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Women's Groups Accused of 'Witch Hunt' Mentality

Women's groups' behavior in Katzav case comes under scrutiny. Poll shows much distaste for these groups among Israeli women.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/23/2011, 1:42 PM / Last Update: 3/23/2011, 2:46 PM

Flash 90

Feminist women's organizations are under fire over the part they played in the trial and sentence of former President Moshe Katzav.  After a dissenting judge on the panel that tried Katzav accused the groups of improperly influencing the trial, some women in the press are also voicing displeasure with "women's rights" groups. 

Attorney Tamar Harpaz of the Zionist Women's Forum told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service Tuesday that Katzav was a victim of injustice. "I have said that I do not feel comfortable with the very conviction," she said. "My feeling all along was that the person sitting on the defendant seat was not a [criminal] sex offender." 
 
The Katzav trial was "a sold game," she said. "The women's groups wanted to see him in jail, they kept going back to their familiar modes of operation. We saw them today in the courthouse plaza, shouting for joy and dancing when the sentence was pronounced. I think it was improper, a trial should not be conducted like that. Unlike those women's groups, it was Katzav's lawyers who showed dignity and respected the court."
 
 
"One cannot help but note that the court originally wanted to read out the sentence on International Women's Day (March 8), and this gives away the fact that the game had been sold," the columnist-activist said.
 
Harpaz said that the gender-feminist witch hunt was bound to continue. "They will keep on chopping off one head after another, until in the end it will come back to them like a boomerang," she said.
  
Another columnist, Ruthy Sinai of Ma'ariv/NRG, wrote Wednesday that "the problem is in the scent of vindictiveness and schadenfreude that emanated from the protest... Instead of serving the goals of feminism, it reeked of dark passions, and the behavior of a incited mob that gathers around the town's gallows to cheer."    
 
The groups collectively referred to in Israel as "the women's organizations" are led ideologically by the Israel Women's Network, a small, ideologically-driven gender-feminist group that was created by the New Israel Fund, which is seen by its detractors as  neo-Marxist.  
 
A poll in the March issue of Lady Globes found, however, that most Jewish Israeli women do not identify much with these groups. Thirty one percent of women said they do not identify with the groups at all and 33% said they identify "to a slight degree." Only twenty-seven percent said they identified to a large degree with the organizations.
 
Forty-two percent of women in academia said they identified with the groups only slightly, and 25% said they did not identify with them at all. Thirty percent said they identified with them to a large extent.