he said that since there's clearly no "derekh hibbah" involved, there's no problem.

Esser Agaroth said...

Lisa, I am particularly glad that you commented, because was just thinking to myself, "What would Lisa say?"

You are right, of course, yet 1. whoever said anything about heter we'issur? and 2. if the guv'mint sin't gonna do nuthin' about education and sending a message, then someone's got to.

Devorah Chayah said...

I don't sit next to men by choice and I try to get another woman to sit beside me before a man decides to do so. If a man comes along and wants to sit, I ask to be allowed to get out first. One time a young man without kippa sat next to me suddenly and I asked to be allwoed to exit. He said "bevakasha" but I couldn't get out without literally climbing over him which was completely not tznuah. I asked him if he was Jewish or Arab and this set him off, why would I think he was arab and what difference would it make if he were? I started by saying he wore no kippa, but I didn't get any further with my explanation. He went off about how wearing a kppa didn't make a good person, etc. My point, had I been allowed to make it was just this: If he were a non-Jew, I would understand his failure to treat his elders with the proper respect and since he exhibited none towards me, that plus the lack of kippa indicated to me a non-Jew. I had to appeal to the driver for help to get the young man to comply with my reqiuest to get out of the seat without climbing over him. He finally got up and stood aside but he never shut up the whole time. I was embarrassed and humiliated and all because I am more comfortable not being crammed into a bus seat stuck shoulders to knees up against the opposite sex.

I've asked men to step aside and let me pass so I wouldn't have to brush against them on my way through, but they always want to argue that there is enough room. Riding the buses is a nightmare! Instead of women at the rear of buses, women should have their OWN buses like in Japan!

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