'Fox News of Israel' host under fire for alleged sexist mocking of Labor MK

Channel 20's Eral Segal is seen mocking Stav Shafir, saying: "I want to be free and ride my bicycle without a seat."

Labor Party MK Stav Shaffir (photo credit: REUTERS)
Labor Party MK Stav Shaffir
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A talk show host on an Israeli television channel is under fire on Friday after a satirical skit about a Labor Party lawmaker was perceived by some as sexist.
In the segment, Erel Segal - a right-leaning media personality who appears regularly on Channel 20, a new outlet with primarily religious content that some have dubbed "the Fox News of Israel" – donned a red-headed wig for a send-up of Stav Shaffir, the young Knesset member from the Labor Party.
Segal is seen mocking Shaffir, saying: "I want to be free and ride my bicycle without a seat."
Shaffir reacted angrily to the skit, calling it "filth that was presented under the guise of a news broadcast."
The MK said Segal's act was an expression of "ugly, sexual fantasies" that border on sexual harassment.
The skit prompted Shaffir's Labor colleague, Ksenia Svetlova, to submit an official complaint to the state regulatory agency in charge of monitoring content on Israeli cable and satellite channels.
Svetlova said that the Council for Cable TV & Satellite Broadcasting has begun probing whether Segal's actions constitute a violation of behavioral norms that underpin state-sanctioned broadcast licenses.
Shaffir authored a newspaper column weeks ago in which she wrote that "riding a bicycle, hiking in nature, and playing music with people" gave her a sense of freedom and joy.
"I have no problem engaging in serious political arguments," she wrote. "I have dozens of these arguments every week. But when the other side has no more valid points to make, they go as low as possible."
A Channel 20 spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew-language sister publication Ma'ariv: "It's sad to discover that MK Shaffir did not devote three minutes to see the entire skit before making poisonous claims that have no basis in fact and that did not take place."
"Erel was talking about himself in the skit, but the MK once again misses no opportunity to stick it to Channel 20."
Segal also responded to the charges of sexual harassment, saying: "I invite you all to hear the segment with your own ears. I was talking about myself and laughing at myself. This deliberate distortion is a horrible attempt at snuffing out freedom of expression."