Opposition women's rights rally 311.
(photo credit: Itzik Edri/Dover Kadima)
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat joined an opposition- led rally to stop
discrimination against women on Wednesday, calling for the government to take
action against the phenomenon.
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The event, originally planned by Labor’s
young guard, began with a march from the Supreme Court to the Knesset, during
which MKs and activists held torches and quoted the well-known Hanukka song
“Banu Hoshech Legaresh” (we’ve come to dispel the darkness).
Most of the
MKs participating in the demonstration were from Kadima, including opposition
leader Tzipi Livni. Meretz and Labor MKs were also present, though Labor
leader Shelly Yacimovich, who spoke out against the “terrible regression” in
women’s rights on Channel 2 that day, was conspicuously absent.
who leads the Interministerial Committee on the Status of Women, joined the
protesters when they reached a Knesset conference room, saying discrimination
has become more common and extreme recently, and that it is a form of violence
At the same time, Livnat warned against turning women’s
rights into a political issue, saying many others in Likud agree with her, but
probably felt uncomfortable attending an event where Kadima, Labor and Meretz
MKs bashed the government.
“Only if we leave politics aside, will we be
able to eliminate this dangerous phenomenon,” Livnat said. “Let’s join hands and
fight the exclusion of women from the public sphere.
The Kadima leader
commended Tania Rosenblit, who attended the rally after becoming famous earlier
this week for refusing to move to the back of a gender-segregated bus, for her
courage in running her life without allowing others to dictate
“Hanukka is a holiday of light, but a great darkness has fallen on
Israel,” Livni began her speech to the demonstrators.
discrimination against women, “price tag” attacks and bills seeking to limit the
Supreme Court’s power are all related. She called for the public to hold up the
torch of enlightenment and liberalism to protect Israel as a Jewish and
Rosenblit asserted she deserves the freedom to express
herself, sit where she wants, dress the way she wants and eat what she wants as
long as she is not harming anyone.
However, she said, her rights have
been taken away in order to be sensitive to others.
MK Shaul Mofaz
(Kadima) said he found it unfortunate this problem became public because of an
IDF ceremony, in which religious soldiers walked out rather than hear a woman
He said when he was IDF chief of staff, he worked to make as many
army positions available to women as possible, and called for the government and
the IDF to ensure women and men have equal opportunities.
“This is a
democratic state,” Mofaz said. “We cannot let any group, small as it may be, to
set us back to darker days. We must declare this every day.”
Herzog (Labor) said the demonstration is to defend the country’s character, and
that he is appalled that women’s rights even have to be on the agenda, because
they should be obvious to all.
Herzog said his grandfather, the first
Ashkenazic chief rabbi of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog, never had a problem
participating in ceremonies with women, even in “the most important events of
Rabbi Refael Feuerstein of the Zionist rabbinical organization
Tzohar said discrimination against women is a “desecration of God’s name”
because it “makes the face of Judaism ugly.” Feuerstein said at the
demonstration that Tzohar seeks to make Judaism something that can connect the
people of Israel and appeal to those who aren’t religious as well.
rabbi called for those fighting for women’s rights to make sure they do so in a
way that will increase, and not destroy, solidarity between citizens.