Israeli TV network to address sexual harassment accusations

Further allegations of sexual harassment lobbed at media group's Alex Gilady.

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November 6, 2017 16:31
4 minute read.
harassment

Harassment in the workplace (illustration).. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

 
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As a second accusation of sexual harassment emerged against Keshet president Alex Gilady, the company vowed to address the situation.

Last week, journalist Oshrat Kotler revealed live on Channel 10 News that she received an “indecent proposal” from Gilady 25 years ago, when he was CEO of the media company.

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And on Sunday night, Haaretz reporter Neri Livneh published her own accusation against Gilady – that during a purported work meeting he exposed his genitals to her and told her to “talk to it.”

Livneh wrote in Haaretz that in 1999, Gilady’s secretary called her for a meeting to discuss a business opportunity. They met in a public place, she wrote, and then Gilady said “there was a new current events program on one of the channels he had to go home and watch, and asked me to drive home with him.”

Once in his home, Livneh wrote, Gilady went upstairs to “freshen up,” and then came downstairs wearing a silk robe. “For some reason he decided to suddenly to remove the robe, revealing himself to me and said to me: ‘Talk to it.’” Livneh fled the building, where Gilady’s driver was waiting outside: “What, you’re done already?” the driver said, according to Livneh. “Usually it takes a few hours.”

In Kotler’s accusation, Gilady called her up shortly after a job interview with Keshet and invited her to dinner. “When I tried to dodge it and suggest lunch, he said no, no, dinner, and free up the rest of your evening,” she recalled on live TV. When Kotler told Gilady she was married, he said: “What’s the relevance? Don’t you know how you get ahead in TV and in Hollywood?” Kotler declined, saying she’d rather not get ahead at all.

On Monday morning, Drorit Wertheim, chairwoman of Keshet’s board of directors, issued a statement in the name of the company’s management.

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“The testimony of the female journalists about the improper behavior attributed to Alex Gilady is upsetting and painful,” she said. “Without addressing the specific instances, circumstances or the passage of time, I would like to offer strength to anyone who felt hurt or humiliated by improper and unacceptable conduct.”

Wertheim, without offering details, said she would “continue to do whatever she can, together with Keshet’s management, to ensure a safe and protected work environment for all employees.” She added that she intends to “speak with Alex Gilady as soon as possible.”

Gilady offered his own defense in Haaretz, stating that Livneh’s story is “largely accurate,” but he claims that he wasn’t at the time working for Keshet, and he called her, not his secretary. “What adults do in their lives, in their private homes in the context of personal relationships, is a private matter,” he said. In relation to Kotler, Gilady said he doesn’t remember speaking to her at all. However, “I never intended to harm anyone, and if my behavior caused any grief, I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said Monday that Gilady would never have dared to act like this “if he hadn’t known he was protected.”

“Gilady was not just protected because of his power in the industry,” she wrote on Facebook. “He was protected by an entire culture that accepted the degradation and disrespect of women.”

Gal-On applauded the wave of women who have been coming forward in recent weeks to tell their stories of sexual assault and harassment.

“And to all the harassers and assaulters who are sitting there, still protected,” she wrote: “Did your chair just move a little? That’s the earth shaking.”

In a separate allegation on Monday, journalist Hadas Shtaif posted an email online from Yoram Zack, the producer and director of Keshet’s Big Brother. In the email, which was sent to all Keshet employees seven years ago, Zack addressed “the seductive girls of Keshet, the crafty ladies of Mako, the laid-back women of Channel 24.” He then went on to discuss how he awoke with a morning erection, and repeatedly pleasured himself before showing up to work that day. He continued with some work-related information, and signed the email: “You women look great, kisses, Yoram.”

In an internal email sent to Keshet employees and publicized by Hebrew media outlets, Zak apologized for the email, blaming a poor attempt at humor.

"I thought at the time it was funny," he wrote. "Reading it now, seven years later, makes me cringe with embarrassment.... I didn't intend to hurt anyone, just to make them laugh. Of course I was wrong." 

Back in 2011, during the third season of Big Brother, Zack came under fire after he was heard on the show’s live feed sexually harassing a contestant during a sound check. Zack was heard making explicit sexual comments about a woman in the house, Dana Ron.

At the time, Keshet apologized for an error that allowed those comments to air, and said they were an internal sound check conversation that the contestants themselves did not hear. Zack remained with the program until he departed earlier this year after 10 seasons.

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