Guardian critique of Knesset dress code would suggest that every UK office is misogynistic.

A guest post by CAMERA intern Aron White

At the Guardian, Peter Beaumont has written an article about two Israeli parliamentary assistants who were prevented from entering the Knesset because they were wearing short skirts. They were prevented from entering because their attire did not fit the dress code of the Knesset, but Beaumont`s article paints a far darker story; the guards are acting as “modesty police” and the story reflects the growing “of Israel`s growing political and social conservatism – not least with regards to women.” The Dec. 13th article also quotes Israeli critics of the move, saying that the dress code is being used as a means to “oppress women.”


The article is laden with double standards – what is deemed appropriate dress at the Knesset is no different than what is deemed appropriate dress for the UK parliament, or frankly, for any office in the UK. Peter Beaumont is spinning the need for formality at a nation`s legislature into what he wants it to be – a story about Israeli conservatism and oppression of women, a story that bears no relation to the facts.

Let us look at the details. Beaumont article says that the Israeli parliament demands people wear “appropriate dress” – he places these words in speech marks, as if this everyday concept is actually some sinister Israeli invention. He then goes on to list the incriminating list of totally unreasonable things that Israel parliamentarians and their assistants should not wear, as they are informal – “tank/spaghetti tops, cropped tops, shorts or three-quarter length trousers, ripped trousers, shirts with political slogans, short skirts and short dresses, flip-flops or open-back clogs.”

This list does not seem in the least bit noteworthy. In most workplaces in the UK, such articles of clothing would also be deemed unprofessional or inappropriate. Formal business attire in the UK usually consists of a suit and tie, button down shirt and dark shoes for men, and a shirt (often with suit), long trousers and skirt, and smart shoes for women. There are few men entering office jobs in the City of London wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt, and few women sitting down at their desks with open back clogs and ripped trousers. The list of things not to wear in the Israeli parliament could easily have been copied from any “What not to wear to an interview” advice pieces – there is nothing surprising or noteworthy on the list at all.

The UK Parliament also has a dress code – whilst it does not go into granular detail, the website of parliament says that “the dress of Members (of parliament) these days is generally that is ordinarily be worn for a fairly formal business transaction,” namely, those things listed above. One will almost never see a male member of parliament without a suit and tie, or a female MP not dressed in a formal business dress or a suit. When I visited Parliament in January of this year, not only was every MP dressed in formal business attire, but at the committee meeting I attended, every member of the audience wore a jacket.

Does Peter Beaumont think that the Huffington Post is also “oppressing women” by writing in an advice column, that female business attire means skirts whose hem goes below the knee? The Guardian itself, in its “Work and Careers” section, features an article describing business attire as “nothing less than a suit” – evidence of growing political and social conservatism at the Guardian, no doubt.

Not for the first time, the Guardian`s coverage of this Israeli story says far more about the Guardian than it does about Israel. The Israeli Knesset has a dress code that is not in the least bit noteworthy or surprising – but for the Guardian, it’s another opportunity to demonise Israel.  

28 replies »

  1. This is, of course, very typical of Western Media — to take a minor, solitary incident in Israel and turn it into a universal battle of Good vs Bad.

    Yesterday, UN Watch discussed the jailing of a Saudi woman who had tweeted an image of herself without a hijab. She was immediately arrested. Some in Saudi Arabia want to kill her. You can read more here.

    I know Beaumont has been too busy getting mad at Israel for having the audacity to shoot Palestinians who are in the process of stabbing them. If only the Israelis would all move away so that he can cover some real news.

  2. I am sorry to see the passing of the standards of Ben Gurion’s day. Shorts? – I don’t think he ever owned any long pants, tie? – doubt if he owned one of those either.

    Times are a changing, but compared to the UK – the Israeli dress codes are far more lax

  3. Those bloody misogynistic Israelis… That they require from male Knesset employees the same formal dress is just a poor attempt to hide their oppression of women….
    Beaumont is just a field version of an average Israel-hater, he and the Guardian are a perfect match.

  4. Why not admit, that some Israeli fundamentalist want to impose their way of life also in Israeli parliament?
    I have seen in UK offices many women with short skirts and of course, one can see them in Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel.
    In IDF men and women serve and only some fundamentalist prefer not to serve in the army.

    • This isn’t a matter of admitting. It’s a matter of focusing on it so it’s some kind of international incident.

      Kids are being shot point blank in the head in Syria, but lets call Israel a Fundamentalist Country because the Knesset frowns on showing some leg at work.

  5. When during WW2 an USAF delegation visited the Soviet Union they found out at a soviet airport, that some land and lease planes were without motors. When they asked, why they got the answer and why are you beating the Negroes.
    Yes, we all know about the horror in Syria. Nevertheless, the point is because Israel is not a fundamentalist country those trying to install fundamentalist way of life in Knesset should be criticized. Especially since many of those fundamentalists do not serve in IDF.

    • Imposing a dress code in the Knesset has nothing to do with fundamentalism. The regulations don’t require anything different in any parliament of any Western country. Calling this “modesty police” is a poor attempt to show Israel similar to a Muslim shithole. Meanwhile in the so liberal Swedish parliament they took down a picture by a Swedish baroque painter because it shows nude breasts. Could you quote any “modesty police” article about this farce in the Guardian?

