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The Strange Case of Likud Rock Star, Education Minister, Inveterate Womanizer, Gideon Saar

Current Israeli education minister, Gideon Saar, is a strange case in Israeli politics.  He’s young(ish), attractive, and popular with the Likud rank and file.  As a reward for tallying the second highest vote totals in the Party primaries he was appointed election campaign chair.  His performance wasn’t particularly stellar, though that could be just as much due to the inertness of the product he was pitching, Bibi Netanyahu.  At any rate, the Likud campaign fell flat and resulted in a massive fall-off from 42 seats in the past Knesset for the two merged parties, Likud and Yisrael-Beitenu, to 31 seats in the new Knesset.

Saar is often touted as a future prime minister when Bibi’s generation leaves the scene.  He’s popular, telegenic and charismatic in that button-down way that young right-wing Israeli political operatives have.

Shalom Yerushalmi on complaint by Gideon Saar staffer about his unfitness to be education minister

Shalom Yerushalmi on complaint by Gideon Saar staffer about his unfitness to be education minister

Saar has been education minister in the previous government.  In this position, he’s presided over a series of disastrous interventions in academic and curricular matters and allied himself with brutish nationalist advocacy groups like Im Tirzu.  Like Campus Watch here in the U.S., the Israeli group monitors so-called “post-Zionist” professors and academic departments.  It was Saar’s brilliant idea (probably planted there by his friends in Im Tirzu) to close Ben Gurion University’s political science department because, among other reasons, its chair published an article in the foreign press endorsing BDS.  That decision (still threatened but not implemented) didn’t go over well with academics within Israel or outside.

Saar also spearheaded the upgrade of the settler school, Ariel College, to an official national university, despite the fact that every other national  university in the country objected strenuously and threatened lawsuits against the move.  The minister clearly threw academic criteria out the window in favor of pure nationalist considerations and grandstanding for the settler-nationalist vote.  Ariel College has no more academic distinction than you average local community college, if that.

Gideon Saar Geula Even

Saar canoodling with Geula Even, girl friend # 2 after splitting with his wife (Anette Mosberg/Ynet)

Another peccadillo less well-known to Israelis is Saar’s serial womanizing.  I’ve published two posts here about an incident in the bathroom of a Tel Aviv club in which he allegedly had sex with a girl who may’ve been underage.  Several months ago, Saar separated from his wife.  Before that, I received word from an Israeli with a friend working in the Knesset.  Workers there were buzzing with reports that Saar was conducting an affair with one of his staff.  I decided, since I couldn’t corroborate the story with any other source, that I would hold off on reporting it.

Now, Shalom Yerushalmi reports in Maariv that this staff member has written to Bibi Netanyahu “pleading” that he not appoint Saar as a minister in his new government.  The reporter writes coyly, “she has her reasons.”

Maya katz

Maya Katz, whose affair overlapped Saar’s marriage and separation from his wife

As I wrote above, it’s widely known by those working in the Kneset that the woman in question is Maya Katz, 27.  In addition to serving on Saar’s staff, she is a Likud town councilor for Herzliya.  I can only imagine that at least part of the reason for her distress is that Saar now has a different steady girl friend, Channel 1 newscaster, Geula Even.  Hell hath no fury like an ex-mistress scorned.  But one thing all these women should know (as his wife undoubtedly learned) is that this Pretender for the Likud throne clearly likes the ladies and can’t be tied down to any particular one.

** UPDATE: Someone reputed to be Maya Katz (or at least, according to the report, a woman with her initials) has denied that she ever wrote a letter or complained about Saar’s “troubling behavior.”  There are many reasons a 27 year-old woman who’s had an affair with a powerful man and been jilted might write such a letter.  There are also many reasons such a woman would renounce the letter once it became public.

But if it is true that Katz did not write this letter, then someone else did.  That person has forged Katz’s name to a document which has harmed her and Saar.  But the latter in particular.  If that’s the case, Saar would certainly file a police complaint and demand the exposure of this individual.  But that hasn’t happened.  Why not? **

All of this is, of course, ironic considering as education minister, Saar helps set educational and ethical standards for Israel’s youth.  Only in a place like Israel could such irony be lost on the majority of the populace, who are only too ready to forgive the moral failings of their leaders since so many of them have so many (failings, that is).  Can anyone imagine a U.S. Secretary of Education shtupping underage girls, leaving his wife, having an affair with an aide, and running Obama’s re-election campaign??  Breathtaking in its audacity.

