Fame and Punishment: On Underage Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll

Thoughts on famous singers and infamous behavior in the wake of the Eyal Golan affair.

At this moment ‏(the column was written last Saturday‏), there is increasing talk about the case against the singer Eyal Golan ‏(for allegedly having sex with underage girls‏) being closed due to lack of evidence. Already one can sense all the self-righteous types, led by the PR man of the elite, Rani Rahav − someone whom it’s best not to anger − along with Golan’s friends and sycophants, revving up the engines in order to declare loud and clear that Golan’s blood was spilled in vain, the man did nothing wrong and those to blame are the police, the media, the social networks and the “feminists.”

For yes, the latest fad is kicking those who are called feminists − meaning the public group of women who are opposed to the exploitation of women, and above all female journalists.

For their own benefit, the woman haters are invoking the decisions by the state prosecution to close the sexual harassment and abuse cases against the journalists Sharon Gal and Emmanuel Rosen − for lack of evidence − and they will likely do so again in the case of Golan.

But let us not confuse lack of evidence with lack of guilt, nor lack of criminal guilt with reprehensible behavior that deserves all possible social and public condemnation. In the case of Rosen, many dozens of testimonies were collected from women whom he allegedly sexually harassed, along with testimonies of two women whom he allegedly raped. But most of the women who voiced their testimonies to a female journalists’ circle refused, for their own reasons, to complain to the police, and at least one rape case was subject to the statute of limitations.

Even if the State Prosecutor’s Office did not consider the investigatory material it received from the police sufficient to obtain Rosen’s criminal conviction ‏(the police opposed the closing of the case, believing that a conviction was possible in at least three of the cases‏), we must not forget journalist Hadas Shtaif’s claim that Rosen was a serial sexual harasser and possibly also a rapist.

From this point of view, it is a very good thing that he received his punishment from the public, if not from the court, and for this we have to thank that female journalists’ circle. If not for them, Rosen would have continued his alleged actions while his employers turned a blind eye and he went on gaining popularity and public power, with others following his lead.

Not everything is justiciable in matters of sexual harassment, and not every repellent act is subject to a prison term. But it is proper and desirable that those who are not punished by the court should be punished by society as a whole.
Two thoughts that are not entirely germane came to me immediately after I became aware of the complexity of the sex abuse case in which the star is not Eyal Golan but his father, Danny Biton ‏(who is also being investigated over claims that he had sex with underage girls‏).

The first thought was that my father, contrary to what I thought of him many times, and contrary to the accounts that I continue to settle with him even after his death, was actually a lovely dad − Eisenbeton ‏(reinforced concrete‏), as he would have put it if he were still alive.

This, I think, is the only positive thing to be derived from this affair: that most of us have or had a father far better than Golan’s father, a man who abandoned his son but later became his hanger-on, using his son’s success to allegedly commit dreadful deeds, presenting his son as the big prize for the girls who would agree to sleep with him.

Had he heard of Biton, even Franz Kafka − author of the harrowing “Letter to His Father” − would probably have felt lucky in regard to the man who spawned him. The story of the relations between Golan and his father is a tragic tale, but nevertheless I will not shed a tear for Golan − not tomorrow, and not 20 years from tomorrow.

My second thought about this affair is that the only unequivocal conclusion to be drawn from it is that Eyal Golan is a famous singer. Apparently he was very famous even before, but this disgusting affair hammers home the fact that he is “the famous singer” ‏(as he was constantly referred to in the media when the story broke and a gag order was in place‏).

But Eyal Golan is not the only one who became “the famous person” thanks to his deplorable behavior. Sexual harassment sometimes turns victims into celebrities. An example is A., from the President’s Residence, who seems to be trying to achieve the status of a harassment celeb, and to that end has appeared on several television shows in order to be one of the first women to throw stones at girls who were exploited sexually.

She, who in contrast to them was a mature woman when she was sexually harassed by the country’s then president, Moshe Katsav, is suddenly forgetting that responsibility in regard to sex offenses always lies with the strong side − whether that strength stems from the fact that he is the country’s president or the country’s most famous singer, still more when underage girls are involved. The attempt to point the finger of blame at the girls’ parents, whose parental authority was eroded, is not only vicious but also nonsensical. That young women are attracted to older, powerful men is not an invention of recent years − cases in point are rock ‘n’ roll stars down the years and also the writer Dahn Ben-Amotz, entertainer Uri Zohar in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, and even the singer Yehoram Gaon, who married a teenage girl but did not exploit her.

Exploitation is the keyword in this whole story, as in the cases of Katsav and Rosen. Katsav was convicted and Rosen accused of using their professional standing to perform indecent acts on mature women, while Biton allegedly used the vast fame of his son to exploit the frailty of girls and turn them into victors’ booty.

Despite Rani Rahav’s indubitable skill at managing image crises, it is my hope, in this case at least, that Golan will be transformed from “the famous singer” into “the singer famous for his notoriety.” But I doubt my hope will be realized. As he himself declared, Golan slept with hundreds of his female fans, most of them very young. There are too many people who believe that as long as he didn’t know any of them were under the age of 16, then everything is all right.
As though there is nothing incredibly repulsive about the fact that a man of 42 − the father of children, a diamond-studded millionaire − measures his success and prowess as a man by the number of women he sleeps with, and in inverse proportion to their age.

Even if the court does not do it, it is our duty − the whole of society − to punish him and remember those dark passions lurking beneath that winning smile and within the package of words of love that are bound with a ribbon.