We were all invited to be flies on a wall of the rich, powerful and famous this week. The recording of Yair Netanyahu and friends Ori Maymon and Roman Abramov exposed layers of filth that hardly suit their white-collar powerful fathers. In a few minutes of casual, post-lap dance conversation, the three amigos, led by Yair Netanyahu, discuss women, money and power; the Netanyhau Jr. going as far as pimping his former girlfriend to his mates.
More troubling than the conversation itself is PM Netanyahu’s response to it, accusing the media of public shaming in order to undercut his government. Wrong answer, Mr. Prime Minister. The right one would have been to feel shame, to take responsibility, to restate the values according to which the public would have expected you to raise your son.
Which raises a very legitimate question: what exactly were the values -regarding gender equality and women in general- on which young Netanyahu was raised. In the 11 years he has been in this position Binyamin Netanyahu has done nothing to advance women in Israel, he has no women in amongst his senior staff, one woman in the security cabinet, and only 4 women ministers out of 22 in his government. Do these actions portray a man who values women as an equal national resource?
If it’s OK for Yair Netanyahu to treat women like commodities, it’s OK for any street pimp to do the same. If it’s OK for Ori Maymon to keep kissing a woman after she repeatedly pushes him away, it shouldn’t surprise us when rapists in our society get off scot-free. The Netanyahus expect the Israeli public to dismiss these actions as wild teenage behavior (Yair is 25 at the time of the recording, mind you) but this night reeks of misogyny and sexual misconduct. Not just alcohol.
Over the years I’ve heard many powerful men speak about women. No matter whether their power was political, financial or religious, they all claim to know what women need and want. Many have even attempted to mansplain my own goals to me. When I hear how these privileged spawns refer to women, it is no wonder. It is so clear that they, and many like them, don’t think women have anything important to say anything worth listening to. Women are merely play-things. To them, women aren’t just objects. They are disposable.
There are many young men and women who are different. There are many who believe in and fight for equality and justice. But experience teaches us that power begets power. The young Netanyahu has been named as his father’s successor and a promising candidate on the Likud ballot. His friends are on their way to become tomorrow’s tycoons. The values they clearly didn’t see or learn at home, and failed to acquire through the educational system, are a great concern.
The fact that in the 21st century, we are still fighting against religious and political forces wanting to exclude women from the public sphere, testifies these men didn’t grow up in a society which demonstrates these values strongly enough. We must educate, infiltrate the system. We have a duty to future generations to have better people in positions of power. People who respect people. Leaders who respect women.