Israeli fashion model-turned-businesswoman Nataly Dadon is demanding a public apology and NIS 280,000 (approximately $77,000) from the proprietor of a trendy Tel Aviv café who refused to serve her on political grounds. In a letter she sent this week through her attorney, the celebrity warned the owner of “Nina” – Eyal Levingat – that failure on his part to comply would lead to a lawsuit.
According to Dadon, when she and her photo-shoot production crew tried to order coffee at Nina on Sunday afternoon, Levingat told them to leave. In cellphone footage of the incident, Levingat is heard calling Dadon a “bimbo” and defending his right to turn away any customer he pleases.
Levingat’s version is completely different. Though he acknowledges hurling the ugly epithet, he denies having discriminated against Dadon. He claims, in fact, that he had no idea who she was when he said that he didn’t want “people like that” in his establishment. He insists that she and her friends were being disruptive and hence were booted from the premises.
It’s possible that he’s telling the truth about not having recognized her. Judging by his eatery’s Google reviews, Levingat is as famous for rudeness as Dadon is influential on Instagram.
Still, her assumption about the root of his appalling behavior is understandable. As someone who holds right-wing views and therefore doesn’t fit the mold in her industry, she’s grown accustomed to being ridiculed relentlessly for her activism on behalf of the coalition.
The ridicule, criticism and misogyny against Nataly Dadon
TAKE THE response to her performance on April 27 at the “March of the Million” in Jerusalem, for example. One of the event’s several prominent speakers – among them ministers, Knesset members, academics and pundits – she stood out precisely for hailing from a traditionally left-leaning milieu. Though her impassioned speech was well-crafted and elicited much applause, the opposing camp treated her to the kind of misogyny that would make even the likes of Levingat blush.
In fairness, Dadon crossed a few lines as far as her counterparts in the protest movement were concerned. In the first place, she highlighted the irony of those “preaching to us about democracy” while engaged in a campaign to delegitimize the elected government.
Secondly, she stressed that participants at the rally weren’t only there to support judicial reform and criticize Supreme Court overreach. No, she declared, “We’re here to strengthen Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”
“We’re here to strengthen Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”Nataly Dadon
To hit this point home, she quoted the opening passage of Israel’s Declaration of Independence; you know – the document that the protest movement has appropriated as a mascot – a symbol of so-called proof that judicial reform will lead the country down a path toward messianic dictatorship.
“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people,” she read aloud. “Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.”
She continued: “After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”
At this juncture, she took the opportunity to counter charges of religious coercion, asserting that each of us is at liberty to practice our Judaism in accordance with our beliefs. Addressing the opposition, she commanded, “Stop sowing fear that Israel is about to become a halachic state [governed by Jewish law]. The overwhelming majority of us wants to coexist with one another: Orthodox and secular, Right and Left.”
But her subsequent veiled reference to the women traipsing around in costumes from the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, was going too far for her detractors. Lashing out at the “disgraceful connotation” of the get-up, she said that anyone who thinks such degradation is remotely Jewish “isn’t familiar with the prophetesses and priestesses from whom the Jewish nation emerged. It is they who are the source of my inspiration.”
THE FLOOD of ensuing derogatory comments about Dadon’s appearance and acuity – from self-anointed “enlightened” circles, no less – are on the level of blonde jokes. Ditto for the way in which she’s being invoked to illustrate the Right’s supposedly slim pickings.
“Nataly Dadon will recommend lip-augmentation reform,” tweeted one genius of the male persuasion.
Also remarking on her mouth, another man wrote: “What did Nataly Dadon do to herself? Is it for beauty or more [pornographic] activities? Maybe I’m wrong and that’s how she was born, poor thing.”
Yet another stated, “It has to be asked: Is Nataly Dadon dumb or is she dumb?”
Someone else chimed in: “What do you want from her? She’s a model, not a doctor of political science. I’m sure that when posing for the camera, she has all smart people in her pocket (if she has a pocket in her thong, that is).”
The following retort came from a female: “They want from her exactly what she gives them. Naked pictures in every closet. It’s a bit embarrassing to see her, a single woman, in front of kippa-wearing ultra-Orthodox men without women next to them, LOL. What’s her connection to them exactly? It’s all very sick, because none of them is waiting to hear her magic words, right?”
Then there was this: “Your mind would be messed up, too, if you had that much Botox in your face.”
A different smug analyst contributed: “She’s lucky that God gave her a beautiful body and a pretty face. Too bad he didn’t give her wisdom to go along with them.”
Simultaneously going after Dadon and the government that he and his compatriots consider intellectually and socially inferior, a concerned Twitter user posted: “The silicone in her breasts moved to her lips. That’s what a stupid idiot with a duck face looks like. No awareness. They [the right-wing coalition] simply ran out of educated economists who really understand what’s what. So they decided to go for models who would at least look good. Brains she’ll never have, but how is she given screen time, when she’s so ugly?”
THE ABOVE morsels are just a taste of the fare that Dadon is fed on a regular basis. It’s rhetoric that shouldn’t be tolerated, let alone spewed – especially by those purporting to combat sexism and champion feminist causes.
Alas, this tenet is embraced selectively. To enjoy its benefits, however, Dadon doesn’t need to pen a doctoral thesis or shun cosmetic intervention. All she has to do is undergo a politically correct conversion.
It remains to be seen whether she was wrong about why Levingat insulted and ousted her from his bistro. Nevertheless, since the altercation took place a mere three days after her oratory at the Jerusalem demonstration, she can’t be blamed for her interpretation of his hostility.