Haredi party chief calls Yisrael Beytenu ‘antisemitic’ over anti-vandalism law

Moshe Gafni decries Yulia Malinovsky’s amendment, increasing fines for vandals who deface images of women in public to NIS 30,000

UTJ MK Moshe Gafni reacts during a session in the plenum hall of the Knesset, on July 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
UTJ MK Moshe Gafni reacts during a session in the plenum hall of the Knesset, on July 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The leader of an ultra-Orthodox party branded the Yisrael Beytenu party as “antisemitic” during a Wednesday Knesset session, after a lawmaker from the right-wing coalition party said vandals who deface images of women in public spaces are similar to the Taliban.

“What interests them is to build a Taliban state. First of all, they vandalize and exclude women from the public sphere,” Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky said before a preliminary vote on a law amendment that would increase fines on vandals who deface billboards with a sexist motive, to NIS 30,000 ($9,650).

“Whoever does this is degrading himself, hurts women and equality for women. Then it slides into segregation between men and women,” Malinovsky said.

“The extremist organization that took over Afghanistan banned women from riding bicycles. It forbade displaying figures of women in the public space. They decide what a woman should look like and at what length her sleeves should be,” she added.

Related: ‘This is not Kabul’: Israel struggles with extremists defacing images of women

Responding to the accusations, United Torah Judaism leader MK Moshe Gafni said: “She said Taliban and you did not respond? A Knesset member is standing here calling us the Taliban, and that’s okay? There is a party in the Knesset whose sole purpose is not to allow the ultra-Orthodox to live here.”

MK Yulia Malinovsky speaks during a committee meeting in the Knesset, October 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“What a disgrace that such an antisemite comes up [to speak] here! Taliban?! This is an antisemitic party. You’re antisemitic. Disgrace. Are we Taliban?” Gafni shouted across the plenum hall.

Following the heated exchange, the amendment passed its preliminary reading 49-33. It requires another three readings to become law.

Ultra-Orthodox protesters vandalize an election poster of Jerusalem mayor candidate MK Rachel Azaria in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood on July 26, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Gafni also charged Yisrael Beytenu with focusing on laws that mostly impact Haredi society, such as steep taxes on disposable plasticware, and new conditions for receiving daycare subsidies that effectively end them for thousands of full-time yeshiva students.

Malinovsky, responding to Gafni, said she couldn’t understand his resistance to the law.

“Whoever defaces billboards with women does not want a woman in the public space. The ultra-Orthodox should condemn it. Where does your rage come from?” she said.

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