Shas Petitions Against Court Decision Forbidding Separate Seating

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The High Court building in Yerushalayim. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Shas on Monday filed a petition with the High Court against a ruling by the Nazareth District Court that prohibits separate seating at a musical event geared to the chareidi community. The decision, Shas says in its petition, is unfair and harms the rights of chareidi Jews to their preferred lifestyle.

The event in question is scheduled for Wednesday, set to take place in a community center in Afula. A coalition of feminist and reform groups sued the Afula municipality, demanding that center staff who will be seating guests not enforce the separate seating that sponsors of the event promised would take place.

In addition, they demanded that the show include women entertainers. The fact that the event is taking place in a public space is sufficient to require that rules on discrimination against women are enforced.

Shas in its petition said that the event was open to those who wished to attend, and those who did not wish to respect the separate seating clause were free not to attend. The event is meant for individuals who voluntarily and out of free will want to sit in gender-separated areas, and the fact that they are city residents makes them eligible to attend such events in city-sponsored public spaces. Previous High Court decisions, Shas says in its petition, confirm this right.

On Sunday, Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich slammed the lower court’s decision, saying that he expected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to speak out against this “nonsense, which is taking place fully on his watch. There is zero leadership here.” In response, Netanyahu said in a social media post that he was “not impressed by the ‘Twitter cabinet.’”