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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 20, 2012 Don't set back reproductive rights for Israeli women By Shaft Eshet JERUSALEM (JTA)--In 1979, I moved from the United States to Israel, where I discov- ered that unlike in America, reproductive choice in Israel was by and large not an is- sue-not religiously, politically or socially. As the director of the Is- rael Office for the U.S.-based National Council of Jewish Women for the past 17 years, I was always grateful and surprised that with all the problems regarding women's fights in Israel, the consensus on abortion was to leave well enough alone. I'm hoping that is not about to change. At the moment, birth control and abortion services are not By Marcie Natan NEW YORK (JTA)Pride and chagrin: It's rare that the two emotions are experienced simultaneously. But that is how we are feeling at Hadassah. We feel pride because women now hold three of our top professional positions: Janice Weinman is our new execu- tive director and CEO; Osnat Levtzion-Korach is the new director-general of Hadassah University Hospital-Mount Scopus in Israel; and Rabbi Ellen Flax is executive director of the $10 million Hadassah Founda- tion. And for the first time a woman, Esther Dominissini, chairs the boardofthe Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel, an influential role in Israeli hospital management. Of course, asa nationalwom- en's organization, our national presidents all have been women, our legal counsel is a woman, our Israeli office is headed by a woman, and female doctors head numerous departments PAGE 5A only legal but, in most cases, abortion is covered by health planswithasmallco-pay.Wom- en serving in the Israeli army are entitled to free birth control and abortions. But last month, Nissim Zeev, a member of the Israeli Knesset from the Shas party {the Sephardic religious party) submitted legislation seeking to limit abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy. Zeev claims that since tech- nology now allows life outside the womb at 22 weeks, preg- nancy termination after that is tantamount to"murder'a word he actually used. He went on to argue.that women are encouraged to end their preg- nancies for social reasons, and they later regrettheirabortions and suffer depression because of them. In effect, Zeev is following in the footsteps of the former chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who two years ago attacked the official committees that by law approve abortions. Eliyahu charged that "a million children have been cut down alive since the state [of Israel] was created." Luckily, the government opposes Zeev's proposal. Most political analysts agree it was merely a ploy to draw atten- tion away from issues such as drafting haredi Orthodox men into the Israeli army and end- ing gender segregation, both of which have roiled the waters between the haredi Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society. In Israel, all requests for a government-subsidized abor- tion through one's health plan are reviewed by a committee that includes a family doctor, a gynecologist and a social worker. Knesset member Za- hava Galon, who heads the left-of-center Meretz party, has drafted bills several times to eliminate all such commit- tees---an idea the government also opposes and habitually keeps bottled up in committee. Gaion describes attitudes to- ward abortion as ranging from "indifference, to resistance, toa desire to control thd right of a woman and her wish to decide her reproductive rights." These attitudes, she says, "allow the state to continue to define the decision-making process on the termination of pregnancy." Such views are also contested in the United States, where despite President Obama's support for abortion rights, congressional opponents suc- ceeded in severely limiting government-funded abortions covered by the new national health reform law. Since the 2010 election, states have en- acted a record number of laws intended to restrict or even eliminate access to abortion. While I appreciate.Galon's desire to make abortion even more accessible to all woman in Israel by doing away with the committee that reviews requests for a government- subsidized abortion, it is still the case that with commiRee approval, every Israeli's health plan covers abortion for most women between the ages of 18 and 42 for a small co-pay, and for free for women outside that age range. That is a stark More women are needed as leaders at both of Hadassah's hospital Civil Rights Act, we still lag in we should be. This is not to dis- companyexcellence)."Thesecri- campuses. On Capitol Hill and leadership, par-age the many excellent men teria include accountability and inlsrael, Hadassahcontinuesto Just 17 women hold seats in who hold leadership