(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
It is unethical to call Likud MK Oren Hazan a pimp, the Knesset Ethics Committee determined Monday.
The ruling was made in response to a complaint by Hazan about a tweet by Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir in March that read: “In honor of Women’s Day, two MKs, the first a former pimp and the second from a party in which women aren’t allowed to run, chastised me for wearing a dress that bared my shoulders. Happy holiday, everyone.”
Shortly after Hazan was elected to the Knesset in 2015, Channel 2 reported that he had hired prostitutes and procured crystal meth for patrons of a casino he managed in Burgas, Bulgaria, and used hard drugs.
After Hazan sued Channel 2, a court found last year that the reports related to prostitutes and drug use were defensible, but not that of dealing drugs.
Hazan told the Ethics Committee that, although he was not mentioned by name, it was clear Shaffir was referring to him in the tweet.
In her defense, Shaffir sent quotes from the court’s ruling on the Channel 2 report to the committee.
The committee pointed out, however, that in November 2011, in response to a previous complaint by Hazan against Shaffir for calling him a pimp, it had ruled: “It is not appropriate that MKs use the word ‘pimp’ in relation to one another, and asks [Shaffir] to stop using it in connection to MK Hazan.”
By calling Hazan a pimp, Shaffir is violating the ethics rule that “MKs must protect the dignity of the Knesset and its members,” the committee stated.
The Ethics Committee also told lawmakers to stop ripping up legislation on the Knesset stage.
MKs have been known to do so in protest, and the committee made the ruling in response to a complaint by Hazan against several Joint List lawmakers who tore up an early draft of the muezzin bill, limiting the use of outdoor loudspeakers by religious institutions.
Joint List MK Masud Gnaim said in response that tearing up a bill is a legitimate way to express reservations about it, adding that many legislators have done so in the past.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) wrote to the committee: “Tearing a document that I find to be harmful is a legitimate political act and is sometimes the right thing to do at the time.
For example, the Jewish population here thinks that [former Israeli ambassador to the UN] Chaim Herzog tearing up the UN decision on Zionism,” defining it as racism, “is a correct act.”
However, the committee said it has come out against ripping bills in the past, and there are special rules of behavior in the Knesset plenum even if they somewhat limit MKs’ expression.
“We must make sure that the debate in the plenum be verbal only, and that the plenum doesn’t turn into a place for protest of other kinds, even if they are legitimate outside of the Knesset,” the committee stated.