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Israeli Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar, Rumored in Sex Scandal

gideon saar

Gideon Sa'ar, 'empowering women' through his own empathic 'powers'

Word is just beginning to break inside Israel about a possible sex scandal involving a “senior Israeli political figure.”  Several days ago, the political affairs correspondent for a major Israeli newspaper was interviewed on Channel 10 (just prior to 6:00 mark) about stories that were too hot to handle.  After the interviewer asked him for specifics, he hesitated a long while and then mentioned the above information.

I began to put out word and an Israeli feminist blogger queried a friend who knew another reporter who told her the figure being spoken of was education minister, Gideon Sa’ar, age 45.  An excellent Hebrew bio is here. This identification has subsequently been confirmed by a second reporter which makes me confident that the story has legs.  More on the specific claims in a bit.

Sa’ar is a Likud Party stalwart, and was voted number two on the parliamentary list in the party primary, behind Bibi Netanyahu.  He is a former deputy speaker of the Knesset and has served on the ethics committee (!).  In the new government, he’s serving as education minister, where he has been Im Tirzu’s water-carrier attempting to insinuate the group’s Zionist nationalist agenda into the school curriculum.

Further, Sa’ar seems to be ‘down with the kids’ and is known for DJing in the Tel Aviv club scene.  Sa’ar may be the only senior government minister in the world who DJs.  His favorite club appears to be the local hot spot, Gilda, where the entertainment pages repeatedly highlight his appearances.  In 2008, Maariv wrote that Sa’ar DJ’ed deep into the night at the club.  The name of the bar means “guild” and one of Israel’s major entertainment sites described Gilda as “a guild of alcoholics,” whose owners are apparently grand figures in the night-life of Tel Aviv:

“The girls here are not shy about climbing onto the tables, while the bartenders fill the space with alcohol and adrenalin.”

The alcohol and adrenalin (along with sex hormones) may explain what follows here.

He got his start in politics in the youth movement called Noar Ha’Techiyah (affiliated with Geula Cohen and her former far-right party, Techiya), out of which also sprang Tzachi Ha’Negbi, yet another Likud former minister who resigned his post amidst scandal.

Sa’ar’s wife, Shelly, started an outsourcing company called Manpower Professional, which appears to quite successful.  They have two children.  He served in the infantry, where he was a sergeant and also served in intelligence in the Golani Brigade.

Saar also had the distinction of appointing a chief science advisor to the ministry, Gabi Avital, who doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming.  Avital also believes that women’s mental capacity is inferior to men, meaning they should not be allowed to serve critical functions in the IDF or in professional jobs.  When the public (and real scientists) got wind of the guy’s views, he resigned pronto.

It may be no accident that Sa’ar in Knesset voted against a bill (Hebrew) that would empower the government to investigate corruption.  When you read further you may not be surprised to find out why. During his political career, he has championed women’s issues as head of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, the first male to serve this role.  It does seem odd that a man was appointed to help improve the status of women in Israel, and blogger Hannah Beit Halachmi noted this in a blog post (Hebrew) when he assumed the job.  It wasn’t at all unusual as far is Sa’ar is concerned, as he seems to have the welfare of women at the ‘core’ of his very being:

People don’t understand why I freely chose this role.  It arises from my world view and my activism in this field, which characterizes part of my personal identity.  I’m very proud of this.  Generally, women say they have to excel in comparison to men in order to succeed.  When I was chosen to lead this committee I understood for the first time since I entered public life that it was up to me to prove myself precisely because I was a man [advocating on behalf of women].

orly innes

Dr. Orly Innes

Even odder, was a report last year in News1 that Saar “had intimacies” (by which News1 was alluding to an affair) with Dr. Orly Innes, whose own career is dedicated to the empowerment of women.  She is best known to the public for her charge that she was raped by a former candidate for national police chief, Uri Bar Lev.  In fact, News1 implies that Sa’ar began the relationship with Innes while comforting her over the stress of the Bar Lev case.  How kind and generous of him to offer the poor woman a shoulder to lean on.