There are a number of moral quandaries I faced in reporting this story.  First, though she went a long way toward doing this herself, I’ve exposed Maya Katz and removed her privacy in this matter.  Had she not had an affair with one of the most powerful figures in the Likud Party and a potential future PM who is single-handedly trying to destroy academic freedom in Israeli universities, I might not have done so.  Further, the fact that her initials were published and that most of the Knesset staff already knew her full identity went a considerable way toward opening this story and her to public scrutiny.  Finally, her letter to the prime minister, though perhaps intended to be private, could not remain so since she was interceding in an important political appointment.  There will be those who believe I wronged Katz.  I can respect that.  But other considerations outweighed her right to privacy.

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{ 43 comments… add one }

  • Fred Plester February 8, 2013, 3:45 AM

    I see: born under the same star as Chris Huhne and David Mellor.

  • Arie Brand February 8, 2013, 3:49 AM

    It must be power (a prime aphrodisiac as Kissinger famously said) otherwise one can’t explain why a stunner like Ms.Katz would fall for an overweight schmuck like him.

    Let us hope that if his sins against academic freedom won’t undo him, his amorous excursions will do the job.

    • Fred Plester February 8, 2013, 7:42 AM

      Just being overweight, sadly, does not do it.

    • Elisabeth February 9, 2013, 3:51 AM

      Well Arie, I am not surprised at her choice. Don’t be distracted by her looks. Concentrate on what she is: A Likudnik, so something is fundamentally off with her morals and taste anyway.

  • Moti February 8, 2013, 5:38 AM

    You said: “Can anyone imagine a U.S. Secretary of Education shtupping underage girls, leaving his wife, having an affair with an aide, and running Obama’s re-election campaign?? Breathtaking in its audacity.”

    You mean like Senator Bob Menendez the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who flew to the Dominican Republic and allegedly engaged in sexual relationship with with underage girls ?

    Or do you mean like Ex. President Clinton. ? or do you mean like Governor Mark Sanford ? The list of US political figures involved in sex scandals’s is long and distinguish, i fear the us the Israeli natives do not come close.

    The fact that you are violating people’s privacy is horrifying in my opinion, specially in this context. I have no idea what is the motive of your sources, but from what i read via google other “scoops” brought to light on your blog were proven wrong in the past.

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 8:38 AM

      I wouldn’t bet against me on this one. But you’re welcome to do so. But you’ll be the one with egg on your face if you do.

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 8:40 AM

      You’ve conveniently ignored the very specific context in which I made my comparison which was to a member of the U.S. cabinet serving under the U.S. president. That was the appropriate equivalent to Saar’s role in Israel’s government.

      I wasn’t making the case that no U.S. politicians engaged in adulterous affairs. That would be foolish. So your comment is essentially a non sequitur & compares apples to peanuts.

      As to invading people’s privacy, sorry you don’t get any traction on that either. Katz is a publicly elected city councilor, not a private citizen. She also interceded in the appointment of a cabinet minister. If you want to do such things you’ve essentially made the decision that your identity will become known. Indeed, it should become known since these are all affairs of state and the public has a right to know who’s attempting to influence these decisions and why.

      • kalte Lokshen February 8, 2013, 9:10 AM

        Mr. Silverstein,

        The hatred towards the Right is Israel spills from every word you type. I would define your article as “inaccurate” – not to use the true word which is harsher. One question that I ask my self is where have you taken the liberty to falsify facts by writing “Ariel College has no more academic distinction than you average local community college, if that”. Taking into account the low level of US education, be it college or other, Israeli colleges are far superior to those in the US and Ariel college, now Ariel University is a research academic institute whose academic level was judged by experts from abroad who have no political inclination (like you do) and cited to be deserving to become a university.
        I shun your article, Mr. Silverstein, and think that it is more gossip and hatred than anything else.
        As such, I intend to not read any of your future articles.

