An officer and a gentleman’s club

How much does a lap dance cost? A career, possibly.

OC Navy Adm. Eli Marom is facing massive pressure to resign his post because of revelations that he made several visits to a Tel Aviv strip club. Frankly, I don’t get it.

Now, visiting a strip club may not be the most respectable way to spend an evening, but that doesn’t mean it merits a dismissal. In fact, no one has suggested that Marom acted in an unbecoming manner during his few visits to the Go Go — which, it must be noted, he made out of uniform. And while the suggestions that Marom step down or be removed center around the vague notion that he would somehow be unable to face or command female soldiers, no one has yet provided even a hint of impropriety on his part vis-a-vis female soldiers in a military career that spans three decades. In no way has Marom been shown to be even remotely comparable to military legend Moshe Dayan, who was equally legendary for his sexual conquests, or to war hero Yitzhak Mordechai, who lost his general’s rank for groping his secretaries.

Had Marom been caught cheating on his wife, it would be understandable to question his appropriateness for his position. After all, some would say, if he can betray his wife, what’s to stop him from betraying the country? That’s quite a leap to make, but it’s a reasonable question to ask. But this is nothing like that.

Is making a few visits to a legal strip club indicative of a lack of Marom’s competency, of his ability to command Israel’s vital maritime forces? By all accounts, Marom, who was brought in to rehabilitate the navy’s fighting capability after an embarassing performance  in the Second Lebanon War, has done just that.

Despite all this, the whispering campaign against the admiral persists. And the longer it does so, the more it reeks of hypocrisy. It is puritanical, misguided and, worst of all, it is utterly irrelevent to the real epidemic of sexual predation that plagues Israel in general, and its armed forces in particular.

Remember, this is a country that tolerates crude sexual behavior to an astonishing degree, exemplified by Haim Ramon’s return to high rank in the government shortly after his conviction on sexual assault charges. More specifically, the IDF is overflowing with negative attitudes and behavior relating to sex. Young soldiers routinely call each other “whores” and denigrate other units as representing no more than a “brothel”. “Loose” female soldiers are referred to as  “mattresses,” and combat units compose fight songs that include all manner of sexual innuendo. And the army pays for hundreds of abortions for its young female soldiers each year.

All this occurs unchecked, with nary a whiff of public outrage… yet a relatively understated evening at a strip club is unacceptable?! As if this were Tailhook?! What a myopic view of impropriety!

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2 Responses

  1. Take your argument one more step… If going to a strip club is going to be grounds for dismissal, what about seeing an pornographic movie, buying a pornographic magazine, subscribing to Victoria Secret catalog?

    The standard for dismissal should be a clear one, not one that shifts according to the popular mood of the week.

  2. Agreed. Look, if they want to say this is behavior unbecoming an officer, I would think it a little too puritanical — but if that would be the standard, then so be it. Right now, however, it isn’t in the ethical code now — so Marom CAN’T be treated as if had broken that code.

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