Israeli Right-wing Lawmaker Attacks #MeToo Campaign, Saying It Casts All Men as Rapists

Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich's statement, a reaction to the rape testimony of Israeli actress Orna Banai, draws widespread criticism on social media

Habayit Hayehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich at the National Union conference, Jerusalem, September 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Right-wing Israeli lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich took to Twitter on Friday to attack the #MeToo campaign, which over the past week has brought to light the frequency of sexual harassment and attacks suffered by women around the world.

Reacting to the testimony of a number of Israeli female public figures who had been victim to such attacks, including actress Orna Banai, TV personality Ayala Hasson and singer Yardena Arazi, the Habayit Hayehudi MK wrote: "The truth must be told: The #MeToo campaign is false, biased and dangerous, designed to portray all men as harassers and rapists, and all women as victims."

According to Smotrich, the campaign is a "radical feminist" ploy that seeks to incite a breakdown of the family unit, and relations between men and women. The many women's "reservations" he said, some a "result of naivety," should be ignored.

Responding to Orna Banai's claims in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that she had been raped by a number of men, the lawmaker said that "Whoever needs proof can read Orna Banai's delusion 'complaint' and understand what it is all about."

Banai had written in her testimony that she had been attacked "Not by a stranger who attacked me in a dark alley, but by men I knew and had to sleep with because they wanted to, because they demanded it, because they had to satisfy themselves and their hunger."

The lawmaker's comments were widely criticized on social media, including by Likud MK Yehuda Glick, who said that it was incorrect to claim that the #MeToo campaign attacks men or criticizes the institution of marriage.

Amid widespread criticsm on social media, Smotrich published a clarification in which he wrote: "Let it be clear: The phenomenon of sexual harassment is a terrible and widespread social phenomenon that needs to be curtailed: Education and the intensification of punishment, not by a war between the sexes."

Right-wing entertainer Yossi Eliasi, also known as "The Shadow," also took to social media on Friday to attack Banai after her recent testimony, saying the actress was looking for media attention: "How far will one go to be back in the headlines?" the rapper wrote. Eliasi's misogynitic diatribe also took aim at the actress's political views:

"That I am a delusional leftist that loves Arabs, I've already said. During [Operation] Protective Edge I already said that I'm ashamed of my nation. I've already told everyone that I'm a lesbian with a young and stupid partner. So now I'll say that actually I'm not exactly a lesbian, but that I've been with men and that they've all raped me. In fact, sex with a guy = rape. So Miss Orna Banai, its not called rape, but rather, being a slut."