Today, News1 reports (Hebrew, and Haaretz in English) that the Israeli attorney general, Yehudah Weinstein, has agreed to open a preliminary investigation into charges that education minister, Gideon Saar, had sexual liaisons with underage girls and women who he either supervised or who asked for help landing government jobs. The prime minister suggested that the government’s chief legal officer consider undertaking the matter. Saar’s appointment as minister in the new government will be delayed until the investigation is complete. Though a separate Israeli media report says the AG has not asked for such a measure to be taken.
This is not (yet) a formal investigation. In fact, the AG is calling it a “quiet inquiry.” This usually means in the Israeli context that he doesn’t want to find any evidence that will force him to pursue the matter further. But if he does, that could change.
One of the factors Yoav Yitzhak emphasized in his report was that sexual acts, even ones that are consensual between a government official and subordinates, are criminal acts.
Recently, Israeli media reported that leaders of the Likud had received copies of a letter sent by one of Saar’s “discarded” victims to the prime minister. In it, she complained of the charges against the minister and said he was unfit to serve in his government. Among the charges she outlines below is an incident I first reported here that Saar had allegedly engaged in sex with an underage girl in a Tel Aviv nightclub. I also reported based on an independent source that the author of the letter was Maya Katz, who worked in Saar’s Knesset office and was a city councilor for Herzliya. Israeli media have offered a censored version of the document. I display in here in full with this translation:
Hon. Prime Minister of Israel–Benjamin Netanyahu…
I write you this letter after much thought and hesitation.
Several months ago a major expose was to have been published in Yediot Achronot about the education minister you appointed, Mr. Gideon Saar.
In this report, I appeared as someone who worked in the minister’s office who had a romantic relationship with the education minister. Only after a number of meetings with the investigators and other good people I understood that these relations were problematic and in fact an exploitation of his position as education minister which injured me and caused severe depression to this day.
This investigation which taxed me greatly, led to the exposure of other affairs of the minister with fellow MKs and other celebrities like Orly Ines and Shelly Yachimovich. All this [occurred] during a time when the minister was married to his wife, Shelly. In truth, during the time of my affair with him, I knew he was married. Today, I am very sorry about everything that happened.
The strange explanation I received about the cancellation of the report was that it involved a grave sexual charge in which the minister was accused of sexual contact with a minor which happened in the bathroom of Club Gilda [in Tel Aviv]. There, Saar DJ’ed once a week until this grave incident [happened]. In addition, I was told the broadcast was canceled since it involved a married minister. I was also told the underage girl [at Club Gilda] had had sex under the influence of alcohol. I do not wish to enter into other disrespectful details concerning this incident.
After I came to the realization that Gideon Saar came under the protection of the media and that it had degraded me and put me through many meetings which tore my soul from me, I decided to try to get on with my life.
I turn to you with one request: that you not nominate Gideon Saar as minister of education in your next government. It’s not fitting and not ethical that he should be deemed fit to be education minister and a model to the younger generation.
I hope not to have to deal with this further. But if you would like to meet with me your staff will know how to contact me through conversations with the staff of the education ministry.
In such allegations of sexual predation as may involve Saar, where there’s smoke there’s fire. In other words, other women have been exploited by him in the same way. I hope they will come forward, though I understand how difficult it would be for many reasons.