Women candidates play the feminism card at WIZO election event
Speaking at the event, Shelly Yacimovich refers to a poll that says only 7% of Israelis believe a woman can handle the Iranian issue.
"I want to tell you how I became a feminist," Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich began her speech at a Women's International Zionist Organization election event.
"It happened when I was in eighth grade, at the age of 13. On the first day of school the girls were sent to study nutrition and home economics, and the boys were sent to agriculture lessons. The nutrition teacher entered the class and wrote on the blackboard: 'A woman's role: to iron, cook, clean, take care of the children.' I remember this as a defining moment, the sense of injustice and anger, and knowledge that something here is basically wrong. I stood up and said that I wish myself more interesting things in life. I left the class and didn't return all year. The smells of baking that emanated from the classroom tempted me: I really wanted to go back in, since I always loved cooking, but it was a matter of principle."
Many women attended the WIZO meeting at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College, which dealt mainly with the struggle for equal rights. As opposed to the women's lobby meeting last week, this time only female Knesset candidates were asked to speak. Yacimovich was the last speaker. Before her two other candidates spoke - Tzipi Hotovely (Likud ), and Orit Zuaretz (Hatnuah ) - and earlier, five candidates held a debate: Michal Rozin (Meretz ), Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid ), Nabila Espanioli (Hadash ), Merav Cohen (Hatnuah ) and Merav Michaeli (Labor ).
The debate lasted longer than planned and Yacimovich preferred to wait in her car for half an hour, and entered only after Michaeli - a candidate for her party - had left the building. Yacimovich spoke about women's status in Israeli society, and at a certain point refered to a poll commissioned by the event's organizers, according to which only 7 percent of Israelis believed that a woman can handle the Iranian issue.
"I read with great care the Winograd report and the Marmara report. I saw how men, some of them with vast military experience, reach decisions. There's a recurring motif - decisions are reached hurriedly, in a sloppy manner, overnight, without hearing professional opinions or taking into consideration possible scenarios, and eventually lead to the inevitable difficult results. Tell me: Would a woman behave this way? Obviously not. Therefore the idea that a woman cannot fulfill such a role solely because she is a woman is absolutely absurd."
Michaeli was very well received during the debate. "As I sit here freezing I want to tell you the first bill I'll try to pass will deal with increasing the temperature of air conditioners in public places," Michaeli said, adding that it was but "a small but instructive example" of decisions taken by men. "Who decides? For now, it is the men who decide."
Michaeli, who often uses feminine nouns in place of the more common masculine nouns, added that she plans to continue using this unique form of the Hebrew language in the Knesset: "This form of language encompasses a more complex point of view," she said.
Later, she responded "God knows," in the feminine form, and received a loud ovation.
Dr. Aliza Lavie, a religious member of Yesh Atid, was the only woman who hesitated to support civil marriage, and was also under pressure when questioned about the Efrat anti-abortion group. Next week, many politicians from different parties will attend the Jerusalem Conference, where Efrat will be awarded a prize. "We decided, at Yesh Atid, that during the election campaign we won't boycott anyone," Lavi responded, but clarified that she does not support the organization's activities.
"A woman must take responsibility for her body, and no one should be allowed to interfere with that," she said.