A second leading figure on the Israeli media scene has temporarily stepped down following accusations of sexual harassment.
Gabi Gazit, a well-known radio personality and TV talk-show host, announced Thursday he was going on a voluntary leave of absence after four women came forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior, including forcing them to kiss him against their will.
Gazit's move follows the decision by Israeli media mogul Alex Gilady this week to “temporarily step aside” as president of Keshet Broadcasting amid a series of accusations, including two women claiming that Gilady raped them.
Gazit discussed the accusations against Gilady in a radio interview on Tuesday and appeared dismissive. “I assume that 45 years ago, I patted a woman’s butt,” he said.
Shortly after the interview, Dana Weiss, an Israeli news anchor and diplomatic correspondent for Hadashot News, tweeted that Gazit himself was an abuser. She claimed he forced her to kiss him 15 years ago. At least three more accusers have since spoken out against Gazit, including former 103FM colleagues who made similar claims that he forced them to kiss him. In a tweet on Wednesday, Army Radio police reporter Hadas Shtaif said she was in touch with several more accusers, including one woman who claims Gazit groped her at a television studio with other people present.
Or Celkovnik, the CEO of 103FM, said the station was thoroughly investigating the claims against Gazit.
On his own morning radio show on Wednesday, Gazit, 71, rejected the allegations against him, saying they “never happened. Period.”
Gazit's announcement comes on the heels of Gilady's decision on Thursday to step away from Israeli TV network Keshet Broadcasting, where he is president. At least four women have come forward to accuse the media mogul of sexual harassment and assault, including TV journalist Oshrat Kotler, who says he propositioned her during a job interview; newspaper columnist Neri Livneh, who claims Gilady exposed himself to her during a business meeting at his home; and two women who accuse him of raping them.
Gilady, a former sports executive at NBC who is also Israel's representative to the International Olympic Committee, claims not to remember the Kotler incident and denies the rape accusations. But he said Livneh's claim was "mainly correct" and apologized for it.
In a statement Monday, Keshet chair Drorit Wertheim called the women's testimonies “saddening and very painful. Regardless of the details of the cases themselves, the circumstances and the passage of time, I wish to offer support to anyone who feels hurt or humiliated as a result of improper and unacceptable conduct. ... Together with Keshet’s management I continue to be whole-heartedly committed to ensuring that we provide a secure and protected work environment to anyone who works with us."
The allegations and high-profile resignations in Israel can be seen as a response to the #MeToo movement that sprung up in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and numerous other allegations of harassment and assault against prominent figures in Hollywood.