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Reporter’s United flight discrimination claim intensifies gender segregation debate

Journalist’s assertion she was asked to move seats so Haredi men wouldn’t have to sit next to her, and shouted at for refusing, comes as issues of gender equality return to fore.

Illustrative: Secular Israelis board a gender-segregated bus where women sit in the back of the bus, and men in the front. The secular women sat among ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in the front, as part of a protest against the exclusion of women in the public sphere, January 1, 2012. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

JTA – An Israeli reporter is claiming that she was the victim of discrimination by ultra-Orthodox men on a recent United Airlines flight to Newark — and that the Israeli flight attendant had sided with the men over her.

Neria Kraus’s account ricocheted across the internet while her plane was still in the air. Competing accounts of what transpired and why soon emerged, with other passengers claiming the reporter’s gender was never an issue and arguing that she had jumped to a conclusion based on a man’s religious head covering.

What’s clear is that Kraus, a US correspondent for the Israeli TV network Channel 13, has initiated a new episode in a longstanding tension between religious and secular Jews at a time when issues of gender segregation are returning to the fore in Israel.

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