      • Moti February 8, 2013, 9:21 AM

        You, if i am not mistaken are not god, heck you are not even an Israeli.
        What Maya Katz and Gidon Saar did or didn’t do, is their own business despite the fact the Saar is a public figure.
        Katz is not a publicly elected person, in Israel city councilors are not being elected by the public they are being appointed, she is very much a private citizen.

        You deliberately violated her privacy for the sake of airing rumors you aired prior, which accomplished nothing.
        There is no substance to this post, you published a bit of gossip nothing more.
        If the source for these allegations had any integrity he would have walked to the nearest police station and filled a complaint against Mr. Saar, and before you’ll reply with the usual outcry about the Israeli judiciary system i would like to remind you that: Olmert, Hirshzon, Katzav, Ashkenasi and many others were at least as powerfall if not more then Gidon Saar, against each there either was or is an active investigation. Some are actually spending time in Jail.

        You made the case that Israel politicians are far worse the those of the US because a member of Bibi’s cabinet allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with a minor. Shall i remind you some of the rumors about the sexual habits of
        former US presidents ?

        • Kfir February 8, 2013, 11:03 AM

          Just to keep the facts straight she is not a Likud council member but an independent one. If we’re imagining we’re reporters lets check our facts.
          To Moti – in Israel city council members are public figures which are elected by the city public. Even if they are not appointed (and they are) both of her positions are in the public service and she should be held responsible to her actions and to to the public.

        • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 2:26 PM

          Nonsense. First, I believe she WAS elected. Second, whether she was appointed or elected has nothing to do with anything. Lots of public figures including judges are appointed to their positions. Katz is a public figure. Further, if Saar is screwing around, shtupping underage girls & cheating on his wife all the while pretending to protect the virtue of Israel’s youth–you be that’s a public interest story & I’m gonna report it. If this was Shelly Yachimovich’s life or Haneen Zoabi’s you’d be egging me on. Yet another hypocrite.

          I don’t know that Saar violated any law. But he certainly behaved in an unethical manner in cheating on his wife. The Israeli public should know this esp. because of his own public position as a moral model on behalf of Israel’s educational system.

          You may want to be deaf, dumb & blind about these things, but most other Israelis don’t which is why I’m going to have a huge amount of site traffic today, the large majority from Israel.

          • Moti February 8, 2013, 3:26 PM

            Hey, it is well known, to anyone versed enough into Israeli politics, that Saar and Yechmovitz had a fling.
            Yet – to the best of my knowledge – though it certainly has an affect over Israeli politics you never reported as much.
            Why ?

          • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 5:48 PM

            I don’t report rumors unless they’re supported by a credible report. In fact, I didn’t report about Maya Katz because it was in the category of a rumor till Shalom Yerushalmi reported it. Once he reported it, it wasn’t. His information aligned with mine.

            As for publishing embarrassing stories about Yachimovich, did you not read my previous scoop about her collusion with Rina Matzliach to suppress news coverage of Eretz Chadasha? Are you really arguing that I only report stories injurious to Likudniks?

      • Nim February 8, 2013, 10:52 AM

        How is it that you are always right?
        Even when your “scoops” are completely wrong you find the way to throw the accusation on someone else rather then saying “I was a fool to believe”.
        Pretty amazing stuff that so many people continue to read here (including me), I wonder if all the rest around here are just looking at your behavior to be humorous as I do, while insulting many of your readers to you seems logical, I think many of the people here looking at you and thinking what a little man you are with no room to here other people comments.

        • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 2:16 PM

          You’re a pathetic hypocrite. You admit that continue to spend time here & pretend that you do it because you’re slumming through the left demimonde. I frankly don’t give a crap why you come here.

          But insults will earn you moderation. You future comments will not be approved till I find you house-trained enough to follow the rules & show the respect they demand. If you can’t, you’ll be out on your ass.

          How’s that for manners. Show manners & you’ll be treated accordingly. Show none & you’ll be treated in the manner you deserve.

