A former judge doubled down Friday on remarks regarding the appearance of a host for Israel’s main Independence Day ceremony following rebukes from the court system and a number of prominent female lawmakers.
In a deleted Facebook post, Oded Aligon criticized Linor Abargil, an Israeli beauty queen and ex-model, who wore a head covering and a fitted dress during Wednesday’s national torch lightning ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Abargil, a lawyer, is an activist against sexual violence who has shared her experience of being raped just weeks before being crowned Miss World in 1998. She has become religious in recent years and wears a head covering in accordance with modesty customs.
“The presenter is wearing a multi-story fez on her head, as is required of observant women who keep the commandments,” wrote Aligon, who sat on the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court.
“On the other hand, her tight dress highlights her breasts that are proudly displayed for the glory of the State of Israel, in order to please the hearts of our secular brothers and also apparently to create a feeling of unity in the nation,” he added.
Despite the criticism and media attention over his remarks, Aligon refused to apologize in a series of interviews Friday evening with Israeli television and said Abargil should not have hosted the ceremony.
“She was raped. It’s true, it’s sad, it’s unfortunate,” Aligon told Channel 13 news. “But it is irrelevant. You don’t let a woman present a program like this because [she was raped]; there should be other reasons.
“I think a woman who wears a head-wrap on the hand one and on the other goes around with a tight and very sexy dress — there is some hypocrisy,” he added.
Earlier Friday, Culture Minister Miri Regev, whose ministry was responsible for organizing the ceremony, came to Abargil’s defense.
“Linor, your headwrap is a crown of tradition on your and our heads. You represent the good and beautiful in our society and I am simply proud of your choice,” Regev said in a statement quoted by Hebrew media.
“I’m sorry for those who speak so pompously about accepting the other but in practice all they desire is to preserve the elite to which they belong and with this continue to divide our nation,” added Regev, who did not mention Aligon by name.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Likud MK Sharren Haskel also came out in support of Abargil, with both posting photos of themselves wearing head coverings on social media.
“The choice of a woman to put a covering on her head is personal, individual and above all hers, and not anyone else’s,” Haskel wrote on Twitter.
6/6 נשים, תזכרו את זה לפני שאתן מחליטות עבור מישהי אחרת מה נכון או מה יפה לה. pic.twitter.com/EDylaAxZIb
— Sharren Haskel השכל שרן (@SharrenHaskel) May 9, 2019
Israel’s court system also put out a strongly-worded statement distancing itself from Aligon.
“This is a shameful and unfortunate statement by a retired magistrate [court] judge who retired 13 years ago,” it said.