positions in innovation. A D-year study for advocate strongly for women, the U.S. Senate and 73 in the our Jewish and national life, but the European Project on YetdespiteHadassah'sstrong House of Representatives. Only wetakespecialpridewhenwesee Pay, conducted by Roy Adler of focus on women and the many six states have women as guy- women in those roles. Pepperdine University in the of us who serve in high-level ernors. The U.S. Conference of More important, we know 1980s and '90s, found a strong leadership positions, we also Mayorsreportsthatofthel,248 that women often bring a correlationbetweenprofitability feel chagrin because 100 years citieswithpopulationsexceeding different voice to the public and the number of women in after our founding, it remains 30,000, just 217 have female square. It was, for example, executive positions. all too unusual for women to mayors. The Fortune 1000 list only when women brought A201lstudybyMassachusetts hold top professional positions includesjust39wornenasCEOs, so-called women's issues to the InstituteofTechnologyreseawJa- in any organization. Things are no better in the workplace--increased mater- ersfoundthat"ifagroupindudes We want to set the model, Jewish world, where only two nity leave, for example--that morewomen, itscoUectiveintel- not to be the outlier. Salary- of the 20 largest Jewish federa- men, too, rightfully demanded iigence rises." basedandhiringdiscrirnination tions have women at the helm. paternity leave. We'vecertainlyseenthathap- againstwomenintheworkplace The Forward newspaper's most Women care about foreign penonournonprofitboards, but are still an issue, but there is recent salary survey shows that policy, but we also want to help we can't be truly effective until another dynamic at play. The women head just nine of 76 those in poverty in our own women hold more ofour profes- desire for a 'vork-life balance" nationalJewishorganizations.A country. Women care that the sional leadership positions. we hear so often about of late number of women have chaired United States has a strong mili- For years, women have had demonstrates just how compli- their local federations and, fi- tary, butwe also strive to enstire to buck a paternalistic society, cateditcanbeforwomentotake nally, a greatwoman now leads that health care and education particularlyintheJewishworld. timeawayfromtheirfamiliesto the umbrella organization for top priority lists. Yetwecan'tsolelyblarnesociety work---or away from their jobs the federations. But on the top Research has demonstrated for the low numbers of women to raise their children, staff level, it's just not the same. that gender diversity matters. A in leadership positions.We have Women comprise 51percent We need women in every 2007McKinseystudyfoundthat to hold ourselves accountable ofthepopulation,yetmorethan kind of leadership role, andeven "companies with three or more aswell. nine decades after we received though manywomenhave risen women in senior management Too often we've been content the vote, and nearly five de- through the ranks in recent functions score more highly on to sit back and let the men cades after the passage of the years, wearenowherenearwhere average (on nine dimensions of lead. We have been quiet at contrast to the situation in the United States. Israeli law, which incur- porates halachah, or Jewish law, makes abortion legal and justified in most cases. The U.S. pro-choice camp would love to have such liberal laws on the books. When I made aliyah, itseemed birth control and abortion rights were a done deal in the United States. I hope that re- mains the case despite ongoing attacks there.And for Israel, my wish is that Zeev and his allies find something else to oppose andleavewomen's reproductive rights at least as strong as they were when I arrived here more than threedecades ago. Shari Eshet is director of the National Council of Jewish Women's Israel office. board meetings and allowed the baritone voices of our male colleagues to overtake our own. If we want change, we must be its catalysts.We mustdemand that search committees try harder to find--and recruit women to fill top jobs. We must encourage women to run for office. We must insist that our nonprofit boards pay closer at- tention to the makeup of profes- sional staff--not just how many men and women are employed, but also the numbers of women in management and how their earnings compare with their male counterparts. If this sounds like affirmative action, or somethingthatmight have been written 30 years ago, sobe it. It is only when it is no longer novel to point to the first woman in a given position--or even the second or third--that we will have begun to achieve equality.