Knesset honor to go ahead for singer who faced underage sex allegations

Knesset honor to go ahead for singer who faced underage sex allegations

Associates of MK Nava Boker say award for Eyal Golan relates to his music, not his character; 5 lawmakers say honor ‘spits in the faces of victims of sexual violence’

Israeli singer Eyal Golan (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Israeli singer Eyal Golan (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Singer Eyal Golan will be honored at the Knesset on Tuesday despite objections from lawmakers who say he should be removed from the ceremony over a past criminal investigation, since dropped, over alleged sex offenses against minors, according to a television report on Monday.

Associates of MK Nava Boker of the Likud party, who led the Knesset’s lobbying committee to nominate Golan, told the Hadashot news outlet that she does not intend to fold in the face of the criticism, and noted that the honor to Golan and 11 other artists was granted by a parliamentary lobby and not the Knesset itself.

The sources also said that Golan, who is expected to attend the ceremony, was chosen for his contribution to music rather than as a statement about his character.

The singer’s production company slammed the attempt to stop the singer being honored, saying that it was a “disgraceful attempt” by five MKs to “cause injustice to an innocent person,” as the investigation into suspicions that he engaged in sexual encounters with underage girls was closed without charges.

The statement concluded by claiming Golan is “as white as snow.”

Knesset member Nava Boker, June 14, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

After invitations to the ceremony were issued, lawmakers Tamar Zandberg, Mossi Raz and Michal Rozin of the Meretz party, Mickey Rosenthal of the Zionist Union faction and Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint (Arab) List, wrote to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelsein asking him to rescind Golan’s award.

The five lawmakers told Edelstein that the award was particularly galling, coming at a time when attempts are being made in Israel to raise awareness of violence towards women.

“The recognition of the man as an esteemed artist spits in the faces of victims of sexual violence and it symbolizes that the Israeli parliament unequivocally prefers the attackers,” they wrote.

On Tuesday, thousands of women went on strike and tens of thousands rallied across the country to protest the deaths of 24 women killed since the start of the year by a partner, family member, or someone known to them, and what they say is the authorities’ failure to stem a sharp increase in violence against women.

Last week Boker implied the lawmakers’ actions were hypocritical and compared the dropped case against Golan to non-binding police recommendations to press charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It’s interesting that when the police recommend a prime minister be brought to trial, then it’s excellent for them to decide his fate. But when it comes to the same police that closed the case against Eyal Golan and dismissed the suspicions against him, it’s not right,” Boker said.

Women in Jerusalem’s Safra Square protest violence against women, December 4, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Associates of Golan on Thursday told Hadashot the singer was infuriated by the letter from the five lawmakers, and hinted that the objections stemmed from the fact that Boker is a member of the ruling coalition.

“Maybe for once, grow up! There are things that are above coalition-opposition,” an unnamed associate said.

Edelstein responded to the storm, saying in a statement that he “has no authority to intervene in the events of the lobby, and in any case he has no connection to the decision.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 5, 2014 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Golan was interrogated by the police in 2014 on suspicion that he engaged in sexual encounters with underage girls.

The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office later announced it would drop the charges due to lack of evidence.

Golan denied the allegations.

The singer was found guilty in 2014 of evading taxes and falsifying billing on income of NIS 2.6 million ($750,000). He had to pay a fine of NIS 75,000 ($20,000) and did four months of community service at an old-age home in Rishon Lezion.

In 2015, Golan’s father was sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted of procuring minors for purposes of prostitution, among other offenses. He was charged with using his son’s fame as a well-known performer to take advantage of the girls, knowing that they suffered socioeconomic hardship and had difficulties at home.

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