          • Dudu February 12, 2013, 7:46 PM

            You do not disappoint, Richard. I came for the scoops, yet stayed for your delightful bedside manner.

          • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2013, 12:46 AM

            @Dudu: THanks, you made me laugh!

    • Isidore Abrahami February 27, 2013, 11:03 AM

      dearest beautiful Geula,

      Lets hope you come back to us and not stay with cheets and poliitciians. all of them are pedos… and liars. there is no honest poliitciian, you must know that.

      so, leave this cheat

  • Arieh Katz February 8, 2013, 8:13 AM

    Dr Mr Silverstein,

    I can respect your anti-Israeli motives but what you have done here is a crime, both legally and morally, with some serious implications on people’s lives.

    I have contacted my attorney in New York and plan to take you to court for this.

    I don’t understand how you can live with yourself and I will do the utmost to see that you are brought to justice.

    Arieh Katz,
    Pardes Hanna, Israel

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 8:34 AM

      Stand in line. You’re only the 10th person who’s made such threats. You’re welcome to do so. My attorney will look forward to hearing from you. By the way, could you give me the name of your lawyer. I’d like to call your bluff and be in touch with him to find out if he does truly represent you. Or whether you’re bluffing like all the other wankers who preceded you with such threats.

      Thanks for giving me a doctorate, but I am not a Dr. And not only do you not respect my motives, you don’t even understand them enough to know that they’re not “anti-Israel.” Now that’s a big comment rule violation. I doubt you’ll be back, but if you are read those rules before you comment again.

      What I especially like about comments from Israelis like this is that they come here because they know they can’t find the details of this story published in Israel. They read it. Then get in high dudgeon & flay me for doing precisely what they came here for–to learn the story. You’re a hypocrite. If you don’t want to know this story or learn the facts including the identities of the participants you don’t have to visit. But you did, didn’t you? H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E!

    • Moti February 8, 2013, 8:49 AM

      @ Arieh Katz

      Thank you for the good laugh.
      Though i do not agree with Dr. Silverstein and think he should have never published those rumors i do not see how you can win a case in court.
      Mr. Silverstein, didn’t fabricate those allegations, he received them from his source, who is an Israeli, or so i assume. I think that his source should have walked with these type of allegations to the nearest police station in Israel and filled a complaint against Mr. Saar, I know that if I was the one that would have been my course of action. The fact that no one has done so to date makes me skeptical about this story.

      • Lior February 10, 2013, 7:00 AM

        Mr Silverstein, you know better.
        Reffering this to the police only creates a huge buzz and by that serves the interests of those who started this rumor. You’re playing the win-win game, weather you’re the main player or just a tool, where your only published “facts” – are the facts that rumors exist.
        This post of yours, which joins the previos two, is based on nothing else than rumors. You start by mentioning there’s a rumor runing in the kneset, 2 lines afterwards you allow yourself to treat that as a known fact.
        Amazing how easy and yet perfectly legal it is. Creating such buzz out of nothing. Person with interests A starts a rumor, runs and tells his US blog possesing budy B , hey, there’s a rumor. True story, there’s a rumor. Bamm. To the print. If it’s not true, why won’t they turn to the police?

        These are private lives your dealing with. These are people with families. Children.
        And you just dont give a damn.

        (yes, I’m a related. Not to any of the mentioned above, and yet enough. Enough to see the personal damage you cause families. Those who are innocent of any crime. Those who are not ‘elected by the public’)

        • Richard Silverstein February 10, 2013, 8:58 PM

          @Lior: I didn’t say there was a “rumor” in the Knesset. I said my source & the rest of the Knesset knew they had an affair. When you work alongside some & consider them a colleague, you know about things like this when happen. That’s not a rumor. Besides, in Israel, a very small country, rumors (if you want to call it that) like this at this level almost always turn out to be true.

          In fact, there are other stories about Saar sexscapades I haven’t reported because I don’t feel they’ve been substantiated.

          It ain’t nothing. Besides this development clearly damages someone with whom you feel political affinity.

          I don’t ask or demand doubters like you to believe. You will find out the story is true in time.

