Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a New Israel Fund panel with my stepmother. At the panel, Naomi Chazan spoke along with other Knesset and NIF officials. Naomi Chazan is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and is currently the president of NIF. She held a firm feminist perspective throughout the panel, which I deeply admire because she truly showed how all oppression is connected. I am wildly impressed by her bad-assness and would like to share a response she gave to the question on how to deal with freedom of religion (they were actually talking about Jewish religious pluralism, not Islam or Christianity) in Israel:
“Religious Orthodoxy is bent on crushing women. This is not just an issue of freedom of religion or freedom of belief. This is a feminist issue.”
Can you see why I’m impressed? In Israel, there is a conflict that dims in comparison to Palestinian-Israeli relations. It is a conflict between the Haredim and the non-Haredim (note: I am not saying between the Haredim and the secular because non-Haredim can also be modern Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform). This conflict is directly connected to women’s rights. This conflict is a feminist issue. It is a feminist issue when women are forced to the backs of buses. It is a feminist issue when the government coerces Haredi women into not getting abortions. It is a feminist issue when the “religious right” extends to Judaism.
I will blog more about what I learned at this panel, but for now I just wanted to thank Naomi Chazan for her work on behalf of Israel and on behalf of women everywhere.