Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Monday lashed out at a haredi man who spat on an
eight-year-old schoolgirl in Beit Shemesh last week, calling the action
“nauseating and disgusting.”
The man claimed the girl, Na’ama Margolis,
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Yishai told a Shas faction meeting that such
behavior goes against the values of the Torah, and the law must be enforced
“with all its severity.”
The Shas leader related a Talmudic story in
which the sage, Rabbi Yohanan Ben-Zakkai, opposed an extremist group called
Sikrikim, after whom the modern-day haredi group is named, saying that the
phenomenon in which a minority is more extreme than leading rabbis is at least
2,000 years old.
“I call on everyone, especially the media, to recognize
that this is an extremist group,” Yishai said. “There have been attempts at
incitement against haredim, and I hope they end soon.”
Earlier in the
meeting, MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) grumbled: “There is no discrimination against
women – it’s a lie. There’s only hatred of haredim.”
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, MKs
Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu), Orly Levy-Abecasis
(Israel Beiteinu), Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Marina Solodkin (Kadima) and others
held a meeting in the Knesset to speak out against discrimination.
is a struggle for all of society, not just women,” Livnat said, lamenting that
not all female MKs were present.
The minister explained that her office
is working on battling four phenomena: segregated bus lines; discrimination in
cemeteries, in which women are forbidden from eulogizing their loved ones;
excluding women from public ceremonies; and segregated
Yacimovich said that the escalation of discrimination against
women is terrible, but can also be seen as an opportunity to bring awareness of
the fight for equality for women.
“Women still have a lower status in
society, despite all of the feminist revolution’s achievements,” she said.
“Discrimination is everywhere, not just on buses, and not just among
Yacimovich said the struggle against discrimination is a fight
for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and sanity in Israel, which women
from all sides of the political spectrum should support even if they do not
agree on all issues.
Livni slammed the government, saying in the female
MKs’ meeting that political agreements allowed the current discrimination to
take place, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not willing to pay the
political price of standing up for women’s rights.
Referring to haredim,
Livni said Israel cannot turn into a divided country where one group studies in
a different language, decides whether or not it wants to serve in the army and
spits on the other group.
Later in the day, in response to a Kadima vote
of no-confidence on the topic of discrimination against women, which did not
pass, Livnat accused Livni of making a feminist issue
“Suddenly, when it looks like a primary is near, Livni
remembers that she’s a woman,” Livnat scoffed. She pointed out that the Kadima
leader had not been involved in recent parliamentary votes on women’s issues,
such as raising the retirement age for women.
Livnat said that female MKs
from many political parties have worked together to improve the status of women
in Israel and fight discrimination, and called on Kadima to leave politics aside
Also on Monday, Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino
mentioned the recent controversy over discrimination against women in a Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, explaining that the police cannot solve
According to Danino, discrimination against women is a
complex social issue, which the police cannot eliminate
At the same time, he said that the police has been aware
of and dealing with the matter for months, taking action against
“The police doesn’t work according to headlines and
agendas,” Danino stated. “We have a very clear policy of increasing the chances
that criminals will be caught in the State of Israel.
“It doesn’t matter
if he is [breaking the law] for reasons of ideology, faith or culture – we are a
state of the law, and we will enforce the law without compromise.”