Rabbi Aviner: Women shouldn’t be involved in politics

Bennett: these kind of comments are why I created the New Right party

July 5, 2019 01:42
2 minute read.
Rabbi Aviner: Women shouldn’t be involved in politics

Ayelet Shaked . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Prominent hardline National-Religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said on Thursday that women should not be involved in politics and that Ayelet Shaked should not head the Union of Right-Wing Parties. His comments aroused a storm of protest with politicians from numerous parties weighing in to condemn Aviner for “fanaticism” and causing a “desecration of God’s name.”

Aviner’s remarks came following a letter he signed together with fellow hardline leaders, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi David Hai Hacohen, as well as another 40 rabbis from the National-Religious community. The letter stated that the head of any right-wing party should be a “God-fearing person” and was seen as an attempt by the rabbis to prevent the possibility of Shaked heading the URP, as has been speculated in recent weeks, to boost the party’s electoral chances.

Speaking on KAN Radio, Aviner initially said that Shaked should not head a religious party because she is secular. However, when asked if a religious woman could head a religious party, Aviner said “It’s not okay, the complicated whirlwind of politics is not the arena for the female role.” Aviner also said that women should not give Torah lessons to men and stood by a recent ruling that men should not attend the Torah lessons by prominent religious journalist Sivan Rahav-Meir since doing so was “immodest.” Aviner also made similar comments in 2012.

The letter signed on Wednesday by Aviner, Eliyahu, and Hacohen stated somewhat more obliquely that the rabbis were backing Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz’s assertion that the person to head URP must be a “God-fearing and Torah-observant” individual. “This is not a personal issue but an issue of public values and of putting the issue of the Judaism of the State of Israel as a central issue of the National-Religious party,” the rabbis said. “Without ruling out any other candidate, God forbid, we see great importance in putting someone who flies the banner of Torah at the top of the list.”

New Right leader Naftali Bennett criticized Aviner’s comments, saying that the rabbi’s position was exactly the reason why he had established his new party after breaking with Bayit Yehudi.

“These comments represent a minuscule percentage of the religious Zionist community and cause a desecration of God’s name,” said Bennett on Twitter. “Every initiative I did in my life, I did with talented women leaders. In hi-tech, in the public realm, and in politics. The place of women in politics, and all aspects of society, is not in doubt.”

Blue and White co-leader MK Yair Lapid shot back on Twitter as well, saying that “religious and chauvinistic fanatics should not be involved in politics. And, actually, not in the rabbinate.” Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer said that Aviner was one of the most prominent rabbis indicative of the “severe phenomenon of radicalization and the deterioration toward a benighted state of Jewish law.”

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