Politics: What she was trying to say?

If MK Michaeli had it her way, media would focus on work she has done to lower price of school textbooks.

Anastasia Michaeli 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)
Anastasia Michaeli 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)
If Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastassia Michaeli had it her way, the media would focus on the work she has done in the Knesset to lower the price of school textbooks and after-school activities for children.
It would report on bills she has passed preventing violence against caregivers and setting a minimum prison sentence for hit-and-run drivers. And it would highlight her legislation in the works for free education for children of all ages following their mothers’ extended maternity leave and free public transportation for children up to age seven as well as for their strollers.
But instead, the press has only focused on Michaeli when she has said and done things that have sparked controversy.
When she entered the Knesset, there were positive reports praising her for balancing her career with raising her eight children without the help of a nanny, but since then she believes coverage of her has been negative and shallow.
“It is strange that I didn’t get any press for all the work I have done on education, but I say one thing people consider controversial and then I get bombarded,” she said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “I understand the press goes after ratings but they went way too far.”
Actually, she has said and done a few controversial things that have attracted attention.
In January 2011, she charged the podium when Balad MK Haneen Zoabi was defending her participation in the Gaza Strip flotilla. In December 2011, she proposed a bill that would limit the loudness of the Muslim muezzins’- call to prayer. And in January 2012, she threw a cup of water in the face of Labor MK Ghaleb Majadle after he told her to shut up.
But nothing compares to the media attention Michaeli has received over the past week since she told the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women that most gay people were sexually abused as children and that some eventually commit suicide when they turn 40.
She added fuel to the fire when she told Ma’ariv that “girls get pregnant, have abortions that harm their ability to have children, and end up lesbians.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum from Meretz to Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon issued statements condemning Michaeli’s comments. One newspaper ran a front-page column denouncing her as “persona non grata.”
Michaeli received hundreds of text messages telling her to be ashamed of herself, especially her after her cellular phone number was published on Facebook.
Some of the messages she received were threatening and some were lewd.
Michaeli responded to all of the messages and spoke personally to many of the senders. In her responses, she said that at the Knesset committee meeting, she decided it was important to raise the difficulties faced by part of the homosexual community and what she termed the over-exposure of dangerous and graphically violent content on Israeli television channels.
“I have nothing against the homosexual community, which includes very talented people, including actors and artists,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, homosexuality is too often portrayed in a twisted way that emphasizes its less positive elements. My intention was to draw attention to a bad public phenomenon that glorifies homosexuals and turns them into role models.”
Michaeli told the Post her comments in the clip from the committee shown on television and in the newspaper interview were taken out of context.
She said the committee was about sexual harassment. She raised the issue of homosexuals who are harassed at work and then segued into one of her favorite issues as a former anchorwoman: Indecency on television and the lack of a government commission to regulate it and receive public complaints.
“The coverage of the Gay Pride Parade highlighted the most extreme women who were not wearing shirts and men who were revealing themselves,” she said.
“Twelve-year-old boys who are learning how to be men and don’t know what homosexuality is will see this report and copy them. I have nothing against homosexual individuals but there is a limit to what children should be exposed to and nakedness in the streets crosses it.”
Michaeli said there should instead by a parade that shows pride in Israel’s families and athletes and second-place international chess champion Boris Gelfand.
Asked about Israel’s efforts to promote itself as a tolerant society by tweeting pictures of male IDF soldiers holding hands, she said she preferred to explain Israel by emphasizing its family values and presenting its authors, films, and success in science and sports.
Regarding what she said to the newspaper, Michaeli said the context was that women in the periphery who had been raped by Beduin had asked her for help.
She said she was aware of some who had abortions and, after the trauma, hated men so much that they decided to experiment with lesbian relationships.
“When people are in trouble, I try to help them,” she said. “Maybe I used a word or two I should not have used, but I did’'t intend to harm anyone. My critics talk about tolerance. But the verbal attacks against me have crossed red lines.
I didn’t come to the Knesset to sit in my chair. I came to make my views known and I will continue to. I can handle the pressure, and I won’t break.”