Couture war heats up in Knesset

Couture war heats up in Knesset

So much for skirting the law.

Dozens of female aides to Israeli lawmakers showed up to work at the Knesset in short skirts to protest the enforcement of an institutional dress code.

At least nine aides reportedly were refused entrance to the Knesset on Wednesday because guards told them their hems were too high.

The protest came after at least two parliamentary aides were detained for violating the Knesset’s dress code. The code is not new but its enforcement has been beefed up in the last few weeks.

Lawmaker Manuel Trajtenberg of the Zionist Union party reportedly removed his jacket and shirt and tried to enter the Knesset in his undershirt to support the women.

“You’ll all have to wear burkas!” he reportedly warned them.

Female Knesset guards have been tasked with enforcing the dress code after the Knesset director-general, Albert Saharovitch, issued a paper refreshing it about a month ago. The Knesset spokesman said the dress code was not made any stricter, but that guards have been instructed to enforce it in order to “prevent offense to any visitors and guests.”

According to the Knesset’s website, “entrance to the Knesset is permitted only in appropriate attire (no tank/spaghetti tops, cropped tops, shorts or 3/4 length trousers, ripped trousers, shirts with political slogans, short skirts and shorts dresses, flip-flops or open-back clogs).” The rules apply to people 14 or older.

One aide told the Jerusalem Post that a guard said skirts could not be more than two inches above the knee, though that requirement is not spelled out in the code.

The labor union representing the legislative aides reportedly has protested the enforcement of the dress code.

Some lawmakers argue that their aides’ clothes are fashionable and appropriate. “I completely support the protest of the parliamentary aides because it is a battle that concerns all of us, the struggle not to be measured according to the length of the skirt,” said Zionist Union lawmaker Meirav Michaeli, whose aide was barred from the building last week, in an interview with Haaretz. “I am in favor of respectable appearance, but we must differentiate between respectable appearance and modest appearance. ‘Dress code’ cannot be an outmoded method for objectifying women.”

The Knesset spokesman told reporters that the protest was “nothing more than an orchestrated provocation that disrespected everyone.” JTA Wire Service

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