Radio host off the air after sexual-harassment allegations
Gabi Gazit takes leave following complaints by 4 women
After four women accused radio host Gabi Gazit of harassment and assault, he announced Thursday evening he would be taking a leave of absence.
On Tuesday, journalist Dana Weiss accused Gazit on Twitter of forcibly kissing her on the mouth every time they would meet in the hallway when they worked together 15 years ago.
On Thursday, three more women came forward, as Gazit – who up until now hosted a show on 103FM – denied allegations he seemed to admit earlier in the week.
Posting on Facebook on Thursday, Shimrit Scornik Peleg said the radio host attacked her 13 years ago.
“You have no shame,” she wrote. “A pathetic liar. You kissed me on the mouth as well. A wet, disgusting kiss that will accompany me the rest of my life.” Scornik Peleg said she was just starting out in her career in media relations when she encountered Gazit in a kitchenette at a local radio station.
“You pushed me against the fridge by surprise,” she wrote. “It’s hard for me to even think about it again.”
And a woman speaking anonymously on Army Radio on Thursday morning said Gazit attacked her when he was her landlord.
“I came to extend my contract, and he knocked me on to the bed and kissed me against my will,” she said.
Shortly after that allegation was made, a woman who worked with Gazit at 103FM 10 years ago told Haaretz that he touched her against her will and warned her against complaining.
“He would freely touch and caress women in the office and nobody said anything,” said Racheli Fish Ben-Israel. “One day he touched her rear, and when she asked him to stop he joked, ‘Why, because you’ll complain to the police?’ I said, ‘No’ and he said, ‘Right, because there are things you don’t do.’”
Weiss, Channel 2 News’s chief political analyst, appeared on Army Radio Thursday morning to discuss her accusation and defend herself.
“It is 2017 and what may have been okay once is not okay now,” she said. “I don’t even know if it was meaningful to him – he just passed by and kissed me on the mouth because, why not? Because he could.”
Weiss said in the two days since she first spoke out, she has been doubted and criticized, and “now I understand why women are silent, why women don’t speak up.” People, she said, have implied maybe she exaggerated, and maybe it didn’t really happen, and why did she wait so long to say anything, that maybe she’s doing it just for the ratings. “Now think about women who don’t have the platform I have. Why would they speak up?”
On his radio show on Sunday, before he had been publicly accused of these actions, Gazit said he wouldn’t be shocked if they were forthcoming.
“I have no doubt that soon enough someone will tell a story about me from 45 years ago, I’m ready for it,” he said on Sunday, adding: “Last night I told my son, ‘Get ready, because, if we’re talking about stories from 50-60 years ago, I’m next in line.’”
But on Wednesday, Gazit said that Weiss’s accusations “never happened, period.”
On Thursday, reporters were waiting for Gazit outside his office when he finished his show. All he would say to their questions was, “My reaction was already given on my show” and that he would not be saying anything further.
According to Or Celkovnik, Gazit requested to go on leave and his request was granted.
“Therefore he will not be returning to the microphone on Sunday,” Celkovnik wrote on Twitter.
“As I said this morning, 103FM unequivocally condemns all harassment and sexual assault and sees the struggle against this phenomenon as having paramount importance.” Celkovnik wrote on Twitter.
Gazit is far from the only media figure in Israel to be accused of such actions over the past week. On Wednesday, Keshet president Alex Gilady stepped aside after several allegations were made against him, including rape. And on Tuesday, a Haaretz reporter accused veteran TV host Haim Yavin of sexual harassment. Last year, two women accused the mostly retired Yavin of sexual assault, claims he has denied.
According to Greer Fay Cashman, The Jerusalem Post’s longtime media reporter, Yavin’s behavior was an open secret.
“In the days when I was frequently in the television building as reporter covering the Israel Broadcasting Authority, female employees would hesitate to get into the rather cramped elevator with Yavin, especially if no one else was with him,” she said. “They also found excuses whenever possible not to be alone with him in his office.”