(JERUSALEM) — An Israeli woman who started a firestorm by refusing to sit behind men at the back of a public bus says she is now getting death threats.
Tanya Rosenblit told a government committee on Wednesday that she is being threatened by phone and online and has filed a complaint with the police. Last month, Rosenblit boarded a bus in the southern city of Ashdod to go to Jerusalem for an appointment.
It was a bus normally used by ultra-Orthodox Jews – known as ‘Haredi’ in Israel – who voluntarily segregate themselves on public buses. After Rosenblit took her seat behind the driver, a Haredi man soon got on who refused to sit behind Rosenblit.
“He looked at me with despise,” Rosenblit wrote on Facebook. “I heard him call me ‘Shikse,’ which means “whore” in Yiddish.” The police were called to resolve the situation. An officer asked Rosenblit if she would respect Haredi customs and move back but Rosenblit refused.
Comparisons were immediately made with the American civil rights movement and Rosenblit was nicknamed the Rosa Parks of Israel. Senior Israeli officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down have condemned the incident.
Committee member Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said Wednesday, “We cannot allow a situation whereby people ask women to sit at the back of the bus.” The incident is one of several recently that have started a fierce debate over the secular vs. religious nature of the Jewish state.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Alanna Petroff, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN