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  • Mitchell Israel

Curtains For Israel-a reaction

Shalom!

Last week, Naomi Chazan, an Israeli professor and former MK, published an op-ed discussing Israel’s obsession with curtains and barriers(http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/curtains-for-israel). I decided to explore this article for this week’s post, as it connects to IRAC’s issues. She began discussing a speech given by former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, which was given in front of a gender segregated audience. She also mentions a sheet covering a museum display on evolution, and of course, the curtains pulled away by PM Netanyahu in his presentation on Iran last week.

The Barak speech is the most visible use of separation, and represents the demands of Haredim that others bend to their will. Chazan explains that because his audience was Haredi, Professor Barak was following “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. The next image of barriers that Chazan discusses is the blocking of a museum exhibit on evolution, in order to attract religious audiences. This goes against what museums are designed to do, which are to present things the way they are, rather than cater to what people want to see. Chazan then ties these two forms of separation to the presentation given last week by PM Netanyahu, where he removed the curtains on Israel’s knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program.

Each of these examples of a curtain or barrier connects to the work that IRAC does. In the Barak speech, there is clear gender segregation in a public university. IRAC has fought against this on multiple occasions. The museum example is another example of pushing a religious agenda in a public space. Lastly, Netanyahu’s presentation and subsequent passage of emergency powers is a democratic issue, as it is ambiguous what is constituted as an “emergency”

Barriers and transparency link strongly to IRAC’s work. In their goals of fighting racism, gender discrimination, and for religious pluralism, IRAC advocates for as much transparency, and as few barriers between people as possible. Over the past few months, I have had the incredible experience of seeing barriers come down, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Until Next Time,

Mitchell

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