This is About More than Kavanaugh

27 September 2018

There is a spectacle unfolding in Washington, DC as I write this. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, now accused of sexual misconduct by three women, is preparing to testify about one of these allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He will do so right after one of his accusers, Professor Christine Blasey Ford, is questioned under oath by a female prosecutor hired by Republican senators.

The media has been building towards this moment since Professor Ford’s allegations came to light last week. The stakes are high. What happens today may have a profound influence on the composition of the Supreme Court, and thus the future of the United States of America.

It is also a big test for America of 2018. Our society, following the rise of the #MeToo movement, has moved with unprecedented (yet still insufficient) pace to hold sexual predators accountable. Our society is in the midst of a public reckoning with two clear outcomes:

First, we have come to terms with the fact that sexual assault and harassment are very common in our society — in every part of our society — and that the positions of power are regularly abused.

Second, we have changed our norms. It is no longer acceptable that these transgressions be swept under the rug. Abusers must be held accountable.

Having seen these advances, I am troubled by what’s unfolding in Washington. We have not seen any serious investigation of these allegations, and as of yet, no meaningful delay of the scheduled vote on the confirmation. Rather, this White House and most Republican Senators are simply treating these allegations with dismissiveness, incredulity, and disdain.

I do not know if they will succeed in sweeping the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh under the rug. And I have no inside knowledge about the character or the actions of that man. I do know that this moment is showing us that — for as much as #MeToo has achieved — there are still powerful regressive forces that want to turn the clock back.

It is a humbling reminder of how much more we have to do.

This edition of NIF News includes a story about a powerful victory that NIF-backed organizations achieved for the standing of women in Israel. A radio station, commissioned by the government to serve the ultra-Orthodox community, had refused to allow women’s voices on the air. Their discrimination reinforced the norm in which men’s voices were more important than those of women. Subtly, listeners were exposed to a reality in which no woman could have an opinion worthy of being expressed on the air. No woman could ask a politician a hard question. No woman could offer an explanation on a matter of public interest.

Our efforts helped to end these practices, to bring women’s voices back to the airwaves. Now we have a court ruling with an unprecedented one million Shekel fine to send the message that women in Israel must be treated as equal to men.

And yet I know that in the Israel of 2018, just as in the United States of 2018, there are powerful forces who view this progress merely as a threat to their regressive agenda.

It is a humbling realization. It reminds me of how much more work we have to do.