Ashkenazi with Orly Vilna’i and Guy Meroz.
(photo credit: Sara Miller)
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi came under fire from female MKs on
Tuesday for making what they called a sexist comment to Channel 10 morning news
co-anchor Orly Vilna’i.
The web site Walla News revealed that at
President Shimon Peres’s birthday celebration in Jerusalem last month, Ashkenazi
told Vilna’i that she was an “achla kusit” – a crude slang term referring to a part of the female anatomy.
Ashkenazi confirmed to the website that
he had made the statement, explaining that it was made in a friendly
conversation with his wife Ronit, Vilna’i, and her husband, Channel 10 morning
news co-anchor Guy Meroz.
“I am sorry if any harm was done,” Ashkenazi
Meroz complained about the comment in the Ma’ariv
newspaper. In the
column, he attributed the quote to a “very high-ranking security official” who
was at the conference, which led to speculation, because the other three
security officials who were at the conference are still in the IDF.
Atid MK Aliza Lavie, who heads the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women,
said public figures had an important role to play in preventing harmful
expressions from becoming commonplace in conversations.
“I am glad that
former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi immediately realized that expressions
in that style have no place in public discourse and hurried to apologize,” Lavie
Lavie’s predecessor as head of the committee, Deputy Transportation
Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) went further, warning that he should not be
allowed to enter politics.
“It is a shameful situation that a man who
headed the Israel Defense Forces and wants to be one of [Israel’s] leaders
speaks in such a cheap and disgraceful way to a woman,” Hotovely said. “A man
who has not internalized the laws against sexual harassment is unfit to pursue
public leadership.” Likud MK Gila Gamliel called Ashkenazi’s comment “horrible
and sexist” and said it “proves his dark outlook against women.”
expected to enter politics after a legally mandated post-army cooling-off period
ends in February. He is considered a likely future candidate for Labor Party
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich and other Labor MKs made a point
of not responding to Ashkenazi’s statement.
A Meretz spokesman said the
fact that his party was declining to respond had nothing to do with Ashkenazi’s