Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz apologized Tuesday over a joke he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak shared while viewing an exercise by the Golani Brigade in Israel's north. The joke was an oblique reference to the ongoing debate over the right of strictly observant religious men to opt out of entertainment that includes women who sing on stage.
The IDF Spokesman said: "The Chief of Staff apologizes to any of the elements that may have been hurt by his words." The utterances were made jokingly, said the Spokesman, "and the interpretation that was added to them is in contradiction to his world view and his proven record on advancing women."
"Who are the women here? Are they from the battalion or the brigade? From the division?"
Buchris said: "No problem, let them sing solo, everything will be OK."
Buchris said that as long as she was "without a uniform and with [civilian] clothes that is fine."
The television reporter ignored the request and broadcast the video anyways. A flurry of harsh condemnation from militant feminist Knesset members and journalists resulted. The militant feminist interpretation of the banter was that it reflected a sexist attitude. Kadima MK Orit Zuaretz said that she would demand an urgent debate at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and that the dialogue proved that the Chief of Staff was opposed to women's rights. She went also used the somewhat offensive expression "the fish stinks from the head" to accompany her accusation.