          These are NOT private lives. A politician is not a private figure. A cabinet minister even less so. As for personal damage, that was done by Saar himself who seems to believe along with many powerful members of the Israeli elite that they can run roughshod over women and allow their egos & sex drive dominate their decisions. Unfortunately, there are wives betrayed and children involved. THey didn’t choose this. But if they were the only ones involved this would not be a public story. Gideon Saar makes this very much a public story & I will not back down from that one inch.

    • Shoded Yam February 8, 2013, 3:38 PM

      And through the ions of time, now taking its rightful place next to “Culam Acharei” and “Chazak ve Amatz” we once again hear that stirring ancient hebrew battle cry; “I’ll Sue” How pathetic. lol

    • Joe Ker February 8, 2013, 6:55 PM

      Excellent plan Mr. Katz!
      However, you would need to sue Mr. Silverstein in the US and would have a few hurdles to overcome. I assume you are thinking “defamation of character”? This would be very easy for Mr. Silverstein to defend. All he has to do is prove that Mr. Sa’ar dated M.K. Since this is common knowledge by many people, this would not be difficult.

      My suggestion to you would be to flush your money down the toilet now, instead of handing it over to your New York Lawyer.

      Good luck ;-)

      • Richard Silverstein February 9, 2013, 12:10 AM

        Not to mention that Katz would have no standing to sue on Saar’s behalf since there is no tort as far as Katz is concerned. Unless he wants to argue that my so-called defamation of Saar injured Katz. That would be a novel legal theory. Vicarious tort. Hmmm.

  • kalte Lokshen February 8, 2013, 9:15 AM

    Guys,

    If the stories about Mr. Saar’s sex life are really true – eat your hearts out. Mr. Saar must enjoy a very good life.
    By the way – Mr. Silverstein, the lady he is now scr..ing is a leftist like you. Eat your heart out too.

  • Yanshuf February 8, 2013, 9:25 AM

    arieh Katz

    It would be far more interesting to litigate this in Israel.

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 2:21 PM

      Good luck with that since I’m not an Israeli citizen. And what would Katz’s claim be? What damage has he suffered personally? Or does he have vicarious suffering via the blows inflicted in Saar’s reputation?

      • Southerner's Truth February 9, 2013, 2:22 PM

        Richard-you seem so into Israel and its politics! Why don’t you just move here?

        • Richard Silverstein February 9, 2013, 5:58 PM

          If I wrote a blog about Italian cooking would you ask me why I don’t move to Italy? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t.

          I wonder whether you’re trying to turn me into a classical Zionist? Personally, I believe it’s important to have a strong Jewish Diaspora and a strong (not militarily, but spiritually & ethically) Israel. To do so, it requires Jews who care about Israel and Judaism to live in both places. As an aside, this does not preclude Palestinians having precisely the same relationship between Palestine & its Diapsora either within Israel proper or in the Territories that may become Palestine.

          Not to mention that if I moved to Israel I would be bound by Israeli national security & secrecy laws. There would go much of what I do here.

  • Jay February 8, 2013, 1:02 PM

    Both his kids went to the best School in Tel Aviv and probably Israel that is semi public (owned by the municipality) , which is extremely difficult to get in, unless….. they have exams and only few kids make it. the rest are left to the mediocre public system , this does not smell right…

    http://www.mako.co.il/weekend-articles/Article-b7778bac2c0c931006.htm

  • Moti February 8, 2013, 3:48 PM

    I wonder if now after Maya Kats claims someone has forged the letter, and she never written a word
    I wonder if you are going to apologize for once again being wrong.
    http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics/Article-5ba7209484abc31004.htm&sCh=31750a2610f26110&pId=237936823

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2013, 5:52 PM

      Hard for me to say anything about this report since it doesn’t mention her name & I don’t know who they spoke to. But even if she didn’t write the letter (which is by no means proven), the contents of the letter are accurate. Saar had an affair with her. She, Saar & more than half the Knesset knows it. Saar’s wife knows it which is probably why she threw him out of the house.

      So what is there to apologize for, again?

