(photo credit: DUDI HASSON)
Despite several days of protests, singer Eyal Golan is slated to be honored on Tuesday at the Knesset.
Golan, who was investigated but never charged for sexual offenses in connection with a minor, will receive an award from Likud MK Nava Boker, alongside a group of other Israeli singers. The artist, who was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced in 2014 to community service, was never charged with sexual crimes. But his father, Dani Biton, was convicted and sentenced for a scheme in which he lured young female fans of his son and led them into prostitution.
On Monday evening, Culture Minister Miri Regev said Golan was worthy of the prize and praised Boker for remaining steadfast.
“Eyal is beloved by his audience and is a decorated artist who has been selected as singer of the year and singer of the decade,” Regev said. “Eyal, I am proud of this prize you deserve.” Regev said she could not personally attend the ceremony since she will be paying her respects then to the late Yigal Bashan.
Boker, the chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus for Promoting Hebrew Music, announced last week that Golan would be one of more than a dozen artists to receive the first-ever prize from the body. And despite vocal opposition from women’s groups and many Knesset members, the event is proceeding as scheduled on Tuesday afternoon in the Knesset.
A spokesman for Golan told Channel 12 News on Monday that Golan is entirely innocent, was never charged and is “as clear as snow.”
Though the award was originally presented as coming from the Knesset Caucus for Promoting Hebrew Music, the seven opposition MKs in the 10-member caucus were quick to distance themselves from the honor. It became clear on Monday that the event will be a private one held in the Knesset by Boker, who will present the award herself.
On Sunday, five members of the caucus – Yesh Atid’s Ofer Shelah, Aliza Lavie and Haim Jelin; and Zionist Union’s Itzik Shmuli and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin – wrote a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein asking him to cancel the event.
“As members of the Caucus for Hebrew Music, we want to point out that MK Boker did not consult with any of us – not about the decision to award a prize and not about the list of winners and their criteria,” wrote the MKs to Edelstein. “We view with severity this one-sided decision by MK Boker and we do not intend to take part in the event.”
Caucus members Stav Shaffir and Merav Ben-Ari also expressed their distaste for the event.
“Nava Boker will present Eyal Golan with an award in her own name only, not in the name of the Knesset, and definitely not in the name of the caucus members (myself included), who oppose this unnecessary move,” tweeted Ben-Ari on Monday.
The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel also condemned the recognition.
“The decision to honor in the Israeli Knesset a man whose name is tied up in a serious case of systematic sexual exploitation of minors is unbelievable,” said ARCCI on Sunday. “The state-sanctioned ‘whitewashing’ of Golan casts a tremendous moral stain on the State of Israel itself.”
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