The Rackman Center’s Founding Academic Director, Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, has appeared in many international news outlets covering the expected impact on women’s rights resulting from Israel’s new government’s proposed policies to overhaul the judicial system and to expand the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts. Links to examples of these articles can be found here: Newsweek, WorldTimeTodays and a video on Yahoo!News.
As Prof. Halperin-Kaddari explains, the proposed policies will harm women’s rights. The legal reform bill aims to weaken the High Court of Justice, which has been the primary defender of women’s rights in the past. Further, the bill proposes reducing the number of seats reserved for women on the judicial selection committees.
Expanding the jurisdiction of the religious courts is also problematic, even when it is ostensibly based on the parties’ consent. This is because the religious courts exclude women from its ranks, and halacha [Jewish law], as it is currently applied in divorce in the religious courts, is often patriarchal in nature and discriminatory towards women.
These proposed policies are only two examples of the threats facing women under Israel’s new government. Others include proposed legislation to legalize gender segregation on religious grounds in public places and proposed legislation to make it legal to refuse service to others, including women, on the basis of religious beliefs.