There are many Muslim countries where women are subservient to their menfolk – husbands, fathers, even sons; countries where wives can be severely punished if merely suspected of being “disobedient” to their husbands; countries where women cannot leave the house without the permission of a male relative or, in some cases, without a male chaperone. Israel, though geographically situated in midst of the Arab Muslim world, has nothing in common with those countries when it comes to treatment of women; Israel belongs to the advanced West, and Israeli women are fully equal, in every respect, to Israeli men.
The Guardian, the British newspaper that is hands down the most anti-Israel newspaper in the English-speaking world – surpassing even The New York Times and The Washington Post — has now exceeded all expectations by charging that Israel has rules restricting “women’s freedom to live, work, and study.” This claim not only sounds absurd — it is absurd — and a few minutes spent searching the Internet for information on the relevant laws and customs of the Jewish state would have shown that the charge was completely false. “The Guardian Claims Israeli Women Can’t Leave Their Homes Without a Male Guardian,” by Rachel O’Donoghue, HonestReporting, July 19, 2023:
According to The Guardian’s website, its mission since its founding has been to deliver “fearless, investigative journalism” that is “free from political and commercial influence.”
Unfortunately, there was little in the way of fearless and objective journalism displayed when the outlet published an article that falsely claimed Israel has “rules restricting a woman’s freedom to live, work and study.”
The piece is based on a report by Human Rights Watch that includes Israel in a list of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait that impose restrictions on women “preventing them from moving freely in their own country and from traveling abroad without the permission of their male guardians.”
There is not a sooterkins of truth in this charge. The Guardian reporters and editors did not do any investigation of their own about a claim made by HRW that, on the face of it, ought to have aroused deep suspicion. Instead, they based their claim about Israel’s “restrictions on women’s freedom” solely on a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the two Western NGOS – the other is Amnesty International — known most for its lies about Israel, especially when it was under the leadership of Kenneth Roth (now happily ensconced at Harvard’s Kennedy School with a fat fellowship, which goes to show that crime does pay).
Sadly, the international media’s tendency to treat HRW’s word as gospel means outlets like The Guardian all too often ignore the organization’s nakedly anti-Israel agenda and uncritically reprint its most outrageous and verifiably-false claims.
And this is apparently the reason why the Guardian journalists who wrote the piece failed to do a modicum of fact-checking, which might have helped them realize that Israel has no business being mentioned in the same sentence as Saudi Arabia and Jordan when it comes to women’s rights.
The Guardian even went as far as to republish a faulty HRW map that jaw-droppingly included Israel as one of the “15 countries where women can face sanction if they leave the home without male guardian permission.”
The Guardian might also have included the succinct statement that the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry gave to HRW when approached: “Israel is a modern democracy and therefore the questions are not relevant at all regarding it and its population.”…
Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, in other words, in its laconic reply to HRW made clear that it was not going to be drawn into treating such a preposterous charge seriously; to answer it would be to dignify the charge, and the government of Israel, quite rightly, dismissed HRW’s statement as absurd and calumniating. Why did The Guardian not include this telling dismissal in its own reporting on the matter?
There is no evidence that Israel prevents women from going out without a male relative’s permission. A handful of cases where an Israeli woman was prevented by her husband from going out to work without his permission were exceptions that prove the rule – the women sued for the right not to be under a man’s control, and in every case they won.
In fact, Israel’s inclusion in the report appears to be based on HRW gazing into a crystal ball and prophesizing that some members of the Israeli government might push for legislation that would “permit gender segregation at publicly funded events or public spaces.”
Israel “might” push for legislation in the future that would permit gender segregation? But there is not the slightest evidence to support this hypothetical. The most religious and “right wing” members of the Israeli government, such as Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have never uttered a syllable about supporting such gender segregation in public spaces or at publicly-funded events. The Guardian is simply trying to find an excuse for its original bizarre and malevolent claim, by still claiming that after all, there might in the future be an attempt in Israel to impose such segregation.
In response to our complaints, The Guardian appended the following to its story:
This article was amended on 19 July 2023 to clarify that Human Rights Watch says it has included Israel in the report because some religious courts can have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce, and deprive women of spousal maintenance. A graphic in which Israel was listed alongside 14 other countries “where women can face sanction if they leave the home without male guardian permission” lacked adequate context and was removed….
Actually, there was no “context” in which such a charge against Israel would be true. It was false, period, and The Guardian’s refusal to fully own up to its meretriciousness is apparent even in its quasi-apology.
How did The Guardian ever think it could rely solely on that most anti-Israel of NGOs, Human Rights Watch, for anything to do with Israel? And did no one at The Guardian suspect that the charge HRW made against Israel for supposedly allowing Israeli women to be ruled in such a fashion by Israeli men was among the most ludicrous charges yet made against the Jewish state?