Standoff at Western Wall Over Praying by Women - NYTimes.com
JERUSALEM — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews tried to block a liberal women’s group from praying at the Western Wall on Friday morning, creating a tense standoff in the latest flash point of a broader battle over religion and identity that has engulfed Israel.
Israel feminists see a backsliding as ultra-Orthodox flex muscle - Los Angeles Times
Israel’s ranking in gender equality — based upon workplace discrimination, pay differentials and other factors — compared with other countries dropped from 36th place in 2007 to 55th in 2011, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index.
During a religious holiday last month, male residents of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood banned women from using the main streets to prevent mingling of the sexes, defying a Supreme Court order allowing women on the streets. Last year, the same neighborhood constructed a separate, covered sidewalk that women were forced to use, a measure also rejected by the court as discriminatory. [...]
The conflict is gaining intensity, he said, because of the rising influence and numbers of the haredi community, once a small, scattered minority that today numbers 1 million, about 15% of the population. The ultra-Orthodox live mostly in separate cities and neighborhoods where they have been free to practice their beliefs without interference. As their political power grows, they are demanding more accommodation for their way of life, Pappenheim said.