A small group of women disrupted a Knesset ceremony honoring singer Eyal Golan and others Tuesday, protesting plaudits presented to the pop star who in the past was investigated on suspicion of statutory rape.
As Golan took to the stage to receive an award for his contribution to music, the women began shouting that it was a “disgrace” to honor him.
The Knesset has come under pressure from womens’ groups and others over the award to Golan, a popular Mizrahi singer who was interrogated by the police in 2014 on suspicion that he engaged in sexual encounters with underage girls.
Golan denied the allegations and the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office later announced it would drop the charges due to lack of evidence
Likud party MK Nava Boker, who chairs the Lobby for the Promotion of Israeli Music and had arranged the event, defended Golan and reminded the hecklers that the investigation against Golan was dropped.
“To all the women who are shouting — this isn’t right,” she said. “He was cleared and doesn’t deserve this.”
Celebrity businesswoman and former MK Pnina Rosenblum also tried to call the protesters to order, telling them, “This is a person who was cleared.”
Knesset guards removed some of the protesters from the room and the ceremony continued with Boker presenting the award to Golan and then joining him in singing one of his own hits.
Golan’s public relations adviser Rani Rahav said in a statement, “It is permitted and legitimate to express protest. That is our democracy. It is the women’s right, but it should be polite.”
During the ceremony a minute of silence was held for singer, musician and actor Yigal Bashan, who died Sunday.
After invitations to the ceremony were issued last week, five female MKs asked Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to rescind Golan’s award, Hadashot television news reported last week.
The lawmakers told Edelstein that the award was particularly galling, coming at a time when attempts are being made in Israel to raise awareness of violence towards women.
“The recognition of the man as an esteemed artist spits in the faces of victims of sexual violence and it symbolizes that the Israeli parliament unequivocally prefers the attackers,” they wrote.
Edelstein declined their request saying the nomination process for the award was by a parliamentary lobby, not the Knesset, and therefore not under his control.