Female MKs - Emil Salman
Benjamin Netanyahu with female MKs in the Knesset. Photo by Emil Salman
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Kadima MK Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, speaking recently at a conference organized by a lobby group dedicated to preserving the Israeli family unit, delivered a scathing attack on feminist values, insinuating that complaints of sexual harassment are often ungrounded.

"I've never been sexually harassed," she told the conference organized by Familists in Ramat Gan last month. "When a man flatters me, I'm happy. It's part of the natural balance of nature." The full speech can be viewed on the group's website.

The organization, headed by Gil Ronen, is dedicated to "saving and rejuvenating the Israeli family unit," according to its website. Its members see their mission as combating so-called "genderists," whose true agenda, they believe, is persuading women to leave their husbands and take their money and children. The group says its mission is to support "the sanctity of marriage between man and woman," and for that to happen, a man must be a man and a woman must be a woman.

It is noteworthy that Shamalov Berkovich obtained a seat in the Knesset by virtue of her being a woman. She took one of the seats on the Kadima Party list that was reserved for women.

In her speech, she espoused on her views on women and family.

Being a single parent, Shamalov Berkovich said, was "suddenly the bon-ton," with Knesset members competing with one another to pass the most generous legislation for single parents. Only "gender-related laws," she said, were being enforced in the country.

Shamalov Berkovich said that because she had declared herself a proponent of "men's rights," she risked being blamed for the next domestic violence murder. "The next time a woman is murdered, I'm going to be [portrayed as] the social worker who was to blame. That's because I decided not every man is a murderer. [But] I'm ready to take the risk, if justice will be done, even for a handful of people who suffered injustice. I'm willing to draw the fire."

The Kadima MK also made reference to Orly Innes, the complainant against former candidate for police commissioner, Uri Bar Lev. She called Innes "a 30-year-old-woman who got thrown on the grass and waited 100 years until he was up for promotion and suddenly spoke out."

Innes' spokesman Nissim Duek told Haaretz he would advise Shamalov Berkovich to focus on parliamentary work and let the police do their job.

On the issue of feminism, Shamalov Berkovich remarked: "Feminism hurts women. I don't want a single feminist thinking for a second she brought me to my high position of an MK. I didn't get anywhere I got because a feminist made me feel I can stand on my own. My husband, the respect my father gave my mother, brought me to understanding that a woman deserves everything and can get anywhere. Because there's a balance in this society, but that balance is being broken by the feminists." Without her husband, she stressed, she would not have advanced far in life. "I'd like to tell the feminists - dear friends, I'm ready to demand equal rights, but first let a man give birth. I want to be strong, to use what I have as a woman, my strength, my sensitivity. But without my husband I wouldn't have gotten anywhere."

In response to a question by Haaretz, Shamalov Berkovich confirmed on Wednesday that "this is what I think. Men are being discriminated against because laws have changed." She said that on February 8, she plans to hold a conference in the Knesset together with Familists to promote the issue of family. "I know I'll be criticized by feminists but justice needs to be done," she said.

Speaking to Haaretz, Familist group activists said men were more suited than women for positions of power. Women, they said, do not usually think in hierarchical terms; their world is more homely and focuses on relationships with men, which is why women are bigger fans of relationship films. The bodies and souls of women, they said, are suited better to life at home and to raising children. Their role is not to compete with their husbands but to take pride in their success, because their success is the success of the entire family.