Some Israelis like to brag about the fact that Israel is the only real democracy in the middle east.

I myself wish that Israel were truly a democratic country.

I say this because a country that accepts into its legislature any political party, that as a matter of principle excludes women (and other minorities), cannot be truly democratic.

In Israel these days, the exclusion of women is a hot topic. I’m not sure what the recent catalyst was that outraged the Israeli public. I know it was something that happened in Beit Shemesh. Something that may also have to do with an ultra-orthodox Jewish male spitting on an eight-year-old for not dressing modestly enough, in his opinion.

Discrimination against women has been going on for years but the ultra-orthodox seem to be pushing their limits. The Israeli public, of all sectors, is catching on and it doesn’t like what it sees.

Tonight there was a massive demonstration in Beit Shemesh opposing the ultra-orthodox fundamentalism that discriminates the rights of women, forcing them to walk on only one side of the street and pushing them to the back of buses.

How touching that Shimon Peres called on all to attend if they can. Sadly, it’s too little too late. For years now the state of Israel has given hand to even this type of discrimination. Women have been forced to sit at the back of certain bus lines for years. When women’s groups rushed to the supreme court in opposition, the courts allowed the discrimination to continue saying it’s only on certain bus lines, mostly utilized by the ultra-orthodox population. And all of a sudden things have just gotten out of hand. It’s not only buses any more, it’s side walks and now it’s not only requests but demands. And when the discriminatory demands are not met, it’s violence.

So maybe it’s time we learn our lesson. It is NEVER okay to discriminate against any sector or society. Discrimination breeds more discrimination and in this case fundamentalist orthodox males breed misogynists of the worst type.

Wake up politicians and judges. The public finally has and at last you must too. You can no longer bury your heads in the sand. By enabling parties who discriminate against women to be a part of the Knesset, the state is condoning discrimination and empowering it.

Women must be able to be an active member of any party. And if they cannot, the party should not be able to run for elections. It’s hard to believe that in a democracy this isn’t obvious. Oops, I forgot, Israel is not a democracy.  But perhaps one day, when such a law is passed, Israel will finally be on its way to becoming one.