Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a major verbal gaffe Monday, November 23, when he referred to women as “animals with rights.” During an event marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, being commemorated today, Wednesday, November 25, Netanyahu said: “A woman isn’t an animal you can beat, and nowadays we say don’t hit animals. We have compassion for animals; women are animals, and children are animals, with rights.” In a statement, Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) condemned Netanyahu for his comments, stating, “we are citizens, we are human beings… not animals.”
Netanyahu’s indiscretion was right in step with an analysis made earlier in the week by Hadash’s Feminist Forum which wrote prior to the incident: “Tragically, Israel’s current far-right ruling coalition’s disregard for these life-threatening issues [towards women] only becomes more blatant day by day.” The forum has been urging the public to participate this week in events marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the main event for which will be held today at 7:00 pm, at the Habima Square in Tel Aviv. The forum has written: “Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified. Over this past year, violence against women has continued to erupt, surging forward at an alarming rate. In Israel, twenty women have already been murdered in 2020 because of the fact that they were women. Referrals to sexual assault and domestic violence centers have skyrocketed.” Sadly, Netanyahu’s “slip” reveals a lot about the his own cultural and political misogyny and that of the society he purports to lead for well over a decade.
The UN General Assembly’s 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines this phenomena as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” Consistent with this declaration and in the spirit of this week’s events, Hadash’s Feminist Forum has written specifically: “This November 25, we will mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by expressing our solidarity with the victims and our revulsion over the ongoing abandonment of women’s security in this country.”
Today’s Tel Aviv event in Facebook (Hebrew, Arabic and English): https://www.facebook.com/events/828449377922477