Why this forced get is a scandal

By Miriam Shaviv, July 25, 2008

So the Sephardi Bet Din has issued a religious divorce to a woman who never appeared in its court. Justifying his decision, Dayan Amor wrote, according to the JC's translation, that she "dressed provocatively in public, worse than a common harlot" and "danced in nightclubs late into the night".

The bet din has explained to the JC that it used these allegations against the wife in order to force a divorce, thus preventing her from becoming an agunah. A noble motivation, if true; but one has to wonder why batei din all over the world do not regularly issue such a get to women entering divorce proceedings if the urgency is so great.It seems to me, rather, that this is a despicable ruling. The dayanim were prepared to force a divorce on a woman against her will; treated insinuations as fact; and showed complete contempt for modern women. The London Beth Din has questioned whether the case was even in the Sephardi jurisdiction.

But even if all this meant nothing to the rabbinical judges, at the very least an instinct of self-preservation should have prevailed. This is a politically sensitive time for our batei din. Every time the possibility of sharia law being introduced in the UK is raised (this month, by the Lord Chief Justice), the day gets closer when our right to run Jewish courts will be questioned. So far, politicians have distinguished between sharia courts and halachic ones because ours are perceived to be fair to women and compatible with modern values.

This ruling, which shows otherwise, is not only a gross injustice, but endangers the entire system for those of us who believe in it. The Sephardi Bet Din owes the entire community an explanation.

Abbas hypocrisy

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent his personal greetings to the family of the child-murderer Samir Kuntar, and his party, Fatah, organised a rally to celebrate this heinous terrorist's freedom.

I wonder why Mr Abbas did not bother repeating these sentiments to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who visited him in Ramallah this week - or are words applauding terrorists only meant for the consumption of the Arab world?

Come to think of it, why didn't Mr Obama bring up the subject himself? Apparently it is still easier to pretend - as it was during Oslo - that Arab leaders "have to say things they don't believe in, to pacify their extremists" - and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Flight chumras

The Rabbinical Transportation Committee strikes again. Two weeks ago, I reported that it was advising Charedi girls to sit at the back of the bus. Now it is calling on travellers to choose movie-free flights. If they cannot avoid flights which show movies on a central screen, "they should take along a folding mechitzah".

Great advice. I, for one, would love to be on a flight in which a passenger attempts to set up a physical barrier blocking the view of the screen. The resulting commotion would probably be more amusing than the usually lousy in-flight entertainment.

Defining ‘terror'

So was it a terror attack or not? After the first bulldozer rampage in Jerusalem on July 2, some argued that a man unaffiliated with any terror organisation, apparently acting without premeditation, was not necessarily motivated by a political agenda. As of press time, little was known about the perpetrator of Tuesday's copy-cat attack, but no terror group took responsibility. Perhaps he too just suddenly went crazy?

The question, for me, is why these men chose the Jewish side of town in
order to exorcise their demons (if any such exist). Would they have carried out the same attack on an Arab population, had the opportunity arisen? If the answer is no, there is a nationalistic dimension to their actions, and they are terrorists, pure and simple.

Last updated: 11:08am, July 25 2008