Report: Jewish women banned from night shifts to avoid Arab 'contact'
Published Saturday 19/10/2013 (updated) 20/10/2013 22:16
Benzi Gopstein, a leader of Lehava, an Israeli organization that
supported the campaign to ban women from night shifts.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jewish women have been banned from working night shifts as a part of their national service at hospitals in Israel in order to avoid "contact with Arabs," Israeli Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.
Israeli National Service Administration Director Sar-Shalom Jerbi issued the directive two weeks ago banning any volunteer shifts past 9 p.m. for women fulfilling their national service duties.
The director explained that "we reached the decision based on concern for our volunteers, and Minister [Naftali] Bennett gave his blessing."
Naftali Bennett is the leader of the far-right Israeli political party "Jewish Home," and is currently the minister of religious services.
Many young Jewish women in Israel choose to volunteer at hospitals in order to fulfill their national service requirements. The national service is an alternative to service in the Israeli army, which is required for most Israeli Jews.
The decision marks a victory for an intense campaign led by religious Zionist rabbis and other right-wing groups within Israel to prevent contact of any sort between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, especially between Jewish women and Palestinian men.
According to the Channel 10 report, these groups began a campaign against women's night-time service last year after reports surfaced of "intimate relations" between some Jewish volunteers and Palestinian doctors at hospitals.
In response to the decision, the director of the Lehava organization which was involved in the campaign issued a statement lamenting that the move did not go far enough. "Unfortunately, this is too narrow and too late a step. National service should be terminated anywhere there are non-Jews," he said.
Lehava is an Israeli organization that campaigns to prevent relationships between Jewish women and non-Jewish men. The main targets of their campaigns tend to be Muslim and Christian Arabs.
Among the leaders of the campaign was Rabbi Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba settlements who was in 2011 arrested for incitement against Arabs.
Lior has previously made numerous controversial and racist statements towards non-Jews, and called Baruch Goldstein, the perpetrator of the 1994 Cave of Patriarchs massacre which claimed the lives of 29 Muslim worshipers, "holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust."