TEL AVIV – More than 30 parliamentary aides showed up to work at the Knesset Wednesday wearing miniskirts and dresses in protest after a few of their coworkers were barred from entering the building for being dressed “immodestly.”
Fifteen of them were stopped at the entrance by the Knesset Guard for wearing “inappropriate attire” that did not conform to Knesset dress regulations, which prohibit skirts that are shorter than five centimeters above the knee.
Famed economist and Zionist Union MK Manuel Trajtenberg removed his jacket and shirt after his female aide was asked to remove her coat so the length of her skirt could be assessed. Attempting to enter the Knesset in just a wife-beater and pants, Trajtenberg said “If I can enter the Knesset like this, so can you,” and was met with a round of applause.
The scene was recorded on film and Trajtenberg can be heard saying to the crowd of onlookers, “Tomorrow you will all be wearing burqas.”
מחאת החצאיות גרסת ח”כ מנואל טרכטנברג: התפשט ונכנס לכנסת. צפו pic.twitter.com/9e8TwQPSV1
— חדשות 2 (@Channel2News) 14 December 2016
Fellow Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich slammed the dress code. “Detaining parliamentary workers is very severe and constitutes an invasion of their privacy, in addition to being humiliating and aggressive,” she wrote. “The Knesset Speaker and his emissaries’ feigned innocence in claiming this is merely enforcing policy is truly hypocritical,” she added.
The protest followed an incident involving Shaked Hasson, aide to Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, who was stopped at the entrance to the Knesset the previous day on account of her outfit.
“We went outside to show support, and to say that the Knesset will not have a Taliban,” said Hasson on Wednesday.
“People should be able to enter without others measuring (a certain number of) centimeters above their knees,” she continued. “Today, we suddenly got a new directive from the visitors’ center, saying that the standard is up to 5cm above the knee. Well, it isn’t. This is outrageous and should not be the standard.”
Michaeli joined her aide in protesting, sending a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Yanun, and Legal Aide to the Knesset Administration Nurit Elstein.
“I turn to you with the intent of stopping the radicalization that is taking place at this very moment at the entrance to the Knesset building,” wrote Michaeli.
“The Knesset Guard’s enforcing of a dress code has gotten out of proportion,” continued Michaeli. “It harms the ability of both male and female MKs to do their jobs. I ask that you intervene to stop the harsh radicalization currently taking place, allow all advisers in and set up a meeting to clarify this matter.”
The Knesset responded to the protest, saying, “Today’s event was no more than a premeditated provocation that respected no one. Despite this, and as opposed to several reports on the matter, all aides were allowed to enter, apart from one. The women and men of the Knesset Guard standing at the entrance are dedicated to their work, which they do based on a dress code that has been used at the Knesset for years, which aims to protect the Knesset’s dignity and distinction.”
Six hours after the first woman was barred from entering the Knesset on Wednesday, the parliamentary aides were given permission to go in.
Following the protest, Knesset Speaker Edelstein announced that he would establish a task-force to reassess the current dress code.