- Marcie Natan ?g national president of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Jewish organizations, Others must stop interfering with Holocaust survivors' rights By David Mermelstein The JTA recently published an op-ed by Menachem Rosen- saftwhich gratuitously offers an "alternative" to the legislation that Holocaust survivors and children and grandchildren of survivors are seeking in Congress. The bills Rosensaft patronizingly calls "well-inten- tioned" are necessary to restore our rights to go to U.S. courts to recover insurance policies sold by AUianz, Generali, AXA, and other global insurers to our parents and grandparents which the companies dishon- ored after the Holocaust. We don't know who Mr. Rosensaftclaims to representin making this suggestion, but it most certainly is not speaking for Holocaust survivors or the families of Holocaust victims. We can speak and act for our- selves, andwe demandthe right to do so. This is something that over 100 members of Congress, on a bi-partisan basis, who are co-sponsoring HR 890 and S. 466, understand. Let's remember what this problem is all about. Insurance policies--private contracts that our parents and grand- parents paid for with the sweat of their brows. Contracts that the Companies charged and ac- cepted money in exchange for the promise to pay our parents and grandparents if something happened, and needless to say our families did lose every- thing. The companies profited from our families' misery, and no one, certainly not the World Jewish Congress or the Claims Conference, or any other of the groups now fighting us, lifted a finger to demand that the insurers make good on these legal contracts, until states like Florida, California, and New York took action in 1997- 1998. In the current legislation, survivors are demanding the same rights as every other American citizen to recover our family legacies. Who is Rosensaft to say we should be second-class citizens with regard to our ability to collect on these private insurance policies? Other than the companies' disgraceful conduct after the war, Rosensaft's history is almost entirely inaccurate. It was not until the California, Florida, and New York Leg- islatures passed laws to hold the companies accountable, that the insurance companies came up with the idea to create a 'Scoluntary" commission to publish names and pay claims. Everyone understood that this "international commission," called ICHEIC, was indeed voluntary unless a claimant accepted an offer for a policy. The insurers understood this, and so did the "Jewish groups" who participated.And, contrary to what Rosensaft's his op-ed states, there was no authorized representatives of Holocaust survivors on ICHEIC. when Rosensaft states that insurers ''were given assuranc- es backed by both the Clinton and Bush administrations that their participation in ICHEIC would insulate them from civil suits in U.S. courts," he simply wrong. It is well established in the public record that the U.S. government never promised the companies immunity from litigation for participating in ICHEIC. Every agreement the govern- ment entered i explicit on this point, i.e. that the agreements and underlying U.S. policy do not mandate dismissals of lawsuits against insurers. And, the court papers filed by the Clinton Administration after the U.S.-German executive agreement reiterated that the Agreement"does not predude individuals from filing suit on their insurance policies in court" and does not "mandate that individual policyholders or beneficiaries bring their claims in ICHEIC;" and that the U.S. "has not undertaken a duty to achieve legal peace for German companies against state litiga- tion." when several members of Congress asked the Clinton DOJ about the effect of the agree- ments, the Department stated: "the [position of] the United States... does not suggest that private claimants who wish to pursue suits against German companies are foreclosed from doing so." Even Stuart Eizenstat, who is supporting the insurers to- day-now that he is an offcer of the Claims Conference-- admitted in his 2003 book that: "The Germans and their lawyers-knew full well from monthsofexplanationsthatwe would not take a formal legal position barring U.S. citizens from their own courts:' In July 2010, the Justice De- partment produced documents to me under the Freedom of Information Act which admit- ted that the U.S. government never promised any insurer that their participation in ICHEIC insulate them from litigation, when Cong. Adam Schiff and the attorney for the Holocaust Survivors Founda- tion USA (Sam Dubbin) dted these papers inaCongressional hearing, DOJ wrote me another letter and demanded the docu- ments be returned! Needless to say, I refused. We are outraged that the governmentwould try to cover up the truth this way-- and that people like Rosensaft continue to perpetrate the lie. On the subject of "relaxed Rights on page 19A Dry Bones COM CAC-, E C.qR'TOON 8.COM