Too late: High Court bars gender-segregated concert, when it’s almost over
Ultra-Orthodox officials celebrate as hundreds attend segregated Motty Steinmetz performance in Afula; dozens briefly squabble with Tiberias mayor who tries to protest event
The High Court on Wednesday overturned a local court decision allowing a gender-segregated concert, but the ruling came too late to stop the event from going ahead amidst celebrations from ultra-Orthodox officials.
The High Court accepted the petition from the Women’s Network, which said it contravenes the principle of equality and ruled that Nazareth District Court Judge Atef Eilabouni had overstepped his authority.
As part of his ruling earlier Wednesday, Eilabouni recommended that the municipality agree to a compromise in which the amphitheater be split in three for the concert, with a woman’s section above a men’s section as well as a mixed-gender area.
However, shortly after the ruling was handed down, Afula mayor Avi Alkabetz announced that the concert would be held with full gender segregation.
But the High Court ruling came just as the concert was ending.
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox revelers came to hear pop-hassidic singer Motty Steinmetz.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri from the Shas party excitedly addressed the crowd before Steinmetz took the stage, declaring the court’s reversal a victory for ultra-Orthodox Israelis.
“Whoever tried to coerce their lifestyle onto others lost today. They tried to impose their ways on to people who bought concert tickets according to their beliefs and in accordance with Halacha,” he said, referring to Jewish law.
Deri went on to lambaste Blue and White MK Yair Lapid, who supported the initial decision to bar the concert from being gender-segregated.
In lauding the initial decision, Lapid declared “we’re not in Iran. This is the state of Israel.”
“You’re right. This is not Iran. This is is a Jewish state,” Deri retorted, accusing Lapid of “inciting against the ultra-Orthodox public.”
סערת ההפרדה בעפולה | ראש עיריית טבריה רון קובי הגיע להופעה של מוטי שטיינמץ ויצר מהומה. הוא הוצא מהמקום ע"י המשטרה@CBeyar pic.twitter.com/TQ2OK0oBC4
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 14, 2019
Shortly before the concert kicked off, Tiberias mayor Ron Kobi arrived in an apparent attempt to provoke concert goers. Kobi has clashed with Haredi residents of his town over calls to limit their presence and influence in Tiberias.
Upon spotting the mayor on the concert grounds, a handful of attendees began crowding around him as others booed. Police eventually arrived at the scene and ushered Kobi out of the site.
The concert was the only one of over 300 events put on by the city over the summer that had segregated seating as it was aimed at the local ultra-Orthodox population.
The ruling sparked widespread outcry from right-wing lawmakers, particularly Haredi ones, who claimed that the court was preventing ultra-Orthodox Israelis from maintaining religious modesty customs.