By Craig Levin
I belong to that sector of the orthodox Jewish community where women drive, particularly those who possess a licence and insurance. That is totally un-newsworthy. My children, and many other Orthodox Jewish children throughout England attend schools where a plethora of female-driven Previas and other people carriers can be seen at home time. The streets of Golders Green, Hendon, Edgware, and dare I say it, Stamford Hill, are traversed by vehicles driven by women with hair coverings, many of whom are engaged in such nefarious activities like shopping or schlepping the kids.
There are Orthodox run taxi companies that employ, (let us not gasp too vehemently), female drivers. Some women prefer to travel in a vehicle being driven by a…woman, particularly a mini-cab late at night. My very own orthodox children, with their skirts (if they’re girls) or their kappels, tzitzit and flapping peyote, are conveyed constantly from A to B by licensed, insured females who are not so oppressed and put down by their domineering male overlords as to be allowed to do much of the schlepping.
Good Lord, these black clothed fanatics do some things that ordinary mortals do! They drive!
The news is currently circulating about the Belz community’s stance on women drivers. No less a person than the Education secretary is quoted by the BBC as saying that such a ban on female driving by a school is unacceptable. I would guess, with my scant knowledge of Hackney geography that almost all children attending the Belz institution in Stamford Hill probably live within walking distance.
Is there nothing else to talk about right now? Are England’s schools filled to the brim with stable, well-adjusted thriving children? Surely some celebrity musty be up to some shenanigan. Right now the non-driving Belz women article is number one on the BBC news page. It is beating coverage of the Fifa scandal, with its stench of corruption, money laundering and other insignificant features into third place. One would have thought more people were interested in the football story. Billions watch football. There is no market for orthodox female drag racing. Surely people are not worried that Orthodox women non-drivers in Hackney will lead the Qatar world cup to be reallocated to Gibraltar with its one tiny stadium, part of which doubles up as the airport runway?
One can imagine that poor Mr Cameron, busy hopping around Europe at present renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU, suddenly has a huger mountain to climb. Mrs Merkel will no doubt make any negotiation subject to Mr Cameron ensuring that Hassidic women are free to drive around their patch of the common Europe. What the Poles or Greeks might have to say could shake the fabric of Western society
More significantly. Belz is one of several Hasiddic groupings that can be found in Stamford Hill. It is quite conceivable that not every stance or quirk of these groups would be to the taste of your average modern mind. But for goodness sake, there are NO Belzer Hassidim running off to perpetrate or propagate the violent overthrow of our wicked and dissipated society that allows God’s glory to be undermined by the presence of women drivers. The stance of the Belz leadership on women’s driving is not the start of the slippery slope to the rise of a violent and murderous Hassidic brand of global terror. (I am not sure about slippery slopes to the rise of anything). You will not see snipers attacking parking lots of MPV’s in the name of Belz modesty. No runaway Hasssidic extremist is going to execute hundreds of modern Orthodox women for any reason, let alone their possession of driving licences.
You may not like the stance adopted by the Belz Hassidim, but they won’t be protesting outside other schools against women drivers at home time. They are a group within a group within a group within a group. They threaten no one. They do not intimidate anyone nor propagate violence or condemnation of others, even for issues where they may have stronger convictions than regards women drivers. They leave society alone. Leave them alone.