Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Number One Enemy

It's wonderful that they have nothing more troubling to deal with, but this seems to be pushing it a bit:
The leaders of the Haredi Community, a prominent anti-Zionist stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, have called on their public to donate money for the establishment of an alternative, kosher bus service to the Western Wall.

The community is outraged by the Egged bus company's refusal to introduce a service that institutes separation between men and women.

A notice published in the congregation's newspaper declared that Egged was "systematically trampling the spirit and holiness of the haredi public by forcing on it mixed journeys of promiscuity every day." It further stated that every attempt by rabbis to negotiate a separate bus line with Egged had been rejected.

"Egged's transportation of promiscuity is currently the number one enemy of haredi Judaism, and has already claimed many victims," the ad continued.
For what it's worth, whether one agrees with the views or not, it is hard to argue with the approach. If you don't like the services a company offers, by all means, find a way to offer it yourself. If the market for such a thing truly exists, then it will likely be successful; if not, it probably won't. This is actually a good test of the Charedi population to see whether they can create, run, and support cheap busing for their own community - and perhaps more importantly, whether the average person truly cares to do so. (Egged already runs many separate-sex lines for the Charedi community.)

One of the greatest things about free-market economics is that it allows - and forces - people to choose what is important to them. If people truly feel that something is important, they will pay (extra) money for it; if they do not, they will not... particularly in a rough economic period. The charedi community has used its clout before to force companies like Egged and ElAl to cater to their demands, but only by showing that it was in the best economic interests of those companies to do so, by taking away a large customer base. Economics forces people who feel something is important to show and convince enough people of the worthiness of their position for it to come into being. This is a good situation to see just how important people view this supposed ideal of separate seating.