Army Radio Suspends Correspondent for Alleged Verbal Sexual Harassment

Station commander Yaron Dekel only held a clarification conversation with the reporter before IDF’s manpower directorate head intervened.

Army Radio studio.
Alon Ron

An unnamed correspondent at Army Radio was suspended on Saturday following complaints of verbal sexual harassment made against him by two female soldiers. The suspension came only after the intervention of the Israel Defense Forces’ manpower directorate commander, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky. Prior to that, the station’s commander Yaron Dekel had only held a clarification conversation with the journalist. The issue is now being investigated by the manpower directorate.

The IDF spokesman confirmed that the women’s affairs advisor to the chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Rachel Tevet-Wiesel, had received a report from the Army Radio commander regarding these complaints but that the final order to suspend the reporter was made by Topolansky.

In response, the suspended correspondent told Haaretz that “neither of the female soldiers had mentioned anything to me. I hear various rumors through different channels. Obviously I’m at a loss and frustrated since I never received any complaint about harassment or anything like that. Nothing was explained to me except that the suspension was in place until the end of the investigation, about which I know nothing. When I know what is being investigated and what the complaint is – if indeed there is one – I’ll know how to respond.”

The correspondent has been working at Army Radio for a year, filling several roles there. He also works in other media outlets. In the past he exposed cases of sexual harassment at a large government corporation, as part of an investigative report conducted by Army Radio. He has also expressed opposition to the participation of people suspected of sexual harassment in TV programs.

It should be noted that in recent years Army Radio has reported extensively about cases of sexual harassment by senior media personalities and politicians. The station’s crime affairs correspondent Hadas Steiff publicized abundant testimony of women who had filed complaints against veteran reporter Emmanuel Rosen, who returned to work only after the case against him was closed for lack of evidence. The first stories relating to former MK Silvan Shalom, who was contending for the presidency at the time, were exposed on Army Radio by Steiff.

The IDF’s manpower directorate has been taking sexual harassment complaints very seriously in recent years. Its intervention in this case signals its rapid treatment and serious attitude to the problem. On the women’s affairs advisor’s website there is a quote by the directorate’s commander saying that: “The IDF has a very strict policy regarding sexual harassment. This policy involves education, enforcement and significant penalties; a rigid enforcement policy; taking legal action to abrogate employment commitments to people convicted of sexual harassment, and more.”