If Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastassia Michaeli had it her way, the media would focus
on the work she has done in the Knesset to lower the price of school textbooks
and after-school activities for children.
It would report on bills she
has passed preventing violence against caregivers and setting a minimum prison
sentence for hit-and-run drivers. And it would highlight her legislation in the
works for free education for children of all ages following their mothers’
extended maternity leave and free public transportation for children up to age
seven as well as for their strollers.
But instead, the press has only
focused on Michaeli when she has said and done things that have sparked
When she entered the Knesset, there were positive reports
praising her for balancing her career with raising her eight children without
the help of a nanny, but since then she believes coverage of her has been
negative and shallow.
“It is strange that I didn’t get any press for all
the work I have done on education, but I say one thing people consider
controversial and then I get bombarded,” she said in an interview with The
Jerusalem Post. “I understand the press goes after ratings but they went way too
Actually, she has said and done a few controversial things that
have attracted attention.
In January 2011, she charged the podium when
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi was defending her participation in the Gaza Strip
flotilla. In December 2011, she proposed a bill that would limit the loudness of
the Muslim muezzins’- call to prayer. And in January 2012, she threw a cup of
water in the face of Labor MK Ghaleb Majadle after he told her to shut
But nothing compares to the media attention Michaeli has received
over the past week since she told the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women
that most gay people were sexually abused as children and that some eventually
commit suicide when they turn 40.
She added fuel to the fire when she
told Ma’ariv that “girls get pregnant, have abortions that harm their ability to
have children, and end up lesbians.”
Politicians from across the
political spectrum from Meretz to Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon issued statements
condemning Michaeli’s comments. One newspaper ran a front-page column denouncing
her as “persona non grata.”
Michaeli received hundreds of text messages
telling her to be ashamed of herself, especially her after her cellular phone
number was published on Facebook.
Some of the messages she received were
threatening and some were lewd.
Michaeli responded to all of the messages
and spoke personally to many of the senders. In her responses, she said that at
the Knesset committee meeting, she decided it was important to raise the
difficulties faced by part of the homosexual community and what she termed the
over-exposure of dangerous and graphically violent content on Israeli television
“I have nothing against the homosexual community, which
includes very talented people, including actors and artists,” she wrote.
“Unfortunately, homosexuality is too often portrayed in a twisted way that
emphasizes its less positive elements. My intention was to draw attention to a
bad public phenomenon that glorifies homosexuals and turns them into role
Michaeli told the Post her comments in the clip from the
committee shown on television and in the newspaper interview were taken out of
She said the committee was about sexual harassment. She raised
the issue of homosexuals who are harassed at work and then segued into one of
her favorite issues as a former anchorwoman: Indecency on television and the
lack of a government commission to regulate it and receive public
“The coverage of the Gay Pride Parade highlighted the most
extreme women who were not wearing shirts and men who were revealing
themselves,” she said.
“Twelve-year-old boys who are learning how to be
men and don’t know what homosexuality is will see this report and copy them. I
have nothing against homosexual individuals but there is a limit to what
children should be exposed to and nakedness in the streets crosses
Michaeli said there should instead by a parade that shows pride in
Israel’s families and athletes and second-place international chess champion
Asked about Israel’s efforts to promote itself as a
tolerant society by tweeting pictures of male IDF soldiers holding hands, she
said she preferred to explain Israel by emphasizing its family values and
presenting its authors, films, and success in science and
Regarding what she said to the newspaper, Michaeli said the
context was that women in the periphery who had been raped by Beduin had asked
her for help.
She said she was aware of some who had abortions and, after
the trauma, hated men so much that they decided to experiment with lesbian
“When people are in trouble, I try to help them,” she
said. “Maybe I used a word or two I should not have used, but I did’'t intend to
harm anyone. My critics talk about tolerance. But the verbal attacks against me
have crossed red lines.
I didn’t come to the Knesset to sit in my chair.
I came to make my views known and I will continue to. I can handle the pressure,
and I won’t break.”