Channel 10 News announced Friday that senior journalist Emmanuel Rosen will take a "leave of absence" from his post, following an article in Haaretz where a group of female colleagues accused Rosen of improper behavior and harassment. The journalist described the claims as "baseless" and a "smear campaign."
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"The journalist Emmanuel Rosen will take a leave of absence, pending clarification of the allegations that were published about him today," Channel 10 News said on Friday night. "Rosen notified Channel 10 CEO Golan Yochpaz of his decision at the end of a conversation between the two. In this regard, Channel 10 News will act on the instructions of the law, to the letter."
The announcement was made after the company's management had received requests to investigate the testimonies that appeared in Friday's Haaretz investigation into Rosen, where women who had worked with the senior journalist described improper behavior and harassment on his part. The investigation revealed testimonies from women who had worked with Rosen over the years, detailing a web of harassment and obsessive courtship.
Haaretz received testimonies from more than 10 women who all described a similar pattern, alongside testimonies of senior members of the media who confirmed that they had been familiar with this pattern of behavior for many years.
One of the women who testified in the article, A., worked with Rosen around a decade ago when she was a soldier. "After a short while, I began to receive lots of messages from him, dozens during the day and night … One evening, I consented to his persistent advances and invited him over. He constantly tried to touch me, and I repeatedly told him I did not want to. At some point I just stopped saying no. I told myself to lie quietly and wait for it to be over. Even while we were having sex I continued to say 'No, I don't want to,' and he continued."
B., who works in the media, said: "I was 21, and my first job after the army was for a media organization. I had entered a new organization, and wasn't too knowledgeable about work-sex relationships. I met Emmanuel Rosen there, and then a courtship of a type I had never seen before began. An aggressive, obsessive courtship on a daily basis that got progressively worse … It ended after one occasion when he drove me to some car park, some wine, and tried to kiss me and also exposed his penis and asked me to stroke it. I felt this was simply inappropriate and insisted he take me home. He tried to insist that I stay, but after I repeatedly insisted, he eventually stopped. He returned me home and I just felt empty and violated."
Anat Saragusti was editor of the "Ulpan Shishi" ("Friday Studio") weekly news wrap-up program during the years when Rosen was a political correspondent on the show. She is one of the female journalists who exposed the subject this week.
"The structure of these sort of incidents is that [the man involved] is usually a senior man [in the organization], with a status and position within his place of work," Saragusti said. "The woman is usually a young researcher taking her first steps in the media, a makeup artist, stylist, or even a waitress that he encounters. They are always much younger than him. It could start with what seems like a legitimate courtship, a compliment that you don't know how to deal with – you may giggle, blush or move on.
"The compliment is repeated," she continues, "you receive an invitation to go out one evening, and it's hard for you to tell if it's flattering or whether it crosses a line. If you refuse, then the refusal is vague because you'll see him tomorrow at work and you don't want to be harsh. You want to advance at work, so you're cautious so you don’t get kicked out. Then you start to get 20 messages an hour. You don't know whether to complain or if there's anything to complain about, or if it’s even sexual harassment. You're not sure that you even want to complain about it because you may lose your job, or you may be a temporary worker anyway."
Are these things that you saw as his editor?
Saragusti: "I saw some things. In some cases it was difficult to tell if it was legitimate courtship where the woman consented of her own freewill, or whether she was drawn into it against her will. It is very difficult to characterize. The issue of authority is elusive here; there is a hierarchy, but they are not directly subject to it. Sometimes the situation is unclear; these are grown women, not minors. A very uncomfortable atmosphere is created at the workplace. It repeats itself and women can't complain, for all the reasons I said, and also because, as a society, we haven't succeeded in creating sufficient protection for women who do complain.
"In the case of the media, it's a very small world," she adds. "If she complains, then maybe she won't be able to make a living any more. It's important that all media outlets be free from sexual harassment and for them to be friendly places for young women to work in as well."
So far, none of the women Haaretz interviewed has complained to the police about Rosen. The women – who are mostly journalists, with some being senior, familiar figures – didn’t want to hurt their standing and be at the center of a media storm. Most of them were young when they met Rosen, and felt guilty for not being decisive enough with their refusals of the problematic advances in the workplace. They didn't know the scale of the incident, and whether they were the only ones affected.
In 2010, a group was opened on Facebook bearing the mysterious name: "Emmanuel Rosen's women." Slowly, the journalists began to talk with one another and realized they were not alone.
After it was announced last week that Rosen was to be one of the presenters of a new Friday night show, some friends who had organized themselves into a group of female journalists assembled last Tuesday night to discuss the case. At the end of the meeting, they circulated – and asked others to circulate – an open call for women to contact them if they had been harassed by a "senior media figure." The initiative drew much criticism from those who argued that it was a kangaroo court that lacked a specific name or complaint. Rumors about the senior figure began to flood the Internet.
On Wednesday, journalist Hadas Shteif, one of the members of the group of female journalists, appeared on the Channel 2 program "Medabrim al Zeh" ("Talking about it"). Gadi Sukenik, who in the past presented "Ulpan Shishi" with Rosen, also appeared on the show. He was being interviewed on another matter, but also participated in the discussion.
They both avoided explicitly naming Rosen, but seemed to refer to him in their comments. "All the managers, everyone knew all the time and said that as long as nothing came out, [they] wouldn't do anything about it," said Sukenik.
Shteif said she discussed the subject with the head of Israel Police's department of investigations and intelligence, and that the group of female journalists had also contacted the man's employers at Channel 10.
Following the announcement that he was taking a leave of absence, Rosen issued his first response to the allegations: "For 10 years, an anonymous smear campaign has been waged against me behind the scenes and on the Internet, presenting a fictional character who does not exist in reality: 'Emmanuel Rosen, the offender.' During these years there hasn't been a single woman who worked with me, or who was interviewed by me, who wasn't asked by the organizers of the smear campaign if I hurt or harassed.
"Now, as the Journalists' Association has decided to take this witch hunt from the darkness to the light, I praise them for this and am impatiently awaiting a swift and efficient inquiry of all these matters," he continued. "The time has come to challenge the veracity of the rumor mill and the unchecked allegations, which have never been brought before me and which I have never been asked about.
"What I have to say has never been heard," he said. "This afternoon, I informed the CEO of Channel 10 News, Golan Yochpaz, of my decision to take a leave of absence from work with the channel, until the completion of the initial review process – and until the clouds have passed. I hope the inquiry will be conducted with the same speed and ease in which this baseless story swelled to monstrous proportions."
Rosen declined to comment on the allegations following several inquiries from Haaretz. But following Friday's publication of Haaretz's investigation, the group of journalists, who over the last week had acted to expose the affair, turned to Channel 10 and the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, with a request to undertake "a significant procedure to thoroughly review the allegations of inappropriate conduct by the women who worked alongside [Rosen] and beneath him."
ARCCI CEO Orit Sulitzeanu said: "In light of the number and extent of allegations, Rosen's employers shouldn't have waited but taken a proactive approach to address the rumors. By doing so, the management would have sent a message of support to female employees in cases where complaints are directed at senior employees, and also when they are not necessarily working under them."
A statement from the group of journalists says they want to "emphasize that beyond this specific case, there is a profound and fundamental difficulty that women in general deal with, and in the media in particular."