While the alleged affair/intimacy with Sa’ar appears to have been consensual, you’d think a married man, heading the Knesset committee on the status of women, and who holds a law degree and worked for the attorney general (indeed as an assistant prosecutor), would conduct himself differently.  At the least.

Now on to the subject of tonight’s post.  According to my source, every serious journalist and politician in Israel knows but can’t publicly report that Sa’ar, on one of those nights partying in a Tel Aviv club (presumably Gilda), grabbed a teen-age girl and pushed her into a restroom.  While my source clearly wasn’t inside the bathroom and doesn’t know precisely what went on behind closed doors, he told me: “You can imagine what happened.”  I hear some pretty wild things go on in Tel Aviv club bathrooms.

The fact that the individual with whom he’s alleged to have dallied may’ve been underage also exacerbates the charge.  If she was under 16 (and I do not know her precise age), the act would be considered a crime.  Even if she was above 16 and he used any form of physical or emotional duress, it would potentially be a crime.  Which means the Tel Aviv police should be investigating the particulars to determine this.

For a closer look at the carryings on of the Tel Aviv night scene, you can watch a Puma shoe video produced by another Tel Aviv club promoter, who was also implicated in the fake Gaza flotilla video.

Whether what happened between Sa’ar and this women was consensual (if she was above the age of consent) or not no one knows presently, as she hasn’t filed a complaint.  But it appears only a matter of time before more facts are exposed.  In fact, if you’re an Israeli reporter reading this, you might want to start by asking around Gilda and its customers what happened that night and what they saw.  There are also rumors that Sa’ar has engaged in similar indiscretions with his female staff and that he may’ve had an affair with another Knesset member from a party with quite a different political orientation.  Bi-partisanship is a wonderful thing in politics, but when it comes to sex it makes for strange bedfellows.

What we may have here is a repeat of the Moshe Katsav incident, in which the disgraced former President was convicted of sexual assault against multiple women victims, including members of his own staff.  And this may explain the motives of the sources who’ve come forward to me, who do not wish to see a repeat of that sordid affair.  In Katsav’s case, his flagrant womanizing and affairs were widely known in the media and for years, but not reported, thus confirming a perverse sense of entitlement among Israeli politicians (like Sa’ar).

It’s important to note that while I strongly believe the above events occurred largely as I described them, they are rumors (albeit conveyed by trustworthy sources) without any concrete substantiating evidence.  Since the victim of the Tel Aviv club incident hasn’t made a complaint (yet) there can’t be.  But the Israeli media cannot yet report this story and because I believe it is an important one, I’ve decided to publish it myself.

I should also make clear that I have the names of more than one Knesset member with whom he is alleged to have had affairs, but aside from it being a bizarre menage/melange, it doesn’t rise to the gravity of possibly having sex with a teenage girl in a public restroom.  That is why I haven’t made the names public.  A friend has reminded me as well that Saar has children and that this news will cause them pain.  And there is the teen-age victim of this story who may not wish her own identity known.  As a result of this, that may happen though I hope it does not, if she does not wish it too.  But I have to weigh the pain Sa’ar may’ve caused and the fact that such a public figure, if he has behaved atrociously, should be held accountable for his actions.  Public good, in this case, trumps private pain.

The closest any of this has come to actual publication is a story in News1 reporting that Yediot Achronot had prepared for publication an expose about Sa’ar and his “personal conduct.”  The story was killed by the publisher, who is a close personal friend of Sa’ar.  It is said to have contained information that would embarrass the minister, including “among other things,” his affair with Orly Innes.  UPDATE: News1 has just published a story about this blog post as well.

