The Knesset building.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A planned meeting in the Knesset to discuss false abuse and harassment complaints to police by women sparked outrage among women’s groups, and was called off on Tuesday, but Likud MKs have a plan to revive it.
Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon told Likud MK Miki Zohar that he must cancel the meeting set for Wednesday, titled “False complaints: Are men equal in the eyes of the law?” because the topic is not under the purview of the panel he heads, the Knesset Committee for Distributive Justice and Social Equality.
The meeting was meant to discuss the ease with which the police issue restraining orders to men about whom a woman has complained.
Knesset House Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) announced on Facebook that he would call a meeting to extend the topics that may be discussed by Zohar’s committee, saying that “whoever thinks he can stop Knesset meetings because he finds them unpleasant is mistaken.”
MK Tamar Zandberg of Meretz commended Yinon for blocking the discussion, saying that he “stopped a campaign of victim-blaming that Miki Zohar tried to lead within the Knesset, a campaign that would have shamed the Israeli legislature.
“The ridiculous claims of Zohar and his friends are unworthy of a platform, certainly not in a month in which four women were murdered by their husbands. There is no symmetry and no two equal sides,” Zandberg said.
Before the meeting was canceled, 13 women’s organizations, including the Israel Women’s Network, WIZO, and Na’amat, wrote a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein asking that he stop it from taking place, something that is not within his purview.
“As people meet women every day who are victims of violence of all kinds, we must fervently protest that the Knesset chose to hold this discussion,” the letter reads. “The starting assumption that men are the victim of complaints of domestic violence is the height of absurdity. Women are those who do not get justice when men are violent. Most women do not dare to even go to the police.”
The backdrop to this meeting has much to do with internal Likud politics.
Hundreds of divorced fathers have been joining the Likud in recent years in an attempt to put forward legislation that is more favorable to them, particularly in relation to child custody, which Kisch submitted and has been pushing.
They came out in support of Zohar on Wednesday, calling false complaints a “plague,” and lamenting that men are kept away from their children because of it.
In addition, the Committee for Distributive Justice and Social Equality was created especially for Zohar, as a sort of consolation prize when he was disgruntled about not having any position in the Knesset beyond being an MK and threatened to resign.