Israeli Army Asked to Explain Why Female Singer Show Was Nixed

Excluding Sarit Hadad so as not to offend religious male soldiers would be illegal; IDF says a number of singers were approached to perform for the Givati Brigade.

Alon Shafranksy

The attorney general has demanded an explanation after the army asked female singer Sarit Hadad to perform a free concert for Givati Brigade soldiers and then retracted the offer after she accepted.

Officials fear that Hadad’s offer was excluded so as not to offend religious male soldiers, some of whom adhere to the tradition barring them from listening to a woman singing.

If Hadad was excluded because she was a woman, this would “run counter to the principle of equality to which all public authorities in Israel are bound,” Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber wrote in the request for an explanation. “It would therefore be illegal.”

For its part, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s Office said a number of singers had been approached, including the one selected in the end, Moshe Peretz.

There were even efforts to have Peretz and Hadad sing together, the spokesman added.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s request for an explanation was sent Monday to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Military Advocate General Danny Efroni.

The inquiry followed news reports that Hadad’s appearance before 5,000 Givati soldiers, some of whom had served in the Gaza offensive, was scrapped by Givati commander Ofer Winter.

According to the IDF spokesman, efforts to have Hadad and Peretz perform together were not feasible, while Peretz was the soldiers’ choice. The IDF says a mixed troupe of male and female singers from the army’s education corps will be the warm-up act for Peretz.

Zilber said women were increasingly being excluded from public settings, a development the legal system and government had to eliminate. She asked the army to do “everything possible to integrate singing by women.”

The exclusion of women in a brigade that has traditionally served as a melting pot would offend many male and female soldiers, as well as all Israelis concerned about “the erosion of the common public sphere,” Zilber said. “These feelings also deserve to be protected,” as does the democratic character of the IDF and Israeli society as a whole, she added.