Tuesday, April 28, 2015

  • Tuesday, April 28, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Haaretz reports:
A rights group in Israel is calling on the country’s medical association to forbid doctors from taking part in a Jerusalem women’s health event scheduled for Tuesday that is closed to women participants.

The event is co-sponsored by one of Israel’s leading - and publicly funded - HMOs, Meuhedet, and the ultra-Orthodox medical institute Yad HaRamah. It is meant to focus on research and innovation in women's health, bringing together medical experts, rabbis, teachers, and experts in Jewish law for dialogue and discussion.

A spokesperson for the conference told the Ynet news website that not only were women absent from the roster of speakers and panelists at the event, but that they were barred from the audience as well.

Uri Regev, director-general of Hiddush, a nonprofit organization that promotes religious freedom and equality, declared that “the existence of this conference proves how crucial it is that the exclusion of women be declared a criminal act. The idea that the Meuhedet HMO and the Shaare Zedek hospital can hold an event in which exclusively male doctors and rabbis gather and discuss women’s medical issues without even one woman doctor is a surreal phenomenon that one hardly believes can exist in what claims to be a Western country.”

Charging the HMO with “sucking up” to the haredi public by agreeing to exclude women, Regev said that medical professionals should stay away from the gathering. The participation of senior doctors in such an event, he said, represents a “blatant violation” of a decision by the medical association’s ethics board forbidding discrimination against women and determined that “doctors will not participate in any medical or scientific event in which women are excluded.”
Jessica Montell, formerly of B'Tselem, gleefully tweeted an obscene comparison:


I do not agree that there is any justification for excluding women from this conference. I don't believe that there is even any halachic (Jewish legal) reason that justifies it. There is nothing wrong with publicizing the incongruity of a conference about women's health issues that excludes women.

But these "rights" organizations and activists like Montell are going much further than that. Hiddush is demanding that an Israeli HMO cut out health services to a portion of the population because they find their passionate religious beliefs to be objectionable.

This isn't a stamp collecting conference. It is a medical conference meant to help women, despite the non-attendance of women.  That is bad, but not as bad as the self-righteous "rights activists" who believe that the health of hundreds of thousands of haredi Jews is less important than their oh-so-moral stance.

Meuhedet's response was quite reasonable:
After the protest hit the headlines, Meuhedet issued a statement saying that the event was designed to serve its clientele in the Jerusalem area, which includes 250,000 ultra-Orthodox members and was part of its mission to serve all elements of the population and that “the conference was designed for the rabbis of Jerusalem neighborhoods with the goal of strengthening the connection with the communities rabbis and the HMO through open dialogue with doctors who practice gynecology. The goal of the conference is to encourage dialogue with tens of these neighborhood rabbis (with whom the hundreds of thousands of our clients consult) The nature of the event was designed to suit the target audience it is trying to serve.”
Meuhedet is serving its clients. Hiddush, and presumably Montell, don't give a damn about the health of those fanatic Jews.

If individual doctors don't want to speak at the conference, that's their right as well. But those who demand that others refuse to educate a major sector of Israeli society go way beyond this. They are just as intolerant as the conference organizers are.

And I cannot help but think that this intolerance would not ever extend to any religion besides Judaism. Has anyone, ever, called on the World Health Organization to cease all operations in Saudi Arabia because it segregates men and women in conferences the country demands that women cannot visit doctors unaccompanied by male guardians?

Intolerance may be intolerable, but so is intolerance in the name of fighting intolerance.



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