On the eve of International Women’s Day, Likud MK Oren Hazan interrupted Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) in the middle of her plenum address Tuesday to admonish her for wearing an ostensibly immodest sleeveless outfit.
Shaffir was responding to remarks made against her by David Amsallem (Likud) when Hazan rushed to the podium, yelling at Deputy Knesset Speaker Nava Boker (Likud), “If I were to go up (to the podium) wearing a tank top, would they allow me to speak?”
After Shaffir finishing speaking, Boker said she agreed with her colleague’s critique. “In this case, you are correct,” she said to Hazan. “I think this is a lack of respect for the Knesset.”
“Unfortunately, these are rules that probably can’t be enforced on parliamentarians,” she added.
Shaffir was further berated upon stepping down from the lectern by a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas faction, who characterized her outfit as “inappropriate.”
Later, Shaffir took to Twitter to voice her displeasure with Hazan’s outburst. “In honor of Women’s Day, two MKs, one a past pimp and the other from a party that prohibits women from contending, scolded me for wearing a dress with uncovered shoulders,” she wrote bitterly. “Happy holiday to everyone.”
Shaffir was referencing a 2015 Channel 2 report alleging that Hazan smoked crystal meth and pimped prostitutes for guests at a casino he once ran in Bulgaria.
Hazan filed a libel lawsuit against Amit Segal, the Channel 2 journalist responsible for the report, but it was rejected by a Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court last October. While the presiding judge said that the evidence was strong enough to prove that the lawmaker had indeed used crystal meth, the pimping claims could not be fully corroborated. Regardless, it was ruled that Segal had sufficient evidence to be protected under freedom of the press.
The Likud parliamentarian was interviewed on the tank top outburst later Tuesday evening on Channel 10, but the exchange began on a rather odd note.
Hazan expressed his disappointment that the reporter, Rafi Reshef, was unable to attend his wedding last month. Reshef responded that there must have been a misunderstanding, as he was not invited.
Eventually getting back on topic, Hazan contended that “sometimes there are places where we need to maintain respect, also in [the way we] dress.”
Shown photos of other MKs across the political spectrum wearing similarly shoulder-exposing outfits. Hazan said that he would have responded the same way had he seen such garb in person.
The Knesset dress code has been a source of controversy over the past several months. In November, the Knesset issued revised regulations on appropriate attire for employees and visitors, banning T-shirts, shorts, sandals and short dresses or skirts.
The decision was followed by a December protest of some 30 female parliamentary aides in solidarity with a number of colleagues who were denied entry into the Knesset due to dresses that guards deemed too short.
In one dramatic show of solidarity, Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union) removed his jacket and shirt and tried to enter the building wearing just an undershirt and trousers. “Tomorrow you will all be wearing burqas,” he shouted to the protesters.
Following the performance, Edelstein ordered Knesset guards to relax the rules on acceptable attire and not turn away employees based on skirt length until the panel made its final recommendation.
לרגל יום האישה שני ח"כים, הראשון סרסור בעברו והשני ממפלגה שלנשים אסור לרוץ בה, נזפו בי כי לבשתי שמלה חשופת כתפיים. חג שמח לכולן. pic.twitter.com/6JyCne0QkM
— Stav Shaffir (@StavShaffir) March 6, 2017
In late February, the Knesset announced that while it would not make any changes to the parliamentary dress code, a new “enforcement mechanism” would be introduced that will “include an issuing of warnings prior to the denial of entry to the premises.”
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.