Defense Ministry officials are requiring that companies who send representatives to conferences for soldiers in the demobilization process make sure that their employees do not wear revealing clothing – specifically tank tops and miniskirts – and have forbidden the companies to publish “immodest” pictures.
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Every year the Defense Ministry holds large conferences for thousands of soldiers who are about to conclude their obligatory army service through the Guidance Unit for Discharged Soldiers. During the conferences, the soldiers receive information about the possibilities open to them once they are discharged and the rights for which they are eligible. The conferences also contain a large exhibition area where companies have advertising booths.
There are two large areas at the conference site. One, devoted to studies, contains booths placed by companies that provide preparation for college entrance examinations, pre-college academies, universities, colleges and professional schools. The other area contains booths placed by HMOs, cellular telephone companies and banks, which try to attract the discharged soldiers, and job-placement companies and private firms looking for hires.
The instructions sent to these companies include a prohibition against showing “any immodest advertisement or image.” But it is not clear what constitutes an “immodest image” or who makes that decision. The people staffing the booths were forbidden to wear revealing clothing. The paper containing the instructions states: “Tank tops and miniskirts are included in this definition.”
Companies pay several thousand shekels for the right to place an advertising booth at the demobilized soldiers’ conference. Marketing personnel who received the instruction file wondered why they had to obey a dress code forbidding tank tops, for example, and why their advertising material could feature only images that were considered modest.
The Defense Ministry’s document also contained an explicit prohibition on any advertising that had anything to do, directly or indirectly, with staying abroad. The representatives in the exhibition space were warned that there was an “absolute prohibition on advertising in any way by companies whose businesses are connected, directly and/or indirectly, to studies and/or trips and/or work and/or living abroad.”
The demobilized soldiers’ conference takes place several times a year, around the dates of discharge for Israeli soldiers. Every soldier whose discharge date is up to three months after the conference date is invited through his or her unit. The conference is produced and hosted by the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel Aviv. The next conference is scheduled for November, and the following one will be in March.
Throughout the day the soldiers attend lectures that are obligatory – lectures about the National Insurance Institute, the Income Tax Authority, career development and so on. Afterward they have free time to wander among the booths, which usually give the soldiers gifts.
A spokesperson for the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center said that the center had no comment on the matter.
A Defense Ministry spokesperson commented: “Following complaints filed by traditional and/or religious soldiers who attended the demobilization conference, the Defense Ministry asked the companies advertising at the conferences (institutions of learning, professional training, employment and so on) to make sure to dress in a dignified manner. The reason was to allow all the soldiers about to be discharged to enjoy the benefits offered them as they begin civilian life without offending their sensibilities.”