Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Strip-club visit makes waves
May an officer and a gentleman visit a “gentlemen’s club”?
That’s the question roiling Israel after the navy chief, Admiral Eliezer Marom, was spotted at a Tel Aviv strip-club.
While abroad salty sailors might be expected to let loose in their free time, say liberal voices. And such entertainments are legal in Israel. But many Israelis take a more conservative view and those mores tend to seep into their conscript military.
There’s also an undercurrent of concern that the navy, whose small submarine fleet is widely assumed to be equipped with nuclear weapons to deter enemies like Iran, should have a visibly sober and responsible leadership.
The Israel Defence Forces said its chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, had reprimanded Marom. At least one Israeli lawmaker called for the admiral’s resignation.
Manoeuvering to douse further controversy, Marom voiced regret.
Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which broke the story of the club jaunt, quoted him as saying the visit to the Go-Go Strip Show was a “one-time blunder” occasioned by a friend’s celebration.
“I don’t hang out at such places,” added Marom, 53, according to Yedioth. “I’m a family man. I have grown children. Soon I’ll be a grandfather. But things should be taken in proportion. I’m not a criminal. I didn’t commit sexual harassment or rape.”
[PICTURE: Adm. Eliezer Marom, chief of Israel's navy, speaks to Defence Minister Ehud Barak at a January 16, 2008 graduation ceremony for new officers. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen]