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MK Calls on Bar Ilan to Rethink Feminist Confab

MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich says radical feminist conference at Bar Ilan is anti-family, asks to rethink it.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/22/2011, 10:26 PM

Bar Ilan campus
Bar Ilan campus
University website

MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich (Kadima) has published letters she sent earlier this week to Welfare Minister Moshe Kachlon and Bar Ilan President Moshe Kaveh, asking them to rethink a conference that is to be held at the university on January 3.

The conference is hosted by the university's Rackman Center, which is headed by militant feminist Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kadari. Another leading speaker will be Dr. Dafna Hacker of Tel Aviv University's Gender Studies program, a militant feminist with strong ties to the New Israel Fund.

The conference is timed to coincide with the release of the conclusions of a government committee that is expected to recommend canceling the Tender Years Clause that gives mothers automatic custody over young children in divorce. Israel is said to be the last country in the world where this clause is still in effect.

Shamalov-Berkovich notes that the first part of the conference is intended for social workers. In it, Hacker and former judge Saviona Rotlevi, both of whom oppose equality between divorced fathers and mothers in parenting arrangements, will speak to the social workers. In addition, an Australian researcher, Prof. Jennifer Mackintosh, will address the social workers and is also expected to speak against the idea of joint parental custody over children.

Shamalov-Berkovich notes that the conference is biased and that the social workers should also be exposed to the views of experts who support the cancellation of the Tender Years Clause.

In divorce cases that involve disagreement over parenting arrangements, social worker's reports and recommendations are crucial to shaping the court's decision. 

Bar Ilan U's militant feminist leadership suffered some setbacks in the past year, in the wake of growing criticism of its ultra-leftist leanings.

The Rackman Center is named after Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, an American rabbi who served as president of Bar Ilan after terms as head of the Rabbinic Council of America and provost of Yeshiva University. He created a rabbinic court for anullment of marriages which was widely criticized by Orthodox mainstream rabbis, but he was not in favor of radical feminism.