If my story is true, it only proves how truly delusional some people are.  They pride themselves on empathy for women, all the while exploiting them, in fact loving them to death.  How, truly is Gideon Sa’ar advancing the status of Israeli women by sleeping with them serially (all the while being married)?  Is this the type of behavior a former prosecutor engages in?  Where is his judgment?  Is this guy thinking with his brain (if he has one) or some other part of his anatomy (no, don’t answer that).  The only thing I can think of that would make an otherwise sober individual do such things might be drugs or liquor (both plentiful in Tel Aviv clubs including Gilda).  But lots of men don’t even need such an excuse, so who knows?

And what does it say about the State of Israel, the government of Israel, and the Likud Party, that its education minister may have serial sexual liaisons with women?  What type of “educational” message is that sending Israel’s youth? One wonders why the rest of the Knesset is spending its time destroying Israeli democracy by invoking an anti-boycott law which will criminalize speech, instead of ferreting out potential wrongdoing by people like Sa’ar.  On the other hand, if Knesset members spent more time partying in clubs with Sa’ar and Avigdor Lieberman (a former club bouncer), perhaps they wouldn’t get into as much mischief on the floor of the Knesset.

Scandals like this, while they happen in parliaments throughout the world, don’t usually happen amid a backdrop of political dysfunction such as characterize contemporary Israel.  As such, this story is emblematic of corruption endemic within Israeli society.  It is reflective of the general decline in democratic values too, that no reporter or editor inside Israel feels capable to tackling this story. All that being said, I must add that there are a few brave Israelis who’ve been willing to share what they know with me in the hope that I may be able to penetrate the veil concealing Gideon Sa’ar’s alleged deeds, along with his impunity.  Those good people deserve all of our thanks.  They, though in the minority, represent the best that Israel has to offer.  Thanks for research assistance from a number of people who wish to retain their anonymity.

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{ 38 comments… add one }

  • Izik July 14, 2011, 3:50 AM

    Too long.

    You’re shameless – suggesting that he may be involved in rape without any serious proof.

    This isn’t America – we don’t push our noses into people’s beds.

    While I may not personally appreciate Sa’ar’s active sex life, I also don’t really care. As long as he doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s his business.

  • Asaf July 14, 2011, 4:42 AM

    Orly Innes was not raped nor did she filed a complaint about rape. she said she was sexually harassed and the case was closed after Bar-Lev apologized for his sexual misconduct and that was good enough for Orly Innes. Bar-Lev was questioned for alleged rape but no charges were pressed because the women in question did not wish to complain and denied rape.

    Thumbs up for the rest of the post.

  • Asi July 14, 2011, 6:25 AM

    Shocking!!!

  • Anyn. July 14, 2011, 11:58 AM

    There is one thing that I find very strange in all this – what is a teenage girl doing at Gilda?

    Serving alcohol to people under age is a serious crime and most pubs wouldn’t risk it. Also, it’s not a teenager’s place, nor even popular with early 20′s. It’s expensive and the crowd tends to be older.

    • Richard Silverstein July 14, 2011, 7:43 PM

      Anyone can get just about anything in Israel for the right price including teenage girls gaining admittance to T.A. nightclubs. The night life guides say Gilda caters to an over 27 yr old set, which does skew a bit older.

      • Meni Zehavi July 16, 2011, 1:39 AM

        They let the girls in regardless of age. Otherwise, what would attract 27-plus-males to the place?

        • Anyn. July 16, 2011, 2:07 AM

          Meni and Richard, what you say can be true in theory, but in practice teenage girls are not the usual Gilda crowd. I’ve been there plenty of times and though not impossible, it is certainly unusual to find teenage girls there.

          I don’t what happened, and if anything happened at all, it just doesn’t sound right for the place.

          And Meni – you’ve got it all wrong. What attracts the girls to the place is the presence of good looking men.

          • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2011, 2:25 AM

            I don’t know for a fact that Gilda was the location of the incident. But that’s the club with which he appears to be most closely affiliated. If he hangs out there, he may also spend time in other clubs with rowdier reputations.

        • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2011, 2:21 AM

          Another review of the club I read said that the women were fabulous, the men boring. Don’t know if they were including Sa’ar in that description or not. But apparently he’s quite appealing to some women.

