Hillary, our dear friend. A few days ago, you expressed your deep concern about
harm to the status of women in Israel, which you said reminds you of the events
in Iran. The truth is you surprised us. Really.
We did not think that in
the midst of a range of international disputes, along with the reversal of the
Arab Spring that now turns out to be winter, Iran’s development of nuclear
weapons and other real and tangible threats, you would still manage to find time
to deal with the status of women.
But we certainly agree with you – the
status of women and women’s rights is a universal and important
In Israel, we do have problems, as you pointed out in your
address to the Saban Forum – problems such as women’s seating arrangements in
some buses or women singing to religious soldiers.
These issues certainly
keep us awake at night, and we appreciate the fact you share our concerns.
Although the extent of these phenomena is very limited, we are trying to find a
way to resolve them, and the government of Israel, out of a deep commitment to
the status of women, will act to prevent any violation of equality between women
(In our country, by the way, a woman serves as the president of
the Supreme Court, a woman is the head of the opposition, a woman serves as a
major-general in the army, and I could give you many more examples.) Each of the
sectors in Israel – men and women, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, and
others – has representatives in the Knesset, courts, academia, media and all the
mechanisms of society.
Because of this, we are really upset that there
are several bus lines in which women are required to sit in the back, and we
will do all in our power to stop this phenomenon.
We are pleased to know
that you, our close friend, are also worried. We are pleased, because we
understand that if you are concerned about the status of women in Israel, you
are much more concerned about status of women in other countries friendly to the
United States, such as Saudi Arabia, for example.
After all, if you’re
concerned about the sitting arrangements on the buses in Israel, you must be
even more worried about the fact that in Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive at
all, not a bus and not a private car.
I am certain that you’re worried
that in Arab countries such as Egypt or Qatar, men can marry several women and
divorce them without any reason, leaving them without any rights, without
custody for their children and certainly without alimony.
certain that you’re worried that in Muslim countries such as Indonesia or
Pakistan, women are executed on charges of adultery.
But, somehow, I do
not recall that you have expressed your concern about it or have taken any steps
to stop it. Am I wrong? I know that you, Hillary, as one of the most powerful
women in the world, attach great importance to the subject of women’s rights,
devoting your time to promote this issue despite your busy schedule.
guess you’re also very concerned about domestic issues in the US relating to
human rights, such as the new law in Arizona that was signed by the governor,
permitting the police to arrest anyone who might look like an illegal immigrant,
which could encourage racial discrimination.
So to make it easier on you,
I want to tell you that you should not be so worried about the status of women
As I mentioned, there are other places in which the issues of
women’s rights, or the rights of minorities or homosexuals, are much more
painful. In Israel, unlike in other places and just like in the US, we are
taking care of equality between men and women, and we don’t need help. We even
get a little offended when we are the targets of moralistic preachings on this
Israel is not Iran or Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it would be better
to begin where the real problems are.
(This article was translated by
Moria Dashevsky.) The writer is minister of environmental protection.