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A Woman’s Place

By Poll Watcher and Orna Coussin | Haaretz | June 17, 1998 | 2 pages

Incipient signs of disparities in voting patterns between men and women in Israel have been found in a study conducted by an American polling expert Craig Charney, who was a strategic adviser for the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996. Charney is in Israel this week at the invitation of the Israel Women’s Lobby to present his findings and to explain to a generally indifferent Israeli public the principles of the gender gap.

Charney is also holding a series of meetings with politicians and would-be politicians (including Communications Minister Limor Livnat, Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna and businesswoman Pnina Rosenblum) to advise them on how to approach women in the electorate. In the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign, Charney identified the issues that were important to women including education, freedom of choice on abortions, and assistance with day care- and adjusted Clinton’s campaign accordingly.

“If the franchise were restricted to men only,” Charney says, “Bob Dole would be president today.” About 55 percent of American women voted for Clinton, as compared with 45 percent of the men, Charney notes, because Clinton advocated positions that support women’s interests.

In Israel, he says, such issues are only beginning to penetrate the public consciousness, and the country is still well behind Britain, France and the United States on this score.

His current survey in Israel has yielded two conclusions, Charney says. First, women in Israel are definitely an “interest group,” and second, candidates seeking election would do well to appeal to that group if they want to go far.

In a survey that examined a sample of about 800 men and women, Charney found that Israeli women are more peace prone than men. For example, 34 percent of the women polled said they support a 13 percent pullback in the West Bank, as compared with 25 percent of the men.

Women are less satisfied than men with the Netanyahu government’s performance in government’s performance in education (51 percent of women gave the government a negative rating, compared with 36 percent of the men). And, if faced with male and a female mayoralty candidates possessing the same qualifications, 35 percent of the women but only 19 percent of the men would vote for the female candidate.

Intriguingly, the survey also found that 46 percent of women lack any form of feminist consciousness and believe that “women have made enough progress and have nothing to complain about.”

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