Israel President's Remarks Attacked
May. 19, 1998
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Ezer Weizman entered his second term as Israel's president Monday the same way he began his first _ under attack from women insulted by what they say are his chauvinistic remarks.
Weizman, 73, has a reputation for making controversial statements for which he has apologized to women, homosexuals and religious Jews.
Even his inauguration was shrouded in controversy when he gave in to religious demands and barred women singers from the ceremony. But when female lawmakers, including Dalia Itzik and Anat Maor, said Weizman was discriminating against women, he canceled the performance altogether.
On Monday, the opposition Labor Party, which supported Weizman's bid for a second term, quoted him as telling a male legislator from the party: ``If Dalia Itzik and Anat Maor want to make headlines, then maybe I'll slap them both and then they'll get headlines.''
Weizman aide Arieh Shumer appeared before Labor legislators in parliament to deny the allegations. However, Itzik told Israel TV's Channel 2 that Shumer later admitted it was true.
``Shumer understood afterwards that the president did say this and promised me that the president would apologize,'' Itzik said. No apology came, however, and Itzik told reporters later she was disappointed.
Five female Knesset members boycotted the inauguration and two dozen women protested outside the president's official residence in Jerusalem after the ceremony.
Weizman has infuriated women by calling them ``missy'' and telling a female army officer she was better off at home darning socks than trying to become a pilot.