03 November '16..
J Street's controversial response to the sexual harassment of one of its staff members raises questions as to whether its attitude toward women's rights is compromised by its political goals.
After J Street learned, in 2014, that one of its staff members had been sexually harassed, it terminated its relationship with the harasser, Israeli journalist and Palestinian state advocate, Ari Shavit. But J Street has now admitted that it never said a word about Shavit's behavior to the other Jewish groups that have been organizing Shavit's speeches around the country.
J Street's two-year silence on the abuse of an American Jewish woman was wrong. J Street's silence about the abuse of Palestinian women is wrong, too, and both situations may well be related.
J Street's central mission has been to bring about creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel. One of the reasons many Israelis are skeptical about that proposal is that "Palestine" would be a brutal totalitarian state. Israelis understand that brutal totalitarian states often invade neighboring countries.
If Israelis believed a Palestinian state would be a tolerant, pluralistic, democratic state, where the rights of minorities and women were protected, creating such a state would seem a lot less threatening to Israel.
So, yes, Palestinian women's rights matter. They matter because it's a question of justice and equality. And they matter because the issue reveals a lot about what kind of neighbor a Palestinian state would be.
Yet, just as J Street refused for two years to speak out about the mistreatment of a Jewish woman on its staff, it has refused to speak out about the mistreatment of Palestinian women by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
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Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.
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