'Immodest' Dress Sees Israeli Lawmaker's Aide Denied Entry to Knesset

Aide to MK Merav Michaeli said she 'felt humiliated' by an hour's inspection of her above-the-knee dress by male guards; she was allowed in only when Michaeli intervened.

A parliamentary aide was denied entry to the Knesset on Sunday when guards said her dress was immodestly short, and only allowed to go to work after her boss protested. 

Shaked Hasson, who works for MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), was delayed at the gate for about an hour, during which five different male guards examined her and said her dress was in violation of the Knesset’s dress code. The dress came to a little above her knees, and she wore stockings underneath.

Shaked Hasson, the parliamentary aide denied entry to the Knesset on December 11, 2016 on grounds her dress is too short.
Olivier Fitusi

The guards apologized to her but said they were obliged to deny her entry under the Knesset’s new, stricter dress code. The new rules, which apply to all Knesset employees, holders of permanent entry permits and visitors, were issued about a month ago by Knesset director general Albert Saharovich.

“One should not come to the Knesset in inappropriate clothing, such as undershirts, crop tops, shorts, short skirts or dresses, clogs and so forth,” the document said. “In addition, one should not come in clothing bearing political slogans.” However, it didn’t define what qualifies as a “short dress.”

In response to Haaretz’s questions, a Knesset spokesman said that only female guards are supposed to check women’s clothing, nor should anyone be delayed at the entrance for that long. He therefore promised that “the incident will be investigated, and if necessary, we’ll learn the lessons.”  

But he denied that the dress code had been made stricter. “They don’t talk about ‘modest dress,’ as you wrote in your question, but about upholding the accepted dress code at the entrance to the Knesset,” he said. “The dress code was indeed revised recently, but wasn’t made stricter.”

The revisions, he continued, were meant “to clarify, insofar as possible, ambiguities that existed in the past,” but didn’t substantively change the code in any way. If anything, he insisted, the code was softened, since Knesset guards were told to enforce it while also “displaying sensitivity” and trying “to prevent, insofar as possible, hurting visitors’ feelings.”

That certainly doesn’t reflect Hasson’s experience. 

“When I arrived at the employee entrance this morning, the guard stopped me and told me they were now being stricter about the Knesset’s dress code, and I was violating it,” she said. “I insisted my clothes were fine. He called another man, and eventually five different employees came to check how I was dressed. I felt humiliated. It was very unpleasant.”

Only after Michaeli called Saharovich to complain did he send a female guard, who approved Hasson’s dress and let her enter.