Slogan for Haredi female voters.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Attorney-General’s Office said on Thursday it is considering opening an investigation into a prominent member of United Torah Judaism who made public threats last month against women who worked against the haredi party.
In early December, there was speculation that Adina Bar-Shalom, the founder of the Haredi College in Jerusalem and daughter of the late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, would join the Koolanu party of Moshe Kahlon.
In addition, a group of haredim women launched a campaign in December in which they urged haredi women to demand that a woman be given a spot on the Knesset candidates lists of UTJ, Shas and Yachad Ha’am Itanu, the new party of former Shas MK Eli Yishai.
If the parties did not comply, the campaign urged women not to vote for the haredi parties.
Against this background, Rabbi Mordechai Bloi, a prominent UTJ activist, made a series of implied threats against women who would involve themselves in such activities, including against Bar-Shalom.
“Any woman who comes close to a party which is not under the guidance of the great rabbis will leave [her marriage] without her ketuba [without the money owing to her in case of divorce], and it will be forbidden to learn in her educational institutions, or to purchase any product from her, and it will be a religious obligation to remove all her children from all institutions,” Bloi said.
In addition, he was quoted as saying that any haredi woman who would run for election in a non-haredi party “will be dealt with accordingly and will pay dearly for it.”
Deputy Attorney-General Dina Zilber wrote to the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, on Thursday saying that such comments likely constitute unlawful pressure on haredim women from standing for election to the 20th Knesset.”
Said Zilber, “A threat against women not to exercise their right to vote afforded to them by being citizens of the state is something which cannot be accepted.” Such statements must be denounced while giving a clear message to all parties and communities that they could lead to criminal investigations, she added.
She also observed that such comments could in practice lead to haredi women not being able to seek Knesset representation, injuring their right to be elected, while the right of members of the public to choose would also be harmed since they would not be able to elect haredi women.
Jourban subsequently sent Zilber’s letter to the heads of all the parties in the outgoing 19th Knesset, saying that “if what is alleged to have been said was in indeed said, it is possible that it would constitute a criminal offense in accordance with Clause 122 of the Knesset Elections Law.”
He added, “An attempt to influence, through threats, a citizen from voting according to his own conscience (and even to run in elections) is forbidden in the most severe terms and this practice must be rejected in every manner as long as [such threats] exist.”
Joubran continued saying that “if any practical steps are taken to prevent haredi women from voting to their conscience or from running for election, I will not hesitate to make use of all powers granted to me according to the law.”