Question: Do women have equal rights in Israel? If not, what is
preventing them from achieving equal rights?
Answer: No, women don't have equal rights. They are deprived of
power politically, religiously, and socially. They've been prevented in the past of
achieving equality by their own loyalties and by an unwillingness to buck the status quo.
Women, who can contribute so much, feel the constant need to give without receiving.
Moreover, they lack the tools to change the system. For example, religious women aren't
taught Talmud, the source of all Jewish law. Thus, they are unable to argue for change
within the rabbinnic system, not understanding the legalities and the language involved.
The same is true of secular women.
Question: Why are there so few women in the Knesset today? Are
women really represented?
Answer: They don't know how the political system works, and
thus are unable to achieve the political power to make necessary changes.
Question: Do women get equal salaries as men in similar jobs?
What holds women back in the labor market?
Answer: Salaries are unequal for the same jobs. Women don't
know how to demand equal pay. It comes down to powerlessness and a failure of the system
to educate women to take a more active role in determining what their place should be.
Question: Are there appropriate laws and legislation to allow
women equal opportunities in the job market? (Child care, pregnancy leave laws, etc.)
Answer: I think the laws on the books are very generous ones.
Women get maternity leave, they have their job held for them for a year; they can go home
an hour early if they have small children....This is all very good. What is missing is the
ability to force employers to give women high paying jobs, which are often denied because
employers don't want to pay out these generous benefits.
Question: Should women be allowed into all I.D.F. branches,
including in combat roles?
Answer: I don't think the army needs women at all, since most
of them are simply working as clerks. I think it should be voluntary enlistment for women,
and that they should be able to choose more interesting and responsible jobs. But I don't
think equality is based on the right to equally endanger your life.... I don't think women
should be put into combat units.
Question: Does Judaism hold women back in Israel?
Answer: As it is now misinterpreted by the rabbinnic
establishment, certainly. The disgraceful state of divorce, the disgraceful way that
religious women suffering from abusive husbands are ignored and told to keep quiet, the
burden of supporting a family and caring for it while a husband "sits and
learns" i.e. and in many cases simply "sits and warms" the bench. The lack
of higher education available to religious women, the pressure for a religious girl to
marry at seventeen or eighteen; the ban on birth control, all these things make women's
lives static and difficult and sometimes unbearable.
Question: Have things changed in 50 years? Are women making
progress towards equal rights?
Answer: I think at least women are beginning to be aware of
what is wrong, and that is a necessary first step.