Veteran radio host goes on leave amid accusations of sexual assault

Veteran radio host goes on leave amid accusations of sexual assault

Gabi Gazit asks for vacation from Radio 103FM after at least four women claim he touched, kissed them against their will

Radio host Gabi Gazit seen here working at the radio station of 103FM on July 5, 2010. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Radio host Gabi Gazit seen here working at the radio station of 103FM on July 5, 2010. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Long-time Israeli radio personality and TV talk show host Gabi Gazit on Thursday asked to go on a leave of absence in the wake of accusations of sexual harrasment by four women.

Gazit, 71, will skip his his regular scheduled program this coming Sunday on Radio 103FM.

“In the follow-up to a thorough inquiry by me, concerning Gabi Gazit, the broadcaster notified me that he is asking to go on vacation,” tweeted Radio103FM director Or Celkovnik.

“I accepted his request, and therefore he won’t return to the microphone this coming Sunday,” Celkovnik continued. “As I said this morning, Radio 103 completely condemns sexual harassment and assaults and sees the campaign against the phenomenon of paramount importance.”

During a radio interview on Tuesday about harassment claims against Alex Gilady, president of television’s Keshet Broadcasting group, Gazit said dismissively, “I assume that 45 years ago I patted a woman’s butt.”

Later that day Dana Weiss, the diplomatic correspondent and sometimes anchor of the Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2), tweeted that Gazit had engaged in such behavior more recently.

Channel 2 anchor Dana Weiss. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

“Think carefully, Gabi Gazit. Even 15 years ago you did that, and more. For instance, insisting on a kiss on the mouth in chance meetings in the corridor,” she said. “Why? Just because. Because you can, part of your routine.”

On Wednesday, during his morning show on Radio 103FM, Gazit rejected the allegations.

“Everything that was written and published yesterday by Ms. Weiss never happened. Period.”

In an interview on Army Radio Thursday morning, Weiss doubled down on the accusations.

“This is not an act of revenge, but rather an opportunity for social reform,” she said, alluding to the flood of women who have come out to accuse men of assault and harassment in recent weeks as part of the #MeToo campaign.

She said that she had chosen to speak out about her experiences due to the fact that Gazit never changed his behavior.

Weiss also said that she felt compelled to comment on Gazit’s mockery of #MeToo, the social media campaign of solidarity among women who say they were sexually harassed or assaulted that began when Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of rape and sexual assault by dozens of women.

“Every woman has a pile of serious and less-serious stories,” she said. “You have to wake up and tell people: It’s 2017 and what was okay then is not okay now. I doubt Gazit even noticed when he did it.”

At least three more accusers spoke out against Gazit.

Shimrit Scornik Peleg wrote on Facebook that Gazit had kissed her against her will 13 years ago.

“Gabi Gazit, you’re shameless. You pathetic liar,” she wrote. “You also kissed me. A wet, disgusting kiss that will stay with me until my dying day.”

Screen capture from video of a television interview with founder of the Keshet media group Alex Gilady. (YouTube/23TV)

Rachel Fisch Ben-Israel posted on Facebook that Gazit sought to damage her career in retaliation when she protested his harassment.

“I wonder how much longer this vile creature will persist in his denial,” she wrote. “When one morning, when I was [still] working at 103FM, he stroked me down my back and I told him to stop, it led to him telling the head producer that I was a bad producer and he didn’t want me to sub on his show any more.”

Another anonymous woman told Army Radio of a similar incident.

“Gabi Gazit owned my apartment,” she said. “When I came to extend the lease, he push me onto the bed and kissed me on the mouth without my consent.”

In a tweet on Wednesday, Army Radio police reporter Hadas Shtaif said she was in touch with several more accusers, including one woman who said Gazit had “sexually assaulted her with other people present at the television studios years ago — cupped her breasts and more.”

Celkovnik, the CEO of 103FM, said the station was thoroughly investigating the claims against Gazit.

On Monday, Neri Livneh, who writes for the Haaretz daily, penned an article in which she described an encounter with Gilady, the president of Keshet, which happened 18 years ago. In addition to leading Keshet, one of the longtime concessionaires in the hugely popular Channel 2, Gilady is Israel’s representative on the International Olympic Committee.

Livneh said she chose to speak up about the incident in support of Channel 10 anchor Oshrat Kotler, who last week told viewers she received an “indecent proposal” to further her career in exchange for sexual favors 25 years ago from Gilady, when he was CEO of Keshet.

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