Photo: Knesset Channel
Women-less Knesset choir
Photo: Knesset Channel

Women want their voices heard

Following female MKs' exclusion from choir which sang national anthem in Knesset during British PM's visit, women’s organizations to protest by singing at next plenum session

The Knesset just started its hiatus last Wednesday and it looks like this break is going to be very interesting.


Ynet has learned that women’s organizations are intending on organizing a unique “musical demonstration” in light of the exclusion of female Knesset members from the choir singing "Hatikva" (Israel’s national anthem) during British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit two weeks ago.


According to the plan, a group of women will arrive at the Knesset at the first hiatus meeting, sneak through to the visitors’ balcony at the plenary and break out in “powerful song.”


The organizers have suggested that the protesters equip themselves with small musical instruments like harmonicas, and they hope that the Knesset’s female workers and MKs who support the protest, will join them.


In addition, a second group of women who feel a “complete disconnection from the government and the Knesset,” will sing outside the parliamentary structure.


“Women from all over the country will join in; religious, Arab, Russian immigrants, Ethiopians, rightists and leftists,” as written in the letter dispersed in the last few days amongst members of the various women’s organizations.


“We will advertise the dates and times the singing will begin at the Knesset at synagogues, workplaces, and all other organizations. So, it doesn’t matter where the group of women will sing, they know when to start singing,” said one of the organizers.


While women were those offended by this disallowance to sing, they are not the only ones invited to take part in the struggle.


“Men who think that the prohibition of women to sing publicly is a disgrace are invited to come and sing. They can come without signs, without bother and without protest, just to sing loudly, nonstop,” said the main organizer.


The initiators have vowed to persist and demonstrate every week, “until the attorney general demands that all public servants, MKs, the government, IDF and local authorities make sure that women artists, singers and dancers will be able to perform on every stage in an equal manner without discrimination,” said the organizer.


In addition, they hope that this activity will be increased and be placed in other hands. “We will just light the torch, and the female civilians need to make sure it doesn’t become extinguished,” she said.


‘We will sing loudly’ 

Roni Aloni-Sadovnik, one of the protest’s organizers, told Ynet that she intends on enlisting a few famous female singers who will participate in the Knesset musical tour. “We will sing loudly and make them stop the plenary meeting until the Knesset speaker will agree and promise that women’s singing in the parliament will never stop,” she said.


“We will simultaneously prepare amendment drafts for a clause in the Equal Opportunity Act stating that gender discrimination in ceremonial performances is prohibited,” she said.


Aloni-Sadovnik called Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik’s decision to disallow women’s participation in the choir, “the queen bee syndrome.”


Aloni-Sdovnik claims that “the growing and strengthening wave before us is very dangerous to democracy. Everyone knows that the biggest threat to democracy comes from parts of the population in which ignorance and religious fundamentalism meet, and women are the first to be harmed by this.”


According to her, the religious belief that “the voice of a singing woman equals lewdness” is a crude and sexist expression that has no place in a modern country.


“A place that allows an old and distorted routine to be rooted is a slippery slope where nine-year old girls are not allowed to perform at the Meitarim Bridge (in Jerusalem) without covering themselves with sacks,” she said.


“They shut us up and cover our bodies, and there is a severe infringement to the Equal Opportunity Act in employing female artists.


“As long as it remains people’s choice at their own personal functions, so be it, but the prohibition of female artists from working at ceremonies organized by the Knesset, the President’s Residence, the municipality and the IDF, is out of the question.”


פרסום ראשון: 08.03.08, 15:16
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