(photo credit: Courtesy)
Julia Salazar, a controversial candidate for the New York State Senate who has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for allegedly falsifying her life history, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman David Keyes of sexual assault in a tweet on Tuesday.
Keyes immediately denied the allegations.
“This false accusation is made by someone who has proven to be repeatedly dishonest about her own life. This is yet another example of her dishonesty,” he said in a statement.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Salazar said she was going to be “outed as a survivor of sexual assault” in an upcoming article in an unnamed publication and decided to preempt the disclosure.
“Before [the article] runs, I want to come forward and confirm that I was a victim of sexual assault by David Keyes – the prime minister of Israel’s spokesperson to foreign media. This story appears to be an effort to cast doubt upon my, and other women’s, accusations against Keyes. I’ve spoken to other journalists who were investigating accusations against David Keyes on background about this experience, but have never spoken on the record about it until now,” Salazar wrote.
Salazar has recently been involved in a controversy over her self-proclaimed Jewish lineage as well as her immigrant background – she claimed to be from Colombia when in fact she was born in Miami.
Following a story in Tablet magazine, Salazar admitted that neither of her parents are Jewish and that she began to identify as a Jew in college and underwent a conversion. However, that claim proved to be overstated, and critics have accused her of taking on a persona as a left-wing social democratic Jew to score political points.
The conversion also coincided with her moving from being a Christian pro-Israel activist to associating with far-left anti-Israel Jewish groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace.
Keyes, who replaced Mark Regev as Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman in 2016, was accused that year of sexual assault by a woman in his New York apartment in 2013. The American-born Keyes unequivocally denied the allegation by the alleged victim, who posted her claims on Facebook before quickly erasing them.
While Salazar was not named in the reporting from 2016, many of the accuser’s details match with her, including that she attended Columbia University and published an article on an anti-Israel blog about being denied entry to Israel in 2014.
Keyes, a social media and video expert, has been behind a series of viral posts featuring Netanyahu which have reached a wide audience worldwide.
Salazar explained in her tweet that she had not intended to come forward and accuse Keyes because it may have an adverse effect on other women in a similar situation.
“There’s a reason women don’t often come forward after a traumatic experience – because of the triggering and vicious responses that follow. I strongly believe sexual assault survivors should not be outed in this way, and am saddened by the effect this story may have on other women,” she wrote.
Shayndi Raice, a reporter for the The Wall Street Journal, corroborated Salazar's story. "The man had absolutely no conception of the word 'no.' No matter how often I said no, he would not stop pushing himself on me." Raice tweeted on Wednesday. "I was able to extricate myself quickly and it was a very brief and uncomfortable moment but I knew as I walked away I had encountered a predator."Yvette J. Deane contributed to this article.
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