Women’s rights groups and female lawmakers on Tuesday expressed outrage over a film award to actor Moshe Ivgy, who has been accused of sexual harassment.
Ivgy was awarded Best Actor in a Feature Film by the Haifa International Film Festival on Monday for his role in the film “The 90 Minute War.”
The veteran stage, film and television actor came under fire in February when half a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment. All six women said Ivgy harassed them while they were working together on various films, television shows, and plays.
The Israel Police in May announced that they had compiled sufficient evidence to prosecute the actor for sex crimes.
Senior Zionist Union lawmaker MK Shelly Yachimovich on Tuesday criticized the decision on her Facebook page, calling it “disgraceful.”
“There weren’t several other actors you could give this prize to who aren’t sexual deviants? What in God’s name do you think you are doing?” wrote Yachimovich on her Facebook page.
“A series of women fell victim to the pattern of behavior of sexual harassment, after the police have decided to prosecute him, and you (the judges), pretend that you are ‘professionals’ and ‘objective,’ and just ‘judging based upon his acting ability.'”
Despite the outrage and complaints lodged by women’s rights groups, the festival announced that it will not retract its decision and explained that festival judges base their decisions solely “upon the actors’ performance in their respective featured films.”
The Haifa International Film Festival management also said “management boards of film festivals across the world do not interfere with professional and independent decisions made by their own panels of judges. For that reason, the Haifa International Film Festival has no place interfering with this decision.”
In February the police announced there was an evidentiary basis to suspicions that Ivgy exploited his status to commit indecent acts and sexually harass three women in his workplace.
Of his six original accusers, three women were willing to cooperate with the police investigation. Inquiries into additional allegations against Ivgy cannot be taken further because they exceeded the statute of limitations.
Ivgy, who denied any wrongdoing, said in February that he would withdraw from acting for the duration of the probe.
“In light of the wave of reports rocking my life and causing my family much grief, I have decided to take a timeout,” Ivgy said in a statement. “I repeat – I did not harm a single person, man or woman.”