Member of Knesset Moshe Gafni sparked a backlash by insulting popular singer and Israel’s recent representative to the Eurovision Song Contest, Noa Kirel, on Monday.
“I would donate some clothes for her to have,” said Gafni, a leader of United Torah Judaism, an ultra-Orthodox party. He was apparently referencing the skimpy outfits Kirel wears during her performances.
Gafni, who heads the Knesset Finance Committee, spoke during a Knesset debate on the budget. The opposition has leveled criticism at the coalition for overfunding haredi institutions.
Gafni referred to a school his granddaughter attends. “All the core subjects are studied there and she works in high-tech. But there are people sitting here who say she doesn’t deserve it…. She learns not only the core curriculum, chemistry, algebra, she also learns about Judaism. And still receives only half the budget [per pupil that state schools get]. Why?” he said.
He added that she didn’t learn about Kirel. “So what? Because of that she doesn’t deserve a budget?” he asked.
Gafni’s comments elicited swift pushback from opposition voices.
MK Meirav Ben-Ari of the Yesh Atid Party said, “MK Gafni made a repulsive comment directed at Noa Kirel…. And I ask you, why does he even interfere with what Noa wears? Why is it his business?”
Hagit Pe’er, who heads Na’amat, a women’s organization affiliated with the Labor Zionist movement, said, “While Noa Kirel represents the beautiful face of Israel to the world, Gafni makes sure that he reminds the world of the darkness we won’t allow here. Noa—you are amazing, strong and empowering. You’ll probably get along just fine without Gafni.”
Kirel finished third in the Eurovision final on May 13.