Here is a quick round-up of the #MeToo movement in Israel from the past few days:
* Alex Giladi, the head of Keshet, has been accused of rape by at least two women. In a very Harvey Weinstein-esque description, women were apparently told that if they want to get a meeting, they have to speak to "it" -- he would say this while standing naked in front of them. So we know what "it" is. Anyway, Giladi hasn't denied this, and has "stepped aside" from his current role but has not suffered any consequences of these revelations.
* Haim Yavin, the famous news anchor, has been accused of making similar propositions to Neri Livneh. Haim Yavin has that same "clean cut" image that we have seen in other alleged sexual predators, the Bill-Cosby type of father-figure style that makes people reluctant to believe he would do such a thing.
* Ehud Barak apparently helped Weinstein cover up -- not literally, but figuratively -- his actions by connecting him with the Mossad. What does it tell us that Israeli security agents were being used to help a rich rapist, with zero interest in the victims? There are layers of patriarchy here and we have only begun scratching the surface of what this means.
* Gabi Gazit has been accused by Dana Weis of sexual harassment, where he would kiss her on the lips without permission. He has not denied these allegations and in fact sort of bragged that "One day, people will be telling stories about me from 45 years ago." This was actually just 15 years ago.
* Yoram Zak of Big Brother (a Keshet production....) would routinely send the women on his staff explicit sexual notes and comments, like an entire email all about the erection he had because he thought about how beautiful they all are. The emails don't lie. As opposed to the others here, he has apologized and said that he is embarassed by what he wrote then and has changed. He says he understands now what he didn't understand then, that this is wrong.
* MK Yael German has joined the ranks of the testimonies by sharing that she was sexually assaulted by her gynecologist.
* The late Tommy Lapid, who everyone knows was crass and gross -- though some considered those qualities endearing in the man -- has been posthumously accused of attempted rape of journalist Sylvie Keshet in London in 1063. His son Yair points out that we can't ask the father what really happened. True. So we'll just leave this there.
* An unnamed senior executive in the tax authority sexually harassed his colleagues and was fired for "medical reasons" rather than face the consequences.
If I missed a story on this, please share so I can add it.
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"Radicalization is getting worse, for sure. At the same time, the vision of equal rights, equal participation and women's power — all of that is getting stronger around the world," says gender sociologist Elana Sztokman, author of a book called The War on Women in Israel.
Read the rest here. Or, listen to this NPR podcast about ultra-Orthodox battles against women in Israel.
Here is an excerpt of an essay I wrote for the ABC Religion and Ethics column in advance of my NCJW Scholar-in-Residence tour of Australia that commences next week:
There are some strange things happening around the world when it comes to gender. And I'm not just referring to the Queen of England driving around the Saudi prince in a Range Rover, just to prove that women can drive.
I'm talking about the American presidential elections.
The current American campaign is likely to be a race between the Neanderthal and the feminist, or between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In this bizarre reality, there currently seem to be roughly the same amount of people who believe that it is time for a woman to be president as there are those who believe that women are merely valued for the perkiness of their breasts.
It is difficult to reconcile this dual reality, what I call the Clinton-Trump paradox. How can it possibly be that two completely oppositional views about the status of women have equal weight in the public mindset? Yet, this is the reality not just in the United States but in many places around the world.
These two trends seem to coexist - one being a drive to advance women's economic and political opportunities, and the other a drive to send women back to the Playboy mansion.
Inequality in Israel
I see this paradox here in Israel, where I have been conducting research on gender issues in society for over a decade. On the one hand, there have been some interesting strides towards gender equality. The Knesset has a record 32 (out of 120) women legislators - a steady increase over the past 20 years - including many powerful feminists who are dedicated to advancing gender equality. Israel has had a female Supreme Court justice, a woman heads the Bank of Israel, and Israel was one of the first countries to have a female prime minister (although that was in 1969 and hasn't been repeated).
The army, a notorious bastion of militaristic male machismo, has opened up many interesting roles for women - and in fact remains the only country in the world where all 18 year old young men and women have mandatory conscription.
Israel has some of the most progressive feminist legislation in the world: mandatory 14 week parental leave, free state-funded child care from age three, a prohibition against firing pregnant women, and far reaching laws against sexual harassment. And interestingly, to its shame and credit, Israel is the only country in the world where a former president is sitting in jail for crimes of rape. It's a shame that a president can be a rapist, but enormous credit that he was caught, tried, convicted and treated just like every other sexual predator.
On the other hand, many indicators show Israeli women falling behind. Women make a paltry 66% of what men make - a figure that hasn't moved significantly in over thirty years, placing Israel at seventy-first in...
Israel was one of the first countries to elect a female head of state – Golda Meir – but that hasn’t happened again since 1969, the year I was born.
Israel ranks 53rd in the world out of 135 on the Gender Index of the World Economic Forum – ahead of the Arab states, but way behind most Scandinavian and European countries. Other countries that might be of interest : (see chart on the right)
Iceland is number 1
Rwanda is 6
Philippines is 7
Nicaragua is 12
France at 15
Namibia is 16
South Africa is 17
UK at 18
Latvia is 20
US at 28
Canada at 30
Israel’s ranking on gender has gone DOWN over the past decade – in 2004 Israel ranked 35…
Motherhood and fertility
Israel offers paid parental leave of up to 14 weeks, for men or women.
Israel has free childcare above age of three
It is illegal to fire pregnant women in Israel or to make pregnant workers do any lifting
Israel literally pays women to have babies
Abortion is legal under certain conditions, but all women who seek abortions have to be evaluated by a panel.
A heterosexual married woman in her childbearing years usually cannot get a legal abortion without a medical reason unless the abortion panel declares her effectively insane.
A woman who wants an abortion because she doesn’t want to have children also has to be declared by the panel mentally unwell.
Abortion is free for secular teenage girls, but religious girls in national service have to pay for it.
On the rank of economic equality alone, Israel ranks 71st out of 135 countries.
Women make, on average, 66% of what men make, a statistic that hasn’t significantly moved in over three decades.
Arab women are on the bottom of Israel’s economic totem pole: According to the Adva Center, the average Jewish man makes 11,833 NIS per month; the average Jewish woman makes 7,414 NIS per month; the average Arab man makes 6,383 NIS per month; the average Arab woman makes 4,956 NIS per month – less than half of what a Jewish man makes.
The average monthly wage of women managers is 73% that of male managers.
Even though 65% of state workers are women, less than a third reach the level of senior management.
Of the 106 government authorities, only four have a woman director.
Only 1 in five hi-tech workers are women
In academia , 48.3 percent of Israeli women have 13 or more years of schooling compared to 45.4 percent of men.
Only one in every five Israeli professors is a woman.
Almost six times more men than women run their own businesses.
Of the 100 top traded companies, only six are run by women
Of the top 500 companies, only 5.4% are run by women, down from 8% in 2010
Only 4% of boards chairs are women, down from 5% in 2010
18% of members of the boards are women.
Well, it's official: I'm going to Australia, as the NCJWA Scholar-in-Residence!! I will be giving talks on topics related to the status of women in Israel to groups in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra, as well as participating in the Melbourne Jewish Writers' Festival! And visiting Shira, yay, as well as some of the schools..... I have not been back to Melbourne since we moved back to Israel in 2005. That is a long time..... Looking forward to catching up and reconnecting with family and friends. Thank you Shirley Krause Glance and Di Hirsh for believing in me and making this happen. And to those of you who want to catch up, send me a note -- looking forward! May 18-June 3. Really really excited...