Thursday, June 17, 2010

Even Jews don't like Jews

A group of ultra-Orthodox Israeli parents of European origin are facing jail for refusing to obey a court ruling ordering them to let their daughters study with Jewish girls of Middle Eastern descent. Israel's supreme court has threatened the parents with jail in a move likened by one Israeli newspaper to America's use of troops to enforce desegregation in the 1950s. The case involves around 40 couples who belong to the strictly-observant Slonim Hassidic sect of Ashkenazi Jewry, whose roots are in eastern and central Europe. The parents, who live in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel, are refusing to let their daughters study at the Beit Yaakov girls' school alongside girls of Sephardi origin, those who originate from North Africa or Asia. When Israel's supreme court ruled in August 2009 that Sephardi girls must be allowed to attend the same classes as the Ashkenazis, parents of 74 children took them out and set up ad hoc lessons elsewhere in the settlement. Aliza Lagon, mother of two girls, told army radio she and her husband would both go to jail, leaving their daughters and two younger children in the care of a friend. Ultra-Orthodox supporters of the defiant families vowed to hold a mass demonstration in Jerusalem and to accompany the errant parents to a local police station from where they would be taken to jail. Deputy education minister Meir Porush, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi party United Torah Judaism (UTJ), is due to meet President Shimon Peres to ask for a presidential pardon for the parents. The Slonim parents say their objections are not racist but based on differences in religious observance between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions.

No comments: