Israel’s new Environmental Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), of “criminal kiruv” fame, announced on Sunday that she opposes the initiative of the Nature and Parks Authority to delineate separate swimming hours for men and women at water sources at nature reserves.
Zandberg’s announcement was made in reaction to a letter sent by the Nature and Parks Authority to the Justice Ministry last month, in which it stated its intention to advance legislation for gender segregation at nature sites with water sources.
“Gender segregation is a form of exclusion and is a fundamental violation of equality,” Zandberg stated. “The US Supreme Court already ruled in the 1950s that ‘separation is not equality’ [a ruling in reference to racial segregation in US public schools]…On the background of increasing segregation in Israel in recent years on public transportation, higher education, and events, there is no room to further expand segregation in public spaces.”
“Following the determination of the Attorney General that there is no authority for segregation, I will oppose any legislation on the subject and the covering up of segregation in the public sphere.”
Shai Glick, CEO of the right-wing human rights organization B’Tzalmo, said in response to Zandberg’s announcement: “The Environmental Minister, who is proud of her support of human rights, is suddenly violating the rights of Chareidim and Arabs.”
“We’ll act to change the decision. We’ll just mention that it’s all talk because the authority [for the decision] is only in the hands of the Attorney General and the Nature and Parks Authority. The Nature and Parks Authority already supports it [gender separation at water sources at nature sites], and we believe and know that the Attorney General also supports it under certain conditions.”
“We’ll mention again that the initiative won’t harm anyone because at the same time that springs will be segregated, other springs at the same site won’t be segregated. That way, no one’s rights will be violated and everyone will have the right to enjoy natural resources.”
Religious Zionist Party chairman Betzalel Smotrich responded: “Equality according to the Bennett administration equals discrimination against religious people and Chareidim. And this is unfortunately only the beginning.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)