Several days ago, it was reported that Lauren Boebert, a Republican representative, was escorted out of a performance in her native Denver. Sbe was accused of being too loud, causing a disturbance and recording the show against theater policy. Boebert is known for her brash style: She had previously heckled President Biden during his State of the Union speech.
In the meantime, Israelis were treated to a rare sight: Loudmouth Likud Knesset MP Tali Gottlieb was put in her place following an outburst during the Supreme Court hearings on the unreasonableness law. Another woman, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, said to her: “You’re a lawyer; you should know that here in the court system that sort of behavior is out of place.” Gottlieb is known for such public statements as “The blood of the murdered is on the hands of the Attorney General” (for refusing to allow administrative detention within the Green line), as well as espousing rabble-rousing conspiracy theories about the “deep-left state.”
How did we get these boorish women popping up in our news feeds? I believe the fact that both are members of the political right has something to do with their persona. The rise of powerful women within the Republican, “family values” party is a relatively new phenomenon, and while the Likud has long had a percentage of female members, these women still find the Knesset to be an old boys club. The ultra-religious parties have no women, the national religious have a few token ones. Backslapping and secular male MPs petitioning the reigning rabbis are still a thing.
To survive in this environment and stake your position as both a powerful woman and a leading member of the crazy right, you’d pretty much have to be loud. Boebert seems to have taken a page from the Trump playbook, in which any news coverage is positive coverage; while Gottlieb appears to emulating another loudmouth, MP Miri Regev, who has stuck around in middling leadership positions even as others, like Ayelet Shaked and Tzipi Hotovely, have slid from view.
Somewhere along the line, they both got the idea that it’s good to simply yell out whatever comes into their heads, wherever they may be, as long as cameras are involved. Boebert smiled for the police escort; Gottlieb may not be a general, but she’s darned if that’s going to stop her from making all-too-public declarations on the effects of the pilots’ refusal to show up for training exercises.
Let’s call it calculated craziness. They are “speaking to their base (base being a new Hebrew term used by pundits to explain the motive behind inflammatory language or actions by the political extremes).”
Gottlieb has carved a base out of those who are ready to believe that the masses who show up to weekly demonstrations are “anarchists;” who think that universities, the army and the courts themselves are elite bastions of left-wing intrigue, out to subvert our government, enforce group-think and control the economy.
Gottlieb may not be a general, but she’s darned if that will stop her from making all-too public declarations on the effects of the pilots’ refusal to show up for training exercises
I have to admit I am conflicted about these women. Once upon a time, we had hoped that having more women in leadership positions would bring about a change in the very nature of that leadership. And we did get some amazing women here who have made strides. In Israel today, some come immediately to mind: Esther Hayut, who reminds us that there are not only rules of conduct, but reasons to obey those rules; MP Karine Elharar, who has consistently stood for rationality and equal representation in government; Pnina Tamano-Shata, a proud African-Israeli woman; and Communist MP Aida Touman-Suleiman, an outspoken feminist and political survivor.
And we also have MP Tali Gottlieb and her mouth; MP Idit Silman, who brought down the last government because it was not right-wing enough; and MP Orit Strock, who is so far right on the political map, she has no qualms about bilking the country’s taxpayers out of millions in order to fund the Jewish version of the Proud Boys.
These are not just women playing on a field planted by men, they are all women who have managed to stand out, each in their own way. Standing out, however, is not an aim in and of itself. Women who succeed know that they must sometimes behave badly to get ahead. But there are also basic rules of polite public conduct, and there are reasons to live by those rules. Making noise in a theater will not win you my vote; yelling out from the gallery during an important judicial hearing will not endear you to me.
Women of power, here is my New Year’s wish for you: May your voice be like the Shofar: It may well sound loud and discordant, but at the right time, it can bring great joy and clarity. Used in the wrong way, you’re just tooting your own horn.