  6. You [peterthehungarian] try also “whataboutism”. Subject matter was Israeli parliament and not Sweden or Syria.
    Some rightwing politicians even would like to stop women serving in IDF. Some would like to limit freedom of expression.
    So if it was permitted to come to Knesseth with short skirts, why change the rules?

    • You [peterthehungarian] try also “whataboutism”
      Accusing your opponents with “whataboutism” is the last refugee of hypocrites who are silent about their own much more grave wrongs.
      Subject matter was Israeli parliament and not Sweden or Syria.
      Reminds me the professor who says that Jewish students are cheating in the exams. When others say him that EVERY student cheat then he answers. True but the subject is the Jews.
      Some rightwing politicians even would like to stop women serving in IDF.
      Some ultra-religious politicians would like to stop woman serving in the IDF – it has nothing to do with being right-wing or not.
      So if it was permitted to come to Knesseth with short skirts, why change the rules?
      It was not permitted, the new rule defined the allowed length.
      The rule is idiotic, but the Guardian article is the textbook example of Israel-bashing. Do you really think that a UK newspaper should publish reports about Israeli dress codes? Do you really think that in the UK parliament has no rules regarding the proper dress required from visitors?

    • The singling out of Israel’s Knesset for practices that are commonplace in other parliaments might be seen as antisemitic. This is exactly what Peter Beaumont is doing. He is not exposing a plot endangering western civilization. He is nitpicking on the Jews for having a sense of decorum. It’s really quite obnoxious as well as nauseating.

  7. Mount a campaign to demand that companies cease advertising in the pages of Der Guardian due to its dishonesty an lack of journalistic standards.

  8. Edward I do not believe that such a campaign for boycott could be successful.
    The Knesset is not a church or an orthodox synagogue but the parliament of a democratic country. The main problems of Israel are not the short skirts of some women. I would like to know why exactly now some fanatics try to change the custom in Knesset?

    • Deprive Der Guardian and Der Independent of money from advertising and they will reform or fold.

      What company wants to be associated with racist, fascist rags like Der Guardian or Der Independent?

  9. Dress code in the British Parliament
    Parliament has a very strict dress code – men are expected to wear a shirt and tie, while women are expected to dress in business-like clothing. T-shirts wearing slogans are not allowed.
    MPs won’t be barred from entering the chamber, but tend not to ‘catch the eye’ of the Speaker to participate in debates.
    Both Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Harriet Harman have worn feminist slogan t-shirts in the Commons in recent years. Ms Lucas spoke in Westminster Hall wearing one and was admonished, while Ms Harman was apparently not noticed.

  10. Austrian dress code
    Dress code in Austria tends towards the more formal and people take a pride in their appearance. Therefore, it is safest to wear smart, business-like clothes for first meetings in order to make a professional impression.
    Men are best advised to wear a dark suit or smart sports jacket with trousers and a tie. Women should wear smart business suits or dresses.

    These business people in Austria must be fanatic right-wingers… Where is Beaumont when we need him?

  11. peterthehungarian My new book “Immer wieder Ungarn” was presented in Austrian parliament on October 21, 2016

    Some women came with short skirt and nobody said a word. So yes some rightwinger or right wing extremist in Israeli parliament wants wants to change the customs.

  12. I have put this not to advertise but so you can see I have been to Austrian parliament and nobody said a word that women with short skirts came. Fortunately in Israel there is a discussion about the new rules in Knesset.

    • And apparently you appreciate the oh so liberal Austrian Parliament with its Haiders and co.
      BTW I wanted to visit a friend in the Hofarchiv in Vienna and the porter didn’t allow me to enter – my absolutely clean and almost new jeans and sport shoes were too provocative. I’m sure that the staff at the gate were right-wingers….

    • I can not believe the amount of time and energy you are applying to your argument that a dress code in the Knesset is some form of Religious Fundamentalism meant to belittle women.

      Have you ever been to Israel? Have you visited the Knesset as you have the Austrian capitol ? If you haven’t, then you’re relying on a newspaper account WRITTEN BY A JOURNO WHO CAN’T BE BOTHERED WITH THE HAPPENINGS IN SYRIA because he has spent his career bashing Israel. Over skirt length at the Knesset.


    • Karl,
      I’m sorry, but if the Austrian parliament doesn’t allow its members to show up in their underwear then they are all being controlled by backward fundamentalists who hate women.

  13. I am sorry to have published here my opinion under my own name. It is astonishing that one of the anonym posters calls me a “whore”. The foul language some of you – writing under pennames – have used tells more about yourself than about me.

    • Like most people, Jews don’t like to marginalized in international affairs over such nonsense as enforcing rules re skirt length. Don’t you think with all the hostility in the Middle East that the Western Media should focus on real important news (like Aleppo) rather than this type of nonsense?

      And you compound this by repeating your posts over and over on this thread, as if one time wasn’t provocative enough.

      Sure, you used your real name…. and you did it to bash the Israeli state over a dress code. Not once, but four times, in this thread, yes?

      I just came from an interview at the Texas Capitol. There is a dress code there, too. The woman who interviewed me was definitely oppressed in her smart dress, and I most definitely was an irreligious scoundrel for being in blue jeans with my buttoned shirt untucked.

      If you want respect on a forum like this, I suggest listening to what people say rather than double down on your efforts in declaring the importance of misogyny in Israeli society via the expectations of a proper hem line.