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‘Bikini ban’ for concerts in Israel

As French mayors order women to undress, Israeli authorities are going in the other direction with a new 'modest' dress code for performers at government-backed events

By Jon Chapple on 31 Aug 2016

Hanna Goor, Hagaugust

A bikini-clad Goor at Hagaugust on Friday


image © Hanna Goor

Israel is to introduce a dress code for performers at some live events following a ‘disrespectful’ performance by singer Hanna Goor at the Hagaugust festival in Ashdod last Friday.

Goor, a former contestant on Israeli singing contest Kokhav Nolad (A Star is Born), was asked to leave the stage after the Ministry of Culture and Sport, which funded the festival, ruled her attire – a bikini top, open shirt and shorts – did not “respect the general public that attended the show”.

In response, the ministry has announced it will issue guidelines to production companies working with it on taxpayer-funded concerts as to how ‘modestly’ performers should dress. “Festivals and events funded by public money will respect the general public, which includes different communities,” it said in a statement.

Although culture ministry officials deny Goor’s performance – which lasted just three songs – was cut short, the singer told Haaretz she was asked, mid-performance, to “get dressed”. When she refused, she says, “they took me down [from the stage]”.

“It wasn’t a provocation but simply a matter of comfort. It’s summer, it’s hot and we were at the beach”

Speaking to local newspaper Ashdodnet, she elaborated: “It wasn’t a provocation but simply a matter of comfort. It’s summer, it’s hot and we were at the beach.”

In an editorial, Haaretz accused culture minister Miri Regez of overstepping her remit in attempting to speak for “the entire public” and called the new dress code “the mirror image of France’s unconstitutional burkini law”, in reference to the attempted ban of the Islamic swimsuit, which covers almost the entire body, in a number of French cities.

Regev’s ministry, however, is keen to highlight a difference between “freedom of expression and freedom of funding”, inferring that no such ban will be extended to events not funded with government money.

Israel is defined in its declaration of independence as a “Jewish state”, though its founding father, David Ben-Gurion, was a atheist and a 2015 Gallup survey found 65% of Israelis described themselves as either “not religious” or “convinced atheists”. However, tensions exist between haredi (‘ultra-orthodox’) Jews – who dress conservatively, practice gender segregation and often even refuse to recognise Israel itself – and secular or non-religious Jews. Haredim, who make up 10% of Israel’s population, exert significant influence on Israeli public life, with their Shas party having been consistently in governing coalitions for over 30 years.

 


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