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Lawmaker’s Story Turns Family Violence into National Issue

November 20, 1996

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Tired of tensions with Syria and stalled talks with the Palestinians, Israelis wanted to know only one thing this week: Did an Israeli lawmaker who advocated a crackdown on violence against women beat his wife?

Radio talks shows and newspapers discussed the Dayans’ domestic troubles for a fourth straight day Wednesday after Rachel Dayan filed _ and then withdrew _ a police complaint against her husband, Haim.

``The only thing that interests the country is Haim Dayan?″ asked the lawmaker from the right-wing Tsomet party, a coalition partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

``There are more important things to focus on,″ Dayan, a former policeman, told Israel army radio.

Women’s rights activists disagreed, saying the case put the issue of family violence, long a serious problem in Israel, into the spotlight.

The women’s rights group Naamat estimates that one in four Israeli women have been or will some time be assaulted by their partners.

Dayan had been a leading proponent of a crackdown on wife abuse. He once said that to discipline wife abusers ``I would slice their hands to pieces so that it would be the last time they raised their hand to a woman.″

The Dayans appeared on Israeli television together earlier this week. Haim denied the allegations and a visibly uncomfortable Rachel said she was dropping charges because of concern her four children would be exposed to unpleasant details of what she said was a shaky and abusive 11-year marriage.

``He pushed me and tried to throw me out of the house,″ she said on Channel 2 TV, adding that she still loved her husband. But when he said ``We both made mistakes,″ she shot back: ``YOU made a mistake.″

Although the couple refused to discuss further details of the alleged violence, Rachel’s mother, Jacqueline Dadon, said her daughter had been physically and verbally abused throughout her marriage.

``Her hair would be ripped out, she had scratches, there were blue marks on her shoulder and leg,″ she told Channel 2.

Police still are investigating the accusations and Israel radio reported they will question doctors who examined Mrs. Dayan during hospital visits after fights with her husband.

The affair surfaced during a week in which the Supreme Court authorized the use of physical force during the interrogations of two suspected Palestinian militants, and a televised tape showed Israeli troops beating Palestinian laborers.

Some drew a direct line between violence in the home and against Palestinians. ``We are involved in a long struggle with our neighbors,″ said Simcha Landau, an Israeli criminologist. ``If you are involved in aggression outwardly, soon or later it will come back to the society.″

Lawmaker Yael Dayan, the daughter of former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and no relation to Haim, who heads the Woman’s Status Committee, said 90 percent of women killed every year in Israel are murdered by family members.

Landau said many Israeli men witness violence all around them during mandatory tours of reserve duty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. ``Men bring this home,″ he said.

Naamat spokeswoman Carmel Eitan said the Dayan affair is typical of calls the organization’s hotline receives every day.

``The level of violence and anger (in Israel) is very high ... and this influences the family situation,″ she said.

``Too many people have weapons, and we live in a very macho, military society,″ Eitan said.

Landau agreed: ``Israelis still live by the sword.″

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