Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni criticized fellow Kadima member MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich on Thursday for speaking out against single mothers and women who complain of sexual harrassment at an anti-feminist conference.
Shamalov-Berkovich spoke at a conference in the Knesset for a lobby called "The Familists" in late December. The group dedicated to saving "the normal nuclear family unit," which it says is "under threat in Israel," recently uploaded a video of her speech to YouTube, in which the MK says that it has become a trend "to have a child outside of a family, and then come to the state and ask for benefits on this and on that, and everyone's happy about it."
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"In the Knesset, there is a competition over who writes the most gender-based bills, and I promise you that I will never be number one in this matter," Shamalov-Berkovich, a founder of the Israeli Russian-language newspaper Vesty
and television station Israel Plus, said.
The Kadima MK also implied that women and men do not deserve equal rights: "This is what I say to feminists: Dear friends, I am willing to ask for equal rights in everything, but first I want a man to give birth. When the first man gives birth, I am willing to say that I and a man are equal."
"I'm telling you, in my life, no one ever sexually harassed me," Shamalov-Berkovich said. "Why? I don't think I'm so ugly, I'm OK. I'm a 5 and a half. But when a man compliments me, I'm happy. It's part of the balance in nature. He compliments me, I don't say that he's handsy." She blamed the media for concentrating on sexual harassment.
"One of the worst problems in our society, in my opinion, is a crisis of
trust," Shamalov-Berkovich said. "No one trusts anyone, and it's clear
why, it's because we're a Jewish state and Jews are shady and remained
shady. They came to Israel and forgot that this is our trait, and kept
tricking each other, and 60 years later, it's come back like a boomerang
to our face."
"These are very dangerous words I'm saying," Shamalov Berkovich
admitted. "I'm saying some very tough things that other people won't
tell you because it isn't politically correct."
Livni told Shamalov-Berkovich that she disagrees with her opinions on
women's rights, and that the party will work to prevent any harm to
women's rights, dignity and independence.
MKs Orit Zuaretz and Shlomo Molla, Kadima members of the Knesset
Committee on the Status of Women called Shamalov-Berkovich's speech
"cheap populism on an issue that is very important."
They released a statement saying they "condemn MK Shamalov-Berkovich's
words, which do not fit an enlightened country like Israel. Her rude,
primitive statements do not represent the values of Kadima. We regret
that she chooses to harm women's status in Israel, and even worse, uses
the fact that she's a woman in order to weaken women in their just fight
for equal opportunities."