Daily Israel Report

'Chauvinism' Campaign Fails to Dent Bayit Yehudi

Anger in religious-Zionist leadership at Likud attempts to portray Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan as anti-women.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/13/2013, 11:37 AM

Rabbi Elyahu Ben Dahan
Rabbi Elyahu Ben Dahan
David Hochberg, Besheva

The Likud – Yisrael Beytenu campaign against Bayit Yehudi, which centers on an attempt to portray Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan as anti-women, has failed to dent the religious Zionist party's popularity.

Weekend polls still show Bayit Yehudi at 13-15 Knesset seats, while Likud – Yisrael Beytenu garners 33-35 seats. The decline in Likud's numbers appears to have been halted, this has been attributed by analysts to the embarrassing failure of the leftist parties to unite, after a high-profile meeting between three leftist leaders.

In a conversation with Arutz Sheva, a senior figure in the religious Zionist establishment who preferred to remain anonymous expressed shock at the campaign against Rabbi Ben Dahan who is number 4 on the Bayit Yehudi list.

The negative campaign portrays Rabbi Ben Dahan, who was Director of the Rabbinical Courts for 20 years, as being responsible for the suffering of women whose husbands refuse to grant them divorce decrees, or "gets." These women fall under the category of "get refuses" and "agunot."

The senior figure described this as "chutzpah" and "wickedness."

"Rabbi Ben Dahan was the one who advanced, as best he could, the situation of women in the rabbinical courts," he explained. "He was the one who established the unit for combating the agunot phenomenon and was also the one who applied pressure for integrating the female toanot, or rabbinical advocates, into the system.

"The ones who – time and time again, in ugly deals – pushed the appointment of dayanim (Rabbinical Judges) who do not favor women's benefit are the politicians from the large parties, including Likud. The Rabbinical Judges do not work for the Director, as is well known."

It was Shas, said the senior figure, which removed Rabbi Ben Dahan from his post as Director, in the hope of replacing him with a relative of one of Shas's leaders. While the move to appoint the relative failed, he added, since Ban Dahan's removal, the situation of women in the Rabbinical Courts has declined.