With all due respect to his wife, Sara, Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel. Given that, his musings on Monday about the status of women in our era from a historical perspective and his melodramatic reservations about the violence against women that he became acquainted with – so he said – through his wife, made him look ridiculous. It’s as if he wasn’t supposed to know about the issue by virtue of his position; as if he didn’t have the access, the resources, the means and above all the power and the duty to eradicate it, and not just pontificate about it. And that’s without commenting on his pseudo-sociobiological stammering about women as animals with rights.
The data about the status of women are open and accessible to everyone, not least of all to the head of the executive branch for more than 11 years running. In Israel some 20 women are murdered annually, on average. He doesn’t have to be married to a psychologist who drags him – as women do – to the theater, couples therapy or women’s shelters, to know about the difficulties faced by victims of domestic violence. But Netanyahu would rather share his emotions about their pain than do what is needed to stop it. A real Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
On the day a conference was held to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which Netanyahu was addressing, the Social Affairs Ministry released some statistics which show that since the beginning of the year, municipal welfare services opened files for 2,885 cases of domestic violence. The number of domestic violence complaints filed with the ministry has tripled since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Another report released Monday came from the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, which stated that last year 92 percent of rape cases were closed with no charges filed. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, there has been a 24 percent increase in the number of calls to the rape crisis centers. But don’t bother Sara’s husband with the facts.
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- Israel's tourism, justice ministries announce plans to tackle gender-based violence
Instead of taking pride in his magnanimity and his ability to recognize the rights of women, children, animals and the disabled, it would be better if Netanyahu would provide funding and advance legislation that would require violent men to undergo rehabilitation and treatment, and to keep promises about fully funding programs to prevent domestic violence.
Instead of complimenting women and flattering them about the importance of their contributions, let him appoint women to senior positions on an equal basis. When he was asked in July why there were no women in his trimmed-down coronavirus cabinet, he replied with contempt, as if he’d been asked why one must stop at a red light in the middle of the night. With that kind of mental imagery, that goes from red lights to animals, it would be best if Netanyahu kept his mouth shut.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.