February 22, 2019

Fighting for Equal Rights to Be Seen

“Women’s faces are vanishing from billboards in some Israeli cities. In Bnei Brak, the municipality has been accused of banning women from appearing on street signs. Tzipi Livni, Yesh Atid and Meretz have condemned the municipality and the growing culture of intolerance that is delegitimizing women in the run up to the national elections in April. The country must send a strong message that we will not tolerate the banning of women’s faces from public spaces. Special funds should be directed to protecting billboards from being defaced.

“This discrimination is prohibited by law and is blatant and an ugly exclusion of women from the public sphere. The decision is dangerous to Israeli society and to Israeli democracy,” Yesh Atid said in a statement on Sunday. A billboard that showed a variety of Center-Left candidates, including Tzipi Livni and Benny Gantz, appeared in Bnei Brak without Livni’s face.

“It’s not my face they want to remove, but the faces of you, the women of Israel, over 50% of the population,” Livni said in a statement. “The voices of you men and women that want Israel to be a liberal country with equality, in which women can speak, sing, stand on stage and lead this country,” she said.

Meretz has threatened to sue the municipality. “You must accept the possibility of women running in elections in Israel and allow them to advertise [their parties] in public,” a statement from Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said. “This is true even more so when the advertisement is respectful and not provocative.” She argued, like Livni, that it’s not just about banning the face of one candidate but about a larger culture that silences women and permits violence against them, erasing them from society.”

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