The Similarities Between Israeli and American Women
by: June M. Kimmel
March 10, 2002
I was struck by the similarity in statistics between Israeli women and
American women - I believe many American women are not aware how
similar they are!
Women Israel USA
52% 52% Population
47% 47% Workforce
3.5% 3.8% top management (IWPR, Heidi Hartmann)
80% 60% minimum wage recipients
13% 13% US House and Senate (latter 13.8%)
Except for the differential in minimum wage recipients, the American and
Israeli women worker profile looks virtually identical. Hartmann quotes a
study from the Educational Testing Service indicating that of prime age
workers consistently earning less than $15,000 per year over five years,
85% were women. (Conference paper, 2000).
"The 1998 Catalyst census of women in top management in Fortune 500 firms
found that only 16.2% of corporate officers were women and only 3.8% of
those with the top titles were women. Their wages also averaged
substantially below those of males in the same jobs." Quote from Hartmann
She also quotes a study from the U. of Michigan, where they were able to
control for time in the labor force, and they found that 15 years after
graduation women lawyers earned only 60 percent of what men earned
although they started out with nearly equal earnings. When women's shorter
hours were factored in, women still earned 20 percent less than men, an
The Fair Pay Act is one partial remedy. Supporting pay equity studies in
state government is another. Valuing the jobs done disproportionately by
women is another (teaching, child care, nursing come to mind) for they are
no less important than parking cars or painting buildings.
June M. Kimmel
from: Jewish Women Leaders Online
UNTITLED PIECE BY PHYLLIS CHESLER.
As a founder and Board member of the International Committee for Women of the
Wall, I have been suing the state of Israel on behalf of Jewish women's religious and
human rights for more than a decade. I know that Israel has not lived up to my ethical
and feminist expectations. Still, it breaks my heart to read what pro-peace,
progressive, and feminist Jews have to say, both in the Diaspora and in Israel. They
condemn the "Israeli aggression and occupation," express compassion for the plight
of the Palestinians, who are endangered by their own leaders, but have few kind or
comforting words for Israeli Jews, who are also at the mercy of our leaders, and of a
world that still hates Jews.
Daily, I receive email from Jerusalem civilians, whose movements are restricted, who
have been forced to cancel housewarmings, relocate B'nai Mitzva and weddings,
travel in terror to pay shiva calls under armed guard. "The situation is scary and
getting scarier" one woman writes. "I am in a state of national despair" says another.
"But if I publish what I'm thinking, I will be accused of being right-wing, of deserting
the cause of peace." My friends are frightened, and feel isolated. The hotels are
empty, the tourists safely elsewhere. Some say it feels "like 1948," others, "like
1929." Although Israel is now a major military power, every Israeli is either related to,
or works with someone who is related to, one of the 28 Israeli Jews who, as of
September 28th, have been kidnapped, blown up, stabbed, shot, lynched, or badly
I have been fighting anti-Semitism, sometimes disguised as anti-Zionism, since 1971,
when I first encountered it on the American Left and among radical feminists. I also
worked at the United Nations and saw, first-hand, how Israel was demonized and
scapegoated by tyrants, and by those whose nations had offered no asylum to Jews
during the Holocaust.
I am troubled by the international condemnation of Israel, the increased world-wide
incidents of anti-Semitism, the desecration of Jewish holy sites, Torah scrolls, and
siddurim in Europe, and in North America, and in Israel, and by one-sided anti-Israel
media coverage, but I am more troubled by the hardening of sophisticated,
assimilated, Diaspora Jewish hearts towards Israel's Jews.
As Jews, we cannot escape Jewish history. Thus, as Jews, can't we find it in our
hearts to feel and express compassion for other Jews, as well as compassion for the
strangers in our midst, the enemies at our gate? Dare I ask: as Jews, aren't we
obligated to care about other Jews first, not last?
It is psychologically suicidal for Jews to damn the Israelis for having been totally
unprepared for and unable to contain armed riots, or for trying to exercise (imperfect)
restraint under attack--and, at the same time, to "understand" and forgive the
Palestinian and Arab leadership their every excess, including that of kidnapping,
torturing, lynching, and murdering Jews, terrifying innocent civilians, burning Israeli
synagogues and Jewish holy sites, destroying siddurim and Torah scrolls, restricting
Jewish travel, causing what I suspect will be the largest epidemic of Post-Traumatic
Stress syndrome among Israelis since the Gulf War, and condemning the Palestinian
people to death, in a Holy Jihad, and to certain, agonizing, poverty.
Those Jews who share the PLO's view of reality, are still Jews, and will not be
spared our collective Jewish fate simply because we are so progressive, i.e. are
such "good Germans." The mobs of 2000 Palestinian men and boys who throw
rocks and Molotov cocktails, shoot bullets, detonate explosives, and advance on
Jews, do not distinguish between pro-PLO Jews and anti-PLO Jews. The leaders of
Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Authority, hate us whether we, as Jews,
argue the Palestinian cause among our own people, or don't. These leaders do not
seem to want peace, only a permanent war with the Jews.
Since September 28th, at least 238 people have been killed in Israel and the
territories. Among them were 201 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs, and 24 Israeli Jews.
The world mourns Arab and Moslem deaths--only if the dead are mainly men, and
have died at Jewish hands.
