Former Students, Other Women Say Yitzhak Laor Harassed Them

Liel Kyzer
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Liel Kyzer

According to testimony aired last night on Channel 10's investigative reporting program "Hamakor," the poet and author Yitzhak Laor has sexually harassed several women over many years.

Laor's attorneys, Aviyam Yariv and Miri Hart, say their client denies the allegations.

According to the testimony, Laor verbally and sometimes physically harassed women students he taught at Tel Aviv University and at the Sam Spiegel School of Film and Television in Jerusalem. He also allegedly sexually harassed female employees at Haaretz, where he worked on the news desk.

The artist Eshkar Eldan Cohen told the program that she met Laor more than 20 years ago at left-wing demonstrations. One day in 1987 he came unannounced to her apartment, she said. "He pushed his foot in the door and forced his way in. I know for certain that he raped me," she wrote. "From the moment he entered the house everything went dark. The next thing I remember he was lying next to me naked on the bed."

In the early 1980s, according to women who were his students at Tel Aviv University, Laor habitually harassed them verbally. Shortly after the students complained to unversity management, his employment was terminated, the students say.

"One evening he simply passed the desk and asked me, shouting so everybody could hear, 'Are you wearing panties?' I was shocked, and naturally I went to the bathroom to cry," said a former employee at Haaretz, who was 20 at the time. "Other girls came to comfort me and said I wasn't the only one.

"I went to complain a few days later to the head of the news desk, Moshe Gal, and he pretty much laughed it off," she said.

A student of Laor's at the Sam Spiegel school in the early 1990s said that when she expressed anger at his sexual comments, he made an explicit sexual remark to her in front of everyone in the class, accompanied by a gesture.

"I took a deep breath, packed my things and left the class. I remember I waited for people to follow me out, but nobody did," the student said. She said she complained to school management, but Laor continued to teach there for a time. In 2002 Laor returned to teach at the Sam Spiegel school, but was fired a few months later following a complaint by a female student of unwanted sexual advances.

Laor's attorneys Yariv and Hart questioned why Eldan Cohen had revealed the alleged rape only now, 20 years later.

The attorneys said they had asked "Hamakor" for the name of the student "not for publication but to deal with the matter directly." They said that "the claims, beyond being denied, relate to a period before the passing of the law against sexual harassment in 1998 and were not criminal actions."

According to Tel Aviv University, "Dr. Laor was employed as a non-tenured teacher during various periods, which were limited. The university is unaware of any complaints about sexual harassment, and the matter will continue to be investigated."

The head of the Sam Spiegel school, Renan Schorr, declined to respond to the allegations.



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