      • Moti February 8, 2013, 7:35 PM

        I fear Your argument doesn’t have a leg to stand on:
        1. The original letter was given to the Globes newspaper offices, The letter was signed M.K
        2. You named M.K to be Maya Katz
        3. M.K was interviewed by globes and stated :”מעולם לא כתבתי מכתב שכזה”, אמרה. “התוכן שלו שקרי והדברים שמופיעים בו לא היו ולא נבראו”, הוסיפה ”
        ” I have never written this letter or any letter like this, “she said.” it’s content is false, and the allegation in it have never happened.”
        4. Somehow you now claim that the person interviewed isn’t the same person who allegedly wrote the letter and that even if it was, the content is still true, and that despite the exact statement of M.K

        As i said before you are not god nor you are a judge nor the facts were ever brought to your attention. You are basing your post on gossip. With this post and others you besmirch the reputation of others and you offer nothing to substantiate those wild allegations.
        In Pirkai Avot it says “One who shames his fellow in public, shall have no part in the world to come” I think you should use extreme caution in airing such damaging allegations.

        That is what i think you should apologize for.

        • Richard Silverstein February 9, 2013, 12:05 AM

          No, I fear it’s you who are missing those limbs. I have a Knesset source who says Maya Katz had an affair with Gideon Saar and that everyone in the Knesset knows this. Shalom Yerushalmi, writing for Maariv, knows this too through different sources than mine. Yerushalmi and Globes are reporting she sent a letter to Bibi and half the Likud leadership complaining about Saar. I believe she did. She now purportedly says she didn’t. Why does it even matter whether she did or didn’t? Saar still is a scandal-plagued womanizer who can’t keep his member in his pants as far as the other sex is concerned. How does her letter’s existence or non-existence make any difference?

          Not to mention that I simply don’t believe the denial. It’s VERY common for women who wish to make such allegations to shrink from their original claims once there is a threat of public notoriety placed upon them. Given that’s she’s only 27, she may not have realized what would happen after sending it. Now, she may wish to retract her role in the matter.

          As for shaming Gideon Saar, I believe I’ve bolstered my part in the world to come by exposing his dirty business. And if you think Pirkey Avot’s author had Saar’s womanizing in mind when he wrote that verse, you’re daft. Finally, it is not I who shame Gideon Saar. He’s done that to himself. If he could behave decently toward women he wouldn’t face the mess he’s in now.

  • Joe Ker February 8, 2013, 6:40 PM

    Dear Mr. Silverstein,
    Thanks you for publishing these stories. Given the way the media in Israel treats politicians with “silk gloves”, it is essential that the information is made public by other venues.

    As for this story – personally, I could care less who Mr. Sa’ar is “shtuping” . But when it starts impacting his performance as a civil servant (I assume that would be the prime function of a government minster) then it needs to be investigated.

  • Joel February 8, 2013, 9:26 PM

    “One who shames his fellow in public, shall have no part in the world to come”

    Richard. My portion ‘in the world to come’ is now up for sale!

    Make me an offer.

    • Richard Silverstein February 9, 2013, 12:08 AM

      You’re presuming you still retain your portion and that it’s still yours to sell. I hope for your sake you’re right. As for my portion, if there is a world to come, I think I’ve done pretty honorably by it & expect it to be waiting for me.

      But you might want to make that offer to Gideon Saar. I think he’s lost his portion several times over due to his own misbehavior.

  • LOLA February 9, 2013, 1:37 AM

    silverstien, how great it is to deal with sex life of a man and a woman in Israel sch an experience whom u never had a chance to experience…..
    U are rediculouse and pathetic

  • Apple Baum February 9, 2013, 12:06 PM

    The other dudes are wankers
    We love you
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Mike February 12, 2013, 10:40 AM

    Richard, I’m absolutely astonished by your approach to politician’s sex lifes. No, it’s not a crime to mention a politician’s affairs. Quite the contrary, they are public figures and – let’s admit it – there’s nothing that’s more interesting and fascinating in life than sex. But what’s definitely wrong that’s your moralistic approach. It’s smells of envy, an abhorrent character trait.

    As a liberal Zionist I greatly appreciate your blog (though I’m less “leftist” than you are). This time however I think you did a mistake.

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