Dozens of Israeli Public Broadcaster Employees Allege Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Humiliation

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The headquarters of KAN in Jerusalem, this week.
The headquarters of KAN in Jerusalem, this week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Employees at the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation Kan regularly face abuse, humiliation and insults by managers, and incidents of sexual harassment have gone unpunished, according to dozens of testimonies collected by Haaretz.

Matan Drori, the head of Kan digital content, calls female employees “slut” and “bitch,” and discusses penis size with male employees, according to testimony. Another female manager has said a female employee “needs a f—k,” and jokes about a male worker’s physical disability. Radio broadcaster Avner Naim urinates in the women’s bathroom while leaving the door open, and in one instance pressed his crotch into the face of a female colleague.

Many employees say complaints are not addressed, and offenders are not punished. The manager in charge of handling harassment complaints, Limor Grizim-Magen, doesn’t take complaints seriously and even jokes about them, employees say. Employees describe irrelevant criticism, a humiliating attitude and a toxic work environment, and say they have experienced emotional crises due to how they are treated.

These are not isolated incidents, and the problem is not limited to a single department. Haaretz spoke to employees from eight departments and divisions. Even the most senior and well known among them insisted on speaking anonymously due to fear of retribution.

“The fact that I’m so hesitant to talk to you only proves how frightening the work environment is,” says one female worker, who also requested not to correspond in writing lest someone else see it. “The entire place is covered by a network of cameras. Some are directed at places where people sit. You walk around feeling that there’s a sword dangling above you. If you dare demand your rights, you’re marked, and they’ll find a way to take revenge. They won’t fire you; they don’t lay people off here. They make you miserable until you leave.”

Many KAN employees say complaints are not addressed, and offenders are not punished.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Even employees who left were afraid to be identified. “Friends who heard I was hesitant to talk said to me: ‘How could it be that after all the stories we’ve heard from you, you’re not saying anything?’” said one. “I have a kind of survivors’ guilt, but I’m also speaking out due to the intolerable gap between the image of the broadcasting corporation, with its ostensibly ethical vision and high principles, and what really happens there. A place where workers routinely take abuse and harassment, and when someone complains, they're the one who suffers and the issue is whitewashed.”

“It’s a totally insane workplace,” says a female employee. “This place is gradually becoming worse that the [original] Broadcasting Authority. Nepotism, promotion of yes-men, an organizational culture of silencing – and all with public funding. Why do we stay? Some workers stay because it’s their only source of income, and some of us stay because we really like the work and the people. And we also believe in what we do. So we suck it up and continue. We fantasize about the day when we’ll resign.”

Employees repeatedly told Haaretz: Everything starts at the top. And the person at the top is Eldad Koblenz, the CEO of Kan since 2016.

“If the CEO didn’t have a certain attitude toward employees, the things that happen here wouldn’t be allowed,” says one female worker. “Eldad is brilliant and charismatic, but he doesn’t pay any attention to the workers. He’s a centralized CEO, as he himself says in interviews. He knows everything that happens in the corporation, that’s why it’s clear to me that these things are done with his knowledge.”

Several employees noted that several months ago, Koblenz conducted a round of discussions with employees alongside VP Human Resources Gitit Rozen-Elitzur. A great deal of employee frustration was voiced in those conversations. At the end of the discussion, management promised to follow up. But instead, workers who had expressed criticism of management were reprimanded directly or indirectly.

Kan stated in response: “The corporation has not hesitated to dismiss male and female workers who harassed and insulted others.”

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