A female Knesset aide was detained for an hour on Sunday morning for wearing a dress that guards deemed was too short.
Shaked Hasson, an assistant to Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, claimed that she was checked by security forces and held for breaching new guidelines on appropriate attire that ban miniskirts.
She was released after Michaeli personally intervened.
Hasson claimed that she was wearing a mid-thigh dress and leggings. She said that the guards apologized and explained to her that she was in breach of the dress code, according to Haaretz, which first reported the story.
She confirmed the story to The Times of Israel.
Michaeli said she was fine with the idea of a dress code, but accused the guards of humiliating her aide.
“I cannot agree with having modesty police stationed at the entrance to the Knesset,” she said on Facebook. “It is not acceptable that my assistant should have to stand at the entrance to the Knesset while her clothes are examined, being humiliated by guards who are checking her legs and deciding on the length of her dress. And it goes without saying that men don’t have to go through such checks on their bodies.”
A Knesset spokesperson said the incident had nothing to do with “modesty,” a term often used to denote dress deemed appropriate by religious authorities, but rather having a dress code.
“Having a dress code to enter the Knesset is normal practice and [similar codes] apply in parliaments all around the world,” Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir said.
He also said that the rules published last month, which banned miniskirts, short dresses, tank tops, shirts with political slogans and other attire, were not new but rather a clarification.
“Refreshing the dress code a few weeks ago was intended, as much as is possible, to clarify the existing rules but it did not include any significant changes to previous policy,” he said. “Moreover, members of the Knesset Guard were instructed to approach infringements with minimum damage to the sensitivities of visitors coming to the building.”
Yakir said the Knesset was investigating if Hasson was examined by female guards, as is stipulated in the rules.
“No excessive delay at the security entrance should take place in any case,” he said.
MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) spoke out on Facebook against the incident, protesting the Knesset’s obsession with women’s clothing.
She singled out Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who decides on appropriate attire for the Knesset building. “How was Shaked Hasson dressed? That is none of your business Yuli Edelstein. Get out of her wardrobe,” she wrote.
Yachimovich said the speaker permtted disgraceful activities in the parliament plenum, but being offended by skirt length.
She also accused the Knesset of being obsessed with dress codes for women, which she compared to victim-blaming.
“This includes recommendations and exhortations to ‘take responsibility,’ not to wear clothing which is too revealing nor to hang out in places ‘prone to violence.’ This is moralistic nonsense, with no connection to reality. It is designed to control women, certainly not to protect them,” she wrote.
In November, the Knesset issued a revised dress code for employees and visitors, banning miniskirts and short dresses.
The new conditions apply to all employees including custodians, parliamentary assistants, permanent employees, students and interns.
“Entrance to the Knesset is permitted only in appropriate attire (no tank/spaghetti tops, cropped tops, shorts or three-quarter length trousers, ripped trousers, shirts with political slogans, short skirts and short dresses, flip-flops or open-back clogs). These rules apply to adults and youth aged 14 and over, ” a notice on the Knesset website reads.