The Jerusalem Post
The right way
his was a week of good news.
After announcements of new appointments, the new governing coalition will have no less than seven women acting as directors-general in government ministries.
On Wednesday, Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej (Meretz) appointed Roni Elon to run that ministry. Frej joins newly appointed Galit Cohen, who was chosen to be a director-general by Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz); Ziona Kenig Yair, who was appointed to run the Diaspora Affairs Ministry; Na’ama Kaufman, who was appointed by Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) to be director-general of the Agriculture and Negev and Galilee Development Ministry; and Michal Frank, who was appointed by Merav Michael (Labor) to run the Transportation Ministry.
These five join Yael Mevorach and Liran Avisar-Ben Horin, who already hold the positions of directorsgeneral in the Social Equity and Communication ministries.
The number might even climb to eight if Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen (Blue and White) will decide to keep the current director-general, Shai-Lee Spigelman.
In any case, this is a record number of women holding the most senior professional positions in Israeli public service. Director-general is not a prestigious title, but it is actually the most powerful person in a ministry, and their job is to carry out the government’s decisions.
The blessed change adds to another record broken by the new government: It has nine women ministers out of 27 ministerial positions, three of whom are members in the prestigious and powerful security cabinet.
The need for this change was highlighted once again this week.
Members of the opposition who were part of the government in the past decade and had two parties, Shas and UTJ – which would not include women on their lists as a matter of policy – demonstrated their despicable attitude toward women during a Knesset committee meeting.
“You will answer me like a good girl,” MK Miki Zohar (Likud), who served as the coalition chairman until two weeks ago, told Coalition Chairwoman Idit Silman.
In a video that circulated online, MKs Yaakov Asher (UTJ) and Yaakov Margi (Shas) were seen mocking Silman as well. While she was holding consultations with other senior coalition figures, Asher yelled, “Allow her, allow her [to let us talk],” as if she needed the approval of a man in making decisions while running the committee. Margi then mocked the way she was running things, mentioning her previous occupation as a teacher.
In another video, MK Meir Porush (UTJ) is seen making fun of Silman’s voice. “We can’t hear what you’re saying. You’re talking to the microphone .... Having a baritone voice is a gift of God,” he said. “You don’t have this voice. No one can understand what you’re saying. No one can hear what you’re saying. It [the committee meeting] looks like a bazaar. A bazaar looks good compared to what we see here. You’re not running the show.”
In a previous committee meeting, Porush told Silman that she was “acting like a little girl.”
In what universe does a public representative speak like that to their colleagues? How on earth can someone have the nerve to humiliate a parliament member in such a humiliating way?
Luckily, backed by a new coalition and its new attitude, Silman demonstrated restraint and immediately said that this was a known tactic by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters, to try to stick offensive labels on their rivals (in her case, “little girl”) and thus hope to change the public’s view of them.
However, Silman also presented a new approach, which it is hoped will become more dominant as women assume important roles in the country’s leadership.
“I don’t think that any woman deserves to be called a little girl. However, I will keep talking in a polite manner,” she told KAN’s Ya’ara Shapira.
Silman is the first woman to hold this position in 30 years. “I think that I bring with me a new perspective, which is friendly, motherly, professional, maybe a little different from the usual,” she said. “I want to find more compromises.”
We commend the new government’s approach to give a voice to those who deserve it, which has been missing for many years.
May they succeed in bringing about this change, and maybe even blocking the wave of uncivilized political discourse we have gotten used to in recent years.