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Archives Reveal: Likud MK, Not Rabbi, was ‘Anti Women’

It was a Likud MK, not Rabbi Ben-Dahan, who proposed cancelling the Knesset committee on women’s affairs.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/20/2013, 1:15 PM

Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan
Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan
David Hochberg, B'Sheva

Recently the Likud Beytenu party has accused the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party of sexism against women. The attacks have focused on candidate Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan in particular, and have accused him of seeking to cancel the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women.

However, a quick Internet search revealed that it was, in fact, a Likud MK who sought to cancel the committee in question.

A look at the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Aharonot’s 2003 archives shows that then-MK Reuven Rivlin proposed ridding the Knesset of several committees, among them the Committee on the Status of Women. Rivlin argued that the committees in question were not needed as independent bodies, and that the Knesset Committees would operate more efficiently if those committees' functions were transferred elsewhere.

Rivlin’s suggestion upset both feminist organizations and female MKs within the Likud party. His idea was ultimately shot down, and the committees remained.

In addition tne-Likud MK  Marina Solodkin headed the committee over ten years ago and tried to effect the same change, saying that the different forces in the family must work together and not be fighting each other for rights.

Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett explained last week that Rabbi Ben-Dahan never suggested getting rid of the Committee on the Status of Women, but rather, sought to unite it with the Committee on the Rights of the Child – a move he thought would strengthen both committees.

Sources within the party have argued that Rabbi Ben-Dahan’s history in the religious courts system proves he is not sexist. On the contrary, Rabbi Ben-Dahan worked to promote women’s rights, they said, and found ways to have many recalcitrant husbands grant their wives halakhic divorces, which can only be legal when granted by the husband..