TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stirred controversy on Monday after he accidentally referred to women as "animals with rights" in a bumbling speech.
The incident occurred on Monday when the PM was delivering an address during an event to mark the occasion of 'International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women', according to Times Of Israel.
Netanyahu, normally a consummate orator, was speaking at a conference at the Knesset on stopping violence against women. Trouble began after the Prime Minister said, “Women don’t belong to you, women are not an animal you can hit.”
Presumably realizing this would not go over well, particularly with his wife, Sara, who was sitting on stage with him, he added, “And today we say you don’t hit animals either.”
Perhaps he should have stopped there, but after a long pause, as he searched for the right words, he pushed on. “We understand (animals) have insight and there is intelligence and there is cognition and animals have feelings,” he said.
“We are rightfully compassionate toward animals, we really connect to this,” he said, again gesturing toward his wife.
It may be noted that the Netanyahu family famously adopted a rescue dog, Kaia, which made headlines for biting several people, including the Prime Minister.
“So, if we are compassionate toward animals — women are animals. Children are animals. Animals with rights and this matter needs to pass from the world and I hope we don’t see these shocking things,” he finally concluded.
Violence against women is a major problem for women across the world and the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rampant spike in cases across the world. At such a time, Netanyahu's comments are earning him criticism on social media after a clip of his speech went viral. Many claimed that comments amounted to vapid misogyny as they likened domestic violence to animal abuse.