But not otherwise.
For example, many Jewish and non-Jewish feminists have exposed the tragic fate of
Moslem women at the hands of Moslem fundamentalist men in North Africa--who
kidnap female children as sex- and domestic- slaves, gang-rape, impregnate, and
then kill them; the violent Islamic gender apartheid in Afghanistan and Iran; the
clitoridectomies, arranged marriages, and male "honor-killings" of sister or a
daughter who has been raped--in Ramallah, Nablus, Nazareth, Gaza, as well as all
over the Islamic Middle East and Central Asia.
In the name of Islam, fundamentalist men kill thousands of Moslem women each
year. Last year, in Pakistan alone, more than 1000 such killings were recorded. In
1998, a seventeen year old Jordanian girl became pregnant after being raped by her
father's friend. Her father and brother did not shoot the rapist--they shot her eight
times and left her for dead. After receiving medical care, she was sent to jail for her
own protection. Supported by Queens Nur and Rania, demonstrations against "honor
killings" have taken place in Jordan. With twenty countries abstaining, (among them,
China, Russia, Jordan, and Pakistan), the United Nations has just passed a
watered-down condemnation of such killings. However, the world does not
shudder in revulsion, nor does any nation insist that the Security Council send UN
troops to keep the women safe.
I am certainly in favor of ongoing progressive, feminist dialogue among Jewish and
Arab Israelis and our Palestinian counterparts to "talk peace." I applaud the efforts of
Nabila Espanioly of Nazareth, Hannah Safran of Haifa's Isha L'Isha in this regard. I
am in favor of anyone meeting anywhere for as long as it takes to "talk peace."
However, as women, as feminists, as mothers, we do not control the armed forces,
nor do we represent synagogue or mosque. We have in common only our own
marginality within our tribes.
Just as Women of the Wall pride ourselves on being a multi-denominational prayer
group, I am suggesting that Jews of all political persuasions now come together in
this time of Jewish crisis. Yes: the Israeli government is imperfect--but it is composed
of human beings. As Jews, we should not have one standard for Jewish imperfection,
another, much lower standard for Moslem and Christian imperfection.
My Jewish feminist sisters and brothers: Moslem, Arab, and Palestinian leaders, if
not the people, truly hate us. They have persuaded their own long suffering people
into believing that their poverty and second-class citizenship is due entirely to Israel,
and to the United States, not to their own despotic and corrupt rulers. The leaders of
Hamas and Hezbollah and Chairman Arafat, hate us whether we, as Jews, argue the
Palestinian cause among our own people, and they hate us when we don't. These
leaders do not seem to want peace, only a war unto death with the Jews.
Therefore, as we criticize the Jewish state, and espouse peace, can Jews remember
to love other Jews as well as our enemies?
Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a psychologist and expert witness, is the author of nine books,
including Women and Madness and Letters to a Young Feminist. Together with
Rivka Haut, she is editing Claiming Sacred Ground, an anthology, by the Jerusalem
and Diaspora leaders of Women of the Wall, to be co-published by the Hadassah
Research Institute on Jewish Women at Brandeis University and the University Press
of New England.
The Genesis and the position of woman
The Israel Interfaith Association co-organized a study evening about
"The Genesis and the position of woman" in the Jewish-Arab Center in
Jaffa on 24 Jan. 2001, with the participation of some 40 women who
came in spite of the strong rain.
The reform rabbi Mira Raz, Tel Aviv, started the evening with the
note, that today would be the first day of the Jewish month of Shvat.
In this month the Jews think over the dynamics and renewal of the
nature. Human beings have this power inside them and they should be
encouraged for renewal and change in their own life. After that she
introduced verses from the Genesis, which tell about the equality of
woman and man in the garden Eden. Woman and man should to be one
unity. Independence and equality of woman leads the world in the
paradisiacal direction. In creation the human being was divided into
male and female and in the course of world-history all divided should
be connected by emotions and thoughts to one unity. If god is one,
the human being has to be one unity in a spiritual way. This is a
very important aspect in the current political conflict in the
Reverend Barbara Meyer described the Christian aspects of the theme:
Typical of the Christian tradition is the meaning of Eve as a symbol
of sin. Just the period of Enlightenment brought the realization
that the culture started by women. So from this time the suppression
of women was seen as a sin. Barbara Meyer stressed to the fact, that
god created the human being, man and woman alike, in his image.
The Muslim speaker, Ms. Widad Masalha, emphasized, that she was
speaking as a lay-person. She referred to the different traditions
in Islam about the position of women: The story of the creation of
woman from a rib of the man (when Adam got bored in the garden of
Eden) stands beside the tradition in the Koran, that god created
the "humankind", several couples of man and woman in equality.
The Koran describes both sexes in the feminine term "Nafs", that
means soul. Every human being can lead his or her genealogy back
to Adam and Eve and so he or she has a share in this first human
couple. After that Widad Masalha pointed out some "mistakes" in
the understanding of Islam:
- Men wrote the history of research in favor of their own
- The fact that many statements are borderline cases was not considered. For
example: A minimal heir of woman is indeed fixed in the Koran, but this is the lowest
limit, not the rule.
(The study evening was supported by the United Religions Initiative)
(The report was written by Judit Haar)