In an unprecedented ruling, the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday banned a strip club from the Diamond Exchange District in Ramat Gan, after determining such establishments “should not be considered entertainment.”
Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen sided with the Ramat Gan city council’s bid to close down the club, which has been operating for the past 24 years, in an effort to make the neighborhood more upmarket.
The owner of the club, Eran Yerushalmi, was indicted in 2011 for operating it without a license but the authorities delayed judgment until to give him a chance to apply for a license. Yerushalmi did so, but his application was rejected — a decision he appealed.
Agmon-Gonen rejected Yerushalmi’s appeal, siding with the council and asserting the business should not be considered entertainment.
In her ruling, she said that strip clubs “for sexual arousal objectify women… and are not considered ‘entertainment’ at all.”
She added that even though the law requires that such clubs be licensed, they should not be condoned.
“The fact that the law requires the regulation of a sex business does not indicate that the law justifies such practices,” she wrote.
“These practices are degrading, objectify women and violate their dignity as human beings,” she wrote. “The entirety of the law is working to eradicate this.”
Though Monday’s ruling only pertains to strip clubs in Ramat Gan’s Diamond Exchange, it could be precedent-setting for future cases.
Ilan Luckfish, the lawyer for the club’s owner, slammed the court’s decision as “absurd” and asserted that “sexual entertainment is a form of entertainment.”
“It is not a strip club,” he told Israel Radio Tuesday, “but a peep show.”
Luckfish added there was no contact between the clients and the dancers and that the club should not be considered part of the sex industry.
“There are women for whom this is a way of expressing themselves,” he said. “There are some who dream of appearing in such shows.”
MK Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party, in a Facebook post, welcomed the decision and praised the judge for sending an important message.
“It is a brave and important statement about the nature of striptease,” she said. “It is not entertainment, nor something to be treated lightly. Rather it is an integral part of the sex industry.”