Cabinet members clashed on Sunday in a heated row over fancy dress costumes worn to the weekly government meeting after some ultra-Orthodox ministers complained that Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Superman outfit was immodest.
Health Minister Yackov Litzman, of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, took umbrage at the outfit because of the bright red briefs that, he told Bennett, were “a disgrace on a man of your age.”
As tempers frayed three ministers threatened to bolt the coalition and join the parliamentary opposition.
Purim, which began Wednesday night, is known as the Jewish Halloween and revelers traditionally dress up as part of the merry-making that celebrates the salvation of the Jewish community from being wiped out in Persia two thousand years ago.
In keeping with the tradition each year cabinet members attend the meeting before the Purim festival in fancy dress costumes.
According to sources in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Sunday meeting descended into unrivaled chaos after Bennett, who has a penchant for dressing up, arrived at the meeting in a full Superman outfit.
Litzman, who was dressed as a garden gnome, at first refused to take his place at the table and complained that Bennett’s attire was offending his religious sensibilities.
He was backed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (a Viking) and Religious Affairs Minister David Azulai (Mickey Mouse) both from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.
“We agreed there would be no inappropriate costumes,” Litzman shouted at Bennett, brandishing his trowel. “This isn’t fair.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dressed as the Pope, tried to calm the situation but to no avail, sources said.
“I’ve seen worse,” the prime minister joked, but then refused to elaborate.
As Netanyahu moved to start the meeting Litzman shouted him down and demanded that Bennett change into a more acceptable outfit.
“I’ll need a phone booth for that,” Bennett smirked.
Bennett further goaded Litzman by offering to remove the briefs and spend the rest of the meeting clad only in his bright blue spandex unitard, red boots and cape. However, the proposal was immediately and unanimously voted down by ministers.
Other costumes at the table included Senior Citizens Minister Gila Gamliel (a ladybug), Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (a pirate), Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (a kangaroo), Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (a vampire) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who wore a smile.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon arrived dressed as an airplane but was delayed as he was unable to fit his wings through the doors to the room.
Welfare Minister Haim Katz (the Cat in the Hat) urged the ministers to not ruin the festive mood and offered Litzman a Hamentashen — a small pastry cake eaten on Purim.
“Is this a game, do you think this is funny?” Litzman demanded.
“Its just a shame, on a day that’s so sunny,” Katz shot back to applause from other ministers.
Culture Minister Miri Regev, decked out as the Statue of Liberty, was also scorned by Litzman who complained that the outfit left her arms exposed, another modesty issue.
“Liberty!” the outspoken Regev shouted back at him waving her torch in his face. “Freedom of choice! Equal rights!”
Deri called on Regev to maintain decorum as the infuriated Litzman threatened to leave the meeting, the building, and the government, taking the Viking and Mickey with him.
As the argument raged on Gamliel pointed out that once they were all sitting at the table the offending item would be hidden from view.
“Who asked you anyway?” snorted an irritated Azulai who then flicked one of Gamliel’s antennas prompting Shaked to caution him against harassment in the work place.
Bennett eventually agreed to wrap his cape around his waist and Regev refrained from raising her torch above her head as a compromise.
During the meeting ministers voted to establish a costume committee before next year’s Purim which would be tasked with reviewing and approving all outfits for the government.
“It could have been worse,” Regev told reporters after the meeting. “I was going to come as Wonder Woman.”
Spoof and satire contributed to this report.
Happy Purim to one and all