Yoav Laloum, who petitioned the High Court of Justice against segregation at an ultra-Orthodox girls school in the West Bank town of Immanuel, is guilty of "raising his hand against the Torah of Moses," a Jerusalem rabbinical court ruled yesterday.
The private Haredi court, known as the Badatz, is arbitrating a suit against Laloum filed by some of the Ashkenazi parents who object to having their daughters study in the same class as Sephardi girls whom they deem less religious. Several of the fathers are now in jail for contempt of court due to their refusal to obey the High Court's order to integrate the school.
The Badatz said Laloum had erred both by disobeying its order to withdraw his contempt-of-court petition to the High Court, despite having promised to do so, and by "utterly and evilly distorting" the Badatz's views by telling reporters that the rabbinical court favored integrating the Beit Yaakov school next year. As a result, the Badatz canceled yesterday's planned arbitration hearing.
Laloum argued in his defense that he did not withdraw the High Court petition because the plaintiffs had broken their promise to him to sign the arbitration consent form. However, the Badatz rejected this argument.
MKs from the Sephardi Haredi party Shas met at the Knesset yesterday to discuss the Immanuel case. Party chairman Eli Yishai rejected criticism that Shas had been shamefully uninvolved, saying the party's Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani network set up its own school in Immanuel last year so that Sephardi girls would have an option other than the Ashkenazi Beit Yaakov.
"The solution to discrimination is to open more and more schools," he said. "That's why Shas was established."
Today, the High Court is due to decide whether the Ashkenazi mothers must join their husbands in jail. The original contempt order included them in the sentence, but they asked that their arrest warrants be canceled. The state is backing their request, out of concern for their children's welfare.
Tomer Zarchin contributed to this article.
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