          • Sh July 20, 2011, 12:21 AM

            Gilda isn’t even a club. It’s a small, un-hip mainstream neighborhood bar – the kind that fits the likes of Sa’ar.

            Looks like there’s too little info on the matter to make it more than juicy gossip at the moment and if gossip is the case, I’ve heard some voices coming from journalist friends claiming that one of his more recent affairs were with MP Shelly Yechimovitch, no less (and as far as rumors go, he’s going through a divorce). But that’s just gossip.
            To be honest, until it goes criminal (and with proofs), as much as I hate him and everything he does day in and day out, that just won’t do.

  • Chayma July 14, 2011, 12:15 PM

    Oh come on,

    And what does it say about the State of Israel, the government of Israel, and the Likud Party, that its education minister may have serial sexual liaisons with women?

    As long it’s not rape, i don’t see that it’s a problem. Consenting adults and all that.

  • dani hamzizi July 15, 2011, 11:21 PM

    And what does it say about the united States ofamerica, the government of usa, and the democratic Party, that its president(clinton) may have serial sexual liaisons with intern(lewinsky) and there are oher woman claiming sexual miscondact from his side ?

    • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2011, 12:27 AM

      You want to talk about affairs & sexual liaisons? We can do that till the cows come home. But the pt of Sa’ar’s indiscretion is that he did it with a teenage girl. Clinton’s partners were above the age of consent & there was no criminal violations involved. Was he sleazy? Sure. Did he pay a political price for it? Sure. What about Sa’ar? What price has he paid? Will he even be investigated?

      • dani hamzizi July 17, 2011, 9:29 AM

        you said “How, truly is Gideon Sa’ar advancing the status of Israeli women by sleeping with them serially (all the while being married”
        thats been judgmental about consentual sex between adults.
        however you are not that judjmental about clinton and ohers…
        there are sex offenders in israel like in any oher western country’ and in cecent years israel fight this more then most countries.

    • Meni Zehavi July 16, 2011, 1:38 AM

      Erp… Clinton’s luck was that he was a president, and it is damn complicated to get that one down. If he were a Govt. Secretary, a Congressman, a Senator or a Governor at the time of the affair, he would be thrown away quite quickly. One who cannot keep his putz in his pants should not be entrusted with a position of a top-tier public servant. And that’s before we get to the possibility of a criminal offense in this case.

  • tova July 16, 2011, 1:44 AM

    if u have no proof why do submit the article?

    u are doing wrong to family wife & kids, don’t u have concision? u should be ashamed of yourself

    • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2011, 2:23 AM

      I don’t think you mean “concision,” but rather “conscience.” And yes, I not only have a conscience, I know how to spell the word.

      Frankly, I think Gideon Sa’ar should be ashamed of himself and you should be ashamed of him as well.

  • tova July 16, 2011, 2:54 AM

    Although I made a mistake in spelling the
    word conscience, but at least I have a one, unlike u an
    Old little man and unscrupulous seek thrills at the expense of people
    Destroying homes and families
    .God will pay you in accordance

    • Richard Silverstein July 17, 2011, 2:42 AM

      How can you have a conscience if you can’t spell the word? And you have to add ageism & ad hominem attacks to boot. You’re a pretty low character I have to say & on the verge of banning. It’s no surprise that you’re Orthodox & likely a settlerist to boot. Tell us where you live in Israel why don’t you & that will tell us a great deal about yr politics.

      • dani hamzizi July 17, 2011, 9:31 AM

        you are so steyotipical that its beginig to be silly…..

