In an open letter to Ehud Barak published in The New York Daily News’s op-ed section, feminist activist Letty Cottin Pogrebin urged the new prime minister to increase the scant number of women in his cabinet.
Pogrebin told Barak to appoint women to the four remaining Cabinet posts. “Don’t claim there are no qualified women,” she wrote. “If qualifications mattered, Israel wouldn’t have had a Foreign Minister who can’t speak English, a Justice Minister who’s not a lawyer, or a Communications Minister too religious to own a television.”
Pogrebin listed other solutions, such as naming women to 50% of all remaining appointments, and appointing Colette Avital, the highest ranking female diplomat, as ambassador to the United States. Avital, whom Pogrebin calls “a sophisticated and articulate national spokesperson,” was passed over in the “coalition horse-trading” of the most recent election.
The letter circulated via e-mail to thousands of women in a matter of a few days this summer, and nearly 1,000 faxes arrived at the prime minister’s office from around the world. They are joining Pogrebin in her challenge to Barak: “If you are serious about creating a new day for Israel, now is the time to pay your mounting debt to half the population.”