53.8% of Religious Israelis Will Only Vote for Party with Women

76.3% of Israelis believe in equal representation of women in Knesset as controversy over haredi parties snowballs.

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Tova Dvorin,

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The overwhelming majority of Israelis support equal representation of women in the Knesset, according to a Channel 2 poll released Wednesday - including a sizable portion of the haredi community. 

76.3% of Israelis overall say that women and men must have equal representation, according to the poll, conducted by the GeoCartography Institute for WePower. Just 7.7% are against equal representation. 

Moreover, 55.7% of Israelis stated that they will not vote for political parties who explicitly exclude women from their ranks, compared to 18% who said that they specifically vote to those parties (mainly haredi parties - ed.). 

While support for equal representation is somewhat proportional by religious identification, large portions of the religiously observant population also supports women in office. 

83.2% of Israel's secular population supports equal representation for women in the Knesset, along with 76.8% of the traditional community and 53.8% of the national-religious and hareidi respondents (combined). 

In addition, 60.3% of secular Israelis, 53.6% of traditional Israelis, and 45.1% of both the national-religious and hareidi populations said they would refuse to vote for a party that excluded women on principle. 

The results differ significantly from Channel 10 poll Sunday indicating that the issue of women's representation does not affect voting. In that poll, 66% of the public said the presence or absence of women on a party list does not affect their decision, whereas 27% said it increases their chances of voting for a particular party and 7% said it decreases it. 

Have women had enough?

The poll surfaces amid tensions across the political spectrum over women in the Knesset, after Labor and other leftist parties have accused Likud of not having enough female candidates and feminists raised questions over Kulanu's "equality" policy which sees women in 1 out of every 5 spots on the list. 

The haredi community, meanwhile, is embroiled in sociopolitical turmoil over haredi parties' ban on female representatives, which has seen detractors receive threats against them and their families. 

During the previous Knesset elections, both Shas and United Torah Judaism stated that men and women "have different roles" in life, dismissing public debate over their refusal to include women in their political parties. 

But women in the hareidi community have been held back by both the ban on women's candidacy in their own community's parties and by social stigmas on women in public office - with some candidates facing threats against their and their family's safety over their public roles. 

For example, in September 2013, Chairwoman Racheli Ivenboim of the Meir Panim-Co'ah Latet food charities was forced to withdraw her Jerusalem city council campaign after she received an avalanche of threats against her. Part of the threats were due to the catch-22 situation within hareidi communities: that while women cannot be elected to public positions within hareidi parties, running under a different ticket - in her case, the religious-Zionist Jewish Home party - is seen as a form of betrayal. 

This round of elections, haredi women have caused a stir by taking a stand - both through a campaign for the hareidi parties to allow female candidates and the symbolic announcement of the formation of a haredi women's party, B'Zhutan. 








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