  • Grendal July 16, 2011, 3:26 AM

    This is really weak Richard. There are plenty of more interesting negative stories about Israel for you to cover, than some politicians sex life.
    Why not cover that “73% of 1,010 Palestinians in W. Bank, Gaza agree with ‘hadith’ quoted in Hamas Charter about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones, trees.”
    http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=229493

    • Meni Zehavi July 16, 2011, 5:32 AM

      AFAIK, that hadith refers to “the end of the days.” Bad enough, but it’s not something that people are expected to do in their everyday life. Speaking of which, traditional Jewish sources also have some rather unpleasant prospects for non-Jews for the messianic era. Anyone care to conduct a poll among Jews, how many of them agree with Maimonides’ ruling that no gentiles (at least, none of those who don’t subscribe to the so-called Noahide laws) should be allowed to live in the Holy Land when the Jews are strong enough to enforce that ruling?

    • Deïr Yassin July 16, 2011, 10:14 AM

      Why don’t you make a little research – or read Richard’s latest article – on The Israel Project (TIP) who sponsored this ‘poll’. According to their own agenda, their goal is to sell the Israeli settlements to the American public all while talking about peace.
      Here’s a ‘soft’ article to begin with:
      http://www.newsweek.com/2009/07/09/chosen-words.html
      Did you read the poll or do you only have JPost’s words for it ?
      And I wonder whether there’s a Hasbara Central feeding you with new topics every day. This poll has been posted thousands of times since yesterday. Or maybe you’re just all brainwashed …

    • Richard Silverstein July 17, 2011, 2:40 AM

      Why not find a more credible source than Jpost & The Israel Project if you want to debate the I-P conflict (& trash Palestinians in the process)??

  • dani hamzizi July 16, 2011, 11:52 AM

    so’ noe proff what so ever is nedded to post such accusation? you admit you dont even know where it happened ?
    us that ok ?
    he can sue you for libel in the us’ you really have no defence’ its easy money to sue you…

  • Stan July 17, 2011, 12:18 AM

    If you are this libelous and careless with the facts about a man, no wonder you are so off the mark about a whole country. Amit Segel from Channel 2 news investigated this and dismissed the whole thing (in court it’s called LIBEL). He called you “that known fantasist from abroad.” http://reshet.ynet.co.il/%D7%97%D7%93%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%AA/News/Opinion/Article,73488.aspx

    Amit Segel checked out these rumors and found them to be a crock of BS, while you gladly publish someone’s name and picture and charge them with being a sex offender with NO evidence whatsoever. But you won’t hesitate to call an innocent man a sex offender with no evidence, it’s all “for the cause” right Richard? Just so you can try to hit Israel with another stick. And you make fun of someone’s spelling to defend yourself, the tactics of an eleven year old.

    Go ahead and continue publishing wild unfounded claims based on your imagination, then make sweeping comments about them as if your claims are facts. Show everyone how terrible your judgement really is.

    • Richard Silverstein July 17, 2011, 2:27 AM

      Well, there are a few problems with Amit Segel. First, he himself is a bit of a fantasist having broadcast a story about Dr. Amiram Goldblum that was found to be libellous & Channel 2 ended up having to pay the good Dr. a handsome sum. So I guess it takes a fantasist to know one, eh? Further, Segel, being of the Orhodox religious nationalist camp does have his own axe to grind in this matter. And finally, Segel offered no proof whatsoever that my story is false. He merely stated that it was without offering anything of substance. Where I come from that’s called shoddy journalism. You may choose your own fantasist if you wish. I choose to believe the distinguished senior journalist who provided me this story. We’ll see who’s right.

      And how, pray do you know Sa’ar is an innocent man? And what, if any, personal or political interest might you have in declaring his innocence?

      My problem isn’t Israel, buddy so don’t go distorting my views. My problem is with the misdeeds of Israeli policymakers and intelligence agencies when they occur.

      I didn’t make fun of anyone’s spelling. Just as I would expect a Hebrew speaker to correct one of my Hebrew spelling errors, I correct English language errors if they’re serious enough. You call it 11 yr old tactics & I call it loving my language and asking others to respect it as much as I.

      My story isn’t based on MY imagination, but on the certainty of an Israeli senior journalist. So I’m afraid you’re striking out right & left today.

      While you’re at it why don’t you read this terrific piece of rapier wit by Hannah Beit Halachni in News1 which takes Segel apart piece by piece.

