Court rules against haredi feminist in lawsuit

Judge rules that haredi newspapers did not discriminate against haredi wannabe MK when they refused to run her ads.

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Tzvi Lev,

Court (illustrative)
Court (illustrative)

The Petach Tikva Mastrigate's Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by a haredi feminist who contended that the refusal of the mainstream haredi newspapers to run her ads amounted to gender discrimination.

In 2015, the all-female "Ubezchutan" haredi party ran in the elections for Knesset. Ubezchutan was headed by Ruth Colian, who said that she founded the party to represent haredi women, who, she alleged, were "a group that doesn't have a political voice".

Ubezchutan's platform pledged to combat the wage discrimination, domestic violence and health problems suffered by many haredi women, in her view. The haredi community, which makek up about 10% of Israel's population, are a powerful political force in the Jewish state but do not accept women candidates in their parties based on Jewish legal rulings by haredi rabbis.

When Colian attempted to run ads for her party in the mainstream haredi Yated Ne'eman and Yom L'Yom newspapers, she found that no haredi publication would agree to sell her ads. Colian sued, alleging that their refusal to run her advertising amounted to gender discrimination and demanded NIS 50,000 in damages.

However, Judge Sarit Rothkkopt dismissed the suit, ruling that the haredi newspapers had not refused to run Colian's ads because she was a woman, but because she had run on a platform that countered the ideology of the newspaper. Rothkopt also denied that Colian had standing to sue on behalf of the entire party list when Colian was the sole plaintiff.

In a press conference, Colian called the ruling "bizarre" and "a slap in the face against democracy. In my humble opinion, a ruling that a newspaper with a specific editorial line is permitted to prevent ads from a party that does not conform to its positions is a slap in the face of democracy and in effect produces a reality in which the owner of a newspaper controls public opinion".