It’s election day in Israel and the courts on Friday had to order several Haredi newspapers to accept campaign print ads from a party that fields female candidates. Of course, now it’s too late because the newspapers are appealing that ruling.
The Lod District Court has ordered Yated Ne’eman, the highest-circulating haredi daily newspaper, to publish an election campaign advertisement from U’bezchutan, a party seeking the haredi women’s vote.
The decision was made on Friday, but the newspaper has appealed, casting into doubt whether or not it will be forced to print the ad before election day on Tuesday. An appeal hearing has yet to be scheduled.
U’bezchutan, led by Ruth Colian, has objected to the lack of any women on any of the electoral lists of the haredi parties – Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yahad – saying the needs and concerns of haredi women are not being addressed by the male MKs in the different ultra-Orthodox parties.
Colian, therefore, has called on haredi women to vote for her party so they can receive appropriate political representation and, as part of her campaign, has sought to place election ads in various haredi newspapers and media outlets, including Yated Ne’eman, the mouthpiece of Degel Hatorah and Yom L’Yom, Shas’s paper.
However, U’bezchutan’s ads have been rejected by several haredi media outlets, including Yated Ne’eman, leading the party to sue the newspaper with the help of the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women and the Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ) advocacy and lobbying groups.
“We are talking about a notice of a public nature specifically for women from the haredi sector, and which has not insignificant public importance, which is perhaps even enhanced due to the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of equality in elections,” said Judge Yaakov Shefser who presided over the case.
The judge rejected the argument of Yated’s defense team that such advertisements would offend the feelings of the paper’s readers, and said the refusal of Yated to publish U’bezchutan’s ads constituted “severe and irrevocable damage to the plaintiff, impeding her right to gain awareness among her target electorate and her right to equality, and possibly even her ability to be elected to Knesset.”
That the mere appearance of an ad for a female candidate would offend readers of a Haredi newspaper speaks volumes, don’t you think? It also underscores the need for more female candidates to run for office, regardless of their political party.