Israel Funding Jerusalem Events That Keep Women Out

Use of government funding for a non-religious, gender-segregated event apparently violates directives issued by attorney general ■ Two men-only concerts, one women-only concert and one family event with separated seating scheduled

A men-only concert at Jerusalem's International Convention Center on September 25, 2018.
Emil Salman

Government funding is being used for male-only or gender-segregated Sukkot concerts in Jerusalem this week, in an apparent violation of directives issued by the attorney general.

The performances are sponsored by the city and the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry.

Two men-only concerts were scheduled for this week at the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’uma). One of them, billed as “a show with the greatest Moroccan singers and the Andalusian Orchestra,” took place Tuesday evening. Shas Chairman and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Arye Dery attended.

A women-only concert called “The songs that we loved” is to feature performances by female singers.

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Yet another event, “Hakafot of light,” an event meant for families — but with separation between men and women — were also part of the events for the week.

The ministry is subsidizing the concerts, allowing for tickets costing just 10 shekels each ($3.80).

In 2013, then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein issued directives that gender segregation be permitted only at religious events at which “the authority believes the vast majority of the audience would want gender segregation.”

The event in Jerusalem is intended for an ultra-Orthodox population but is not a religious event, rather a celebration of the Sukkot festival.

Furthermore, and against instructions, men are getting preferential treatment since only one event is being held exclusively for women and two are being held for men.

Last week Haaretz reported that the Justice Ministry had barred Netivot from holding a men-only concert, leading the southern Israeli town to allow women to attend.

In a letter to the Netivot municipality Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilberwrote that holding the event exclusively for men hurts “the rights of women and women residents of the city in particular to equality and respect, if they are excluded from a general public event.”

The Jerusalem municipality said in response: "The municipality produces dozes of events for all sectors, such as the Jerusalem Parade as well as events for the Orthodox community.  The concerts discussed here are held in an equal fashion while making sure sensitivity towards different audiences' needs is maintained."