In Jerusalem, Monica Lewinsky walks off stage when asked about Clinton
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'It became clear to me I had been misled'

In Jerusalem, Monica Lewinsky walks off stage when asked about Clinton

Former White House intern says the interviewer violated an agreement not to broach the subject; ‘It is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves’

Monica Lewinsky (L) walks out of an onstage interview with Yonit Levi of Hadashot news in Jerusalem on September 3, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Monica Lewinsky (L) walks out of an onstage interview with Yonit Levi of Hadashot news in Jerusalem on September 3, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky abruptly left a stage in Jerusalem on Monday when asked whether she still expected an apology from former US president Bill Clinton, later saying the interviewer had backtracked on an agreement to steer clear of the issue.

“I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do this,” she said, and walked off after the first question, following a speech she gave on the perils of the internet at a conference organized by Hadashot news.

The interviewer, Hadashot News’s Yonit Levi, reached out her hand and then anxiously followed Lewinsky offstage as some of the stunned audience awkwardly clapped. The confused hosts then rushed Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid onstage to keep the event moving along.

Lewinsky later tweeted that it had been agreed before the talk that the subject was off limits and Levi had violated their agreement.

“When she asked me on stage, with blatant disregard for our agreement, it became clear to me I had been misled,” she said. “I left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not allow others to control their narrative.”

“I’m very sorry that this talk had to end this way,” she said.

American television personality Monica Lewinsky speaks at a conference of Hadashot News in Jerusalem on September 3, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In her speech Lewinsky spoke of the trauma of the investigation that led to Clinton’s impeachment, and which sent her spiraling into depression for a decade. She said that things were better now, but that had only happened recently.

In February Lewinsky wrote a personal essay for Vanity Fair on the 20th anniversary of the investigation into the affair, in which she admitted that she suffers from PTSD over the fallout from the investigation and publicity, and that the #MeToo movement had changed her perspective on the affair and its aftermath.

“I don’t think I would have felt so isolated if what happened in 1998 happened in 2018,” she told her Jerusalem audience. “By and large I had been alone. Publicly alone. Abandoned most by the main figure in this crisis, who knew me well and intimately.”

Former president Bill Clinton listens, during an interview on May 21, 2018, about a novel he wrote with James Patterson, “The President is Missing,” in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

She also told the audience that after the news broke of her affair with Clinton: “I was shunned from almost every community which I belonged to, including my religious community. That led to some very dark times for me.”

She blamed the web for spreading news of the scandal. She claimed that her 1998 affair with Clinton was the first time the internet became a major source of news. She said that within a day she went from a private individual to a public figure who was completely humiliated.

She then focused on the power of the internet to shame people, and the responsibility each person has with every click of the mouse.

Lewinsky wrote in the March edition of “Vanity Fair” that Clinton’s sexual relationship with her “was not sexual assault,” but “constituted a gross abuse of power.”

Clinton said in an interview in June with NBC’s “Today” show correspondent Craig Melvin that he felt his public apologies for the relationship were enough.

Taking the stage after Lewinsky’s departure, Lapid, who plans to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next elections, quipped: “Everything has happened to me but stepping in for Monica Lewinsky is a first. There is no way I’ll be interesting enough in the next few minutes but we’ll do our best.”

Hadashot said later it did its utmost to abide by all agreements made with Lewinsky. “The question asked was legitimate, worthy and respectful and in no way deviated from Ms. Lewinsky’s requests,” said company spokesman Alon Shani. “We thank Ms. Lewinsky for her fascinating speech to the conference, respect her sensitivity and wish her all the best.”

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