Israelis gush over lawmaker’s announcement of baby girl to be raised with gay father

Andrew Tobin

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israelis welcomed Knesset lawmaker Merav Ben-Ari’s announcement that she gave birth to a baby girl, whom she has said she will raise with the baby’s gay father.

Ben-Ari, 41, made the happy announcement on Facebook early Sunday, the first day of the Knesset’s spring break. Alongside a photo of her holding Ariel, her first child, Ben-Ari wrote a message thanking those who have expressed support for her.

“I don’t have much to write except thank you to everyone for all blessing and congratulations on the birth of Ariel our sweetie,” Ben-Ari wrote. “Wishing the return to everyone of all the good you wished and even more. A good and successful week to everyone.”

Within a few hours, the post had been liked more than 1,500 times and received several hundred supportive comments, like “What to wish the Knesset’s best voice for mothers?” and “I’m sure the father will also be amazing because otherwise you wouldn’t have chosen him.”

Ben-Ari, an unmarried Knesset member for the centrist Kulanu party, told JTA in October that she had been nervous to go public with her unconventional pregnancy. But she said the response from Israelis and her colleagues from across the political spectrum had been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s not easy here because most people know how a family is supposed to look: a mother, a father and children who live together,” Ben-Ari said. But “I got really, really good comments about the article, from politicians, from people I know, from people I don’t know.”

“I really want to inspire women not to be afraid of taking this step,” she added.

Ben-Ari and her close friend Ofir agreed in writing to try in vitro fertilization together and to raise the child as a team. A 41-year-old finance manager, Ofir, lives down the block from Ben-Ari in Tel Aviv and is in a relationship with another man. Ben-Ari said she planned to continue looking for love and to return to the Knesset for the start of the summer session in May.