"The family structure in Israel is endangered by a Communist plot." So said journalist and men's activist Gil Ronen at a conference on the topic of "the family" on Tuesday, causing some predictably irate responses. Ronen did not give in.
The conference, organized by the Komemiyut and Hotam organizations, and co-sponsored by the Ramle municipality, dealt with challenges and dangers faced by the traditional family structure. It brought together over 30 experts from various fields, all of whom had a significant take on this dramatic topic. In the audience of some 150 people were Ramle pensioners, policewomen, National Service girls, rabbis, social workers, legal experts, grandmothers, yeshiva students, and more.
On the agenda, according to the conference literature, were the "disappearance of 'family' from the public discourse and from national strategic policy," the "values system that has brought about this situation," a presentation of a "genuine Jewish values system that seeks to strengthen the family structure," feminism vs. familism, family-safe workplace environments, and related issues.
In one of the panel discussions, Ronen, founder of the pro-family and men's rights "Familists" organization, put the cards openly on the table. He said that the many examples of anti-men bias in the courts, media and elsewhere in the public arena are driven by nothing less than a Communist agenda. According to Ronen, feminists in Israel have, wittingly or not, bought into a wide-ranging campaign to destroy the family unit: "The dialogue in the country has changed, by design: Every flirting or untoward remark is reported as sexual harassment, the legal definition of rape has been widened in a way that makes it hard to discern consensual sex from rape, and men are constantly portrayed as violent, instead of as protective. This is all part of a campaign to change the way we think."
Predictably, these remarks elicited some strong objections, but Ronen was not deterred. He noted that some weeks ago, the gang-rape of a Jewish woman by five foreign workers in Tel Aviv "was barely covered in the press, because it did not fit the the agenda… while not long before that, an offensive remark by former MK Yinon Magal at a party refused to drop from the headlines until Magal finally surrendered to the media charges of 'sexual harassment' and resigned.
Two of three of his fellow-panelists were not convinced. Batya Kahane-Dror, an attorney who works with women who are denied divorces by their husbands, said, "On the contrary, it is a good thing that society is now talking about sexual harassment." Similarly, Yifat Erlich, a journalist for Makor Rishon, said that though she has worked with Ronen in the past, "I protest the aggressive nature of his remarks."
Ronen has long maintained that destruction of the family unit has been a long-time goal of the extreme feminist movement, and cites the recent attempt to change the legal definition of "parents" as yet another example. The law currently states that parents are a child's legal guardians with the "privilege and obligation" to raise them. Only intense lobbying by pro-family activists prevented this clause from being stricken and replaced with a new concept of “parental responsibility” that consists mainly of the parents' obligation to respect and uphold a series of “children’s rights” as defined by the bill. The change would have further stipulated that this “parental responsibility” can be limited or obviated by a court, should the authorities decide that the parent is not carrying out his or her “parental responsibility” properly.