(photo credit: (Channel 10))
“Aleph,” the woman who lodged complaints against Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev and former Public Security Ministry director-general Hagai Peleg, stood in front of a crowd of cheering supporters in front of the Tel Aviv Museum on Thursday, to protest violence against women and reveal her face and her name.
“I am waiving my right to confidentiality,” she declared. “My name is Orly Innes. Over the past few weeks, I have been given a new name – Aleph. Well, I’m no longer Aleph.”
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“I am not hiding. I am not ashamed. I didn’t do anything wrong. I came here this evening to say, ‘Enough.’ This is me. This is my name. This is my face. I waive the confidentiality, the blurrings, and the partial concealment that has been my lot in the past few days.”
Innes, 46, who has a doctorate in social work from the University of Haifa, has headed the Public Security Ministry’s “City without violence” program, which works with local authorities nationwide, since 2004. A divorcee with four children, Innes said she had to come out in the open and fight back because she had urged so many women over the years to complain about sexual abuse. But, she added, she had also learned about what it cost to speak out.
“In the past few weeks since I dared to complain, I have been attacked mercilessly. With unprecedented madness, many are occupied in an effort to blacken my personality, my credibility, my lifestyle and my intentions. A large part of what has been published is lies, distortions and falsehoods. They bring quotes from the interrogation room that were never said, things that I allegedly said that have nothing to do with reality.”
Innes added that people said she was a strong woman and asked how it was possible that anyone would harass her or mistreat her and why it was she didn’t complain earlier.
“This is an illegitimate question, as anyone who understands about victims knows,” she replied.
At the end of her fiery speech, Innes said, “I wish to say what is obvious but needs restating for those who still do not get it: When a woman says ‘no,’ she means ‘no.’”
Shortly before Innes appeared on television, a source close to Bar-Lev said she had “chosen to show her face but unfortunately, she did not choose to show her real face. One should wonder about her real motives for complaining against Cmdr. Bar-Lev, years after the time of the incident, and specifically, at this time.”
The source was referring to the fact that Innes’s complaint surfaced weeks before Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch was due to appoint a new Israel Police chief. Bar-Lev was a front-runner in the race for the position.
“It would be appropriate for Aleph (Innes), who makes a pretense of working in education, to learn how to handle her personal and professional life in a manner that respects her profession. We find it amazing that Aleph, who presents herself as a victim, has chosen to conduct an aggressive campaign against Bar-Lev and his family, and does not refrain from any means to do so,” the source said.
Also on Thursday, the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department said that media reports on Bar-Lev’s seven-hour questioning session a day earlier regarding suspicions of sexual offenses against Aleph and another complainant, “Mem,” were “inaccurate.”
The statement came after a number of reports said Bar-Lev had passed a lie-detector test during questioning.
“Following the interrogation, the PID decided that additional investigative activities were required,” it added.
“We recognize an attempt by various elements with a vested interest to influence the investigation, including the planting of false information and inaccurate messages in the media, and including fabricated quotes attributed to the investigation team,” the PID said.
The PID said parts of the media were filled with “false information on the investigation and its results.
“We are working as quickly and methodically as possible, and are
maintaining a media blackout on the investigation in order to not
disrupt it,” the PID said.
During questioning, Bar-Lev denied Innes’s complaint of an incident of
sexual harassment in Eilat two years ago, and denied raping Mem.
Mem said she had been drugged by a female acquaintance of Bar-Lev’s and
brought to a Herzliya hotel room. Bar- Lev also denied that a three-way
sexual encounter took place during the alleged incident five years ago.