  • XSouthAfrican July 17, 2011, 5:29 AM

    First thing; They say Innocent till proven guilty and until that is done its best (IMHO) to leave this roumor alone for now.
    secondly I do enjoy reading your blog ( accept when you deal with roumors ) I would tuely love to read your take on the youth protest on the prices of rent (as writen on Ynet).

    I hope that this is the begining of a period when people have the guts to say no and put their foot down on subjects that they see as critical.

    BN before you redicule my spelling I have learning dissorder so..
    but I still hope u are able to read & and understand what i write despite the terrible spelling mistakes

    Shavua Tov

    • Richard Silverstein July 18, 2011, 9:43 PM

      I would never ridicule your spelling mistakes. Especially given the context you mentioned.

  • lori July 17, 2011, 6:17 AM

    i was waiting for this to be published!
    i couldnt understand how the hell hw got away with it. oh, Shelly Yechimovitz says Hi.. (;

  • The Nudnik July 17, 2011, 8:28 AM

    I have no idea, what Sa’ar did or if he did anything at all (and i do am not a supporter of him or the party he belongs to)
    But, in the US would you be able to get a conviction (or even an Investigation) based on the information you have ?
    You don’t know when, you don’t know the age of the girl (or even if it was a girl) you do not know the location.
    so what do you know ?
    That there are rumors in Israel, that Sa’ar did something.
    Based on that you post such article ? This may end being not any different then some of the rumors i read after googeling your name.

  • The Nudnik July 17, 2011, 9:44 AM

    A great piece at news channel 10 was shown tonight, It’s titled “The stain that stays”
    i recommend you’ll watch it.

  • Bill July 21, 2011, 9:15 AM

    NewsFlash buddy.
    Shelly did’nt start ManPower proffesional.
    She does’nt work there anymore either, for almost 2 years now.
    You should re-check your sources.

    • Richard Silverstein July 21, 2011, 9:54 PM

      News flash yourself, buddy. Take it up with Mako which published this report about Shelly Saar in 2009:

      ולאחר שהשלימה תואר ראשון במדעי המדינה ותואר שני בלימודי עבודה מאוניברסיטת תל אביב, פנתה שלי להקים במו ידיה את חברת “מנפאואר פרופשיונל”

      Are you arguing that they lied? Or that they’re ignorant? Or that they made it up? It says she founded the company “with her own hands.” Sounds pretty definitive to me. The article as I said written 2 yrs ago says she works there. You say she left 2 yrs ago. Which is it?

      Nice to know you’re on a first-name basis with “Shelly.” I can’t say the same. It would be helpful if instead of only telling me about the alleged mistake, you actually provided accurate information about where she does work.

  • Tziporah Livni July 21, 2011, 1:11 PM

    out of which also sprang Tzachi Ha’Negbi, yet another Likud former minister who resigned his post amidst scandal.

    What you meant to write, was yet another KADIMA former minister who resigned his post amidst scandal.

    Tzachai had already fled the Likud to KADIMA, when he had to resign his post. Like all the other dreck in KADIMA…Hirschson (Minister of Finance, convicted of corruption), Chaim Ramon (Minister of Justice…sex molester)… Olmert (Prime Minister, charged with almost every corruption crime in the book) …etc.

  • Dubi October 25, 2012, 2:55 PM

    I love your blog, and believe it is one of the best blogs around. However, I would I appreciate if you stop ridiculing people’s spelling mistakes. Even those of the fascists.
    Given the fact that many people who read the blog (like myself) are Hebrew speakers, I find this tendency to be
    very offensive.
    About Sa’ar: he is a known clown. He has ruined the education system. The average score in mathematics, 8th grade is 48. yet, he blames the Arab students, forgetting that it is his responsibility to improve their scores, as well. He is also a racist, and
    sends our kids to (mandatory) tours in the Occupied territories. Frankly, I think it is a good thing if kids would see the occupation regime. Yet…
    Please tell us more when you know.

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