Israeli Defense Chief Accused of Encouraging Sexual Harassment in Erran Morad Parody Video

The video, a parody of Sasha Baron Cohen's character in 'Who Is America,' features an Israeli krav maga instructor teaching Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to take pictures under women's skirts

A screenshot of a parody video shows Matan Gavish teaching Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to take a picture under a woman's skirt.
Screenshot / @AvigdorLiberman / Twitter

NEW YORK – Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has come under fire after releasing a parody video of Israeli counter terrorism expert Erran Morad, Sasha Baron Cohen’s character in his show “Who Is America.”

In the video, the role of Morad is performed by Matan Gavish, an actual Israeli counterterrorism expert and the founder of the Krav Maga Academy in Manhattan. Haaretz reported in August that Gavish, who has been featured extensively in U.S. media in recent years, seems to bear a striking resemblance to the muscular, black-eyebrowed and squared-jawed Morad and may have inspired Cohen.

The video kicks off with Gavish offering Lieberman some “techniques to fight terrorism” that also appeared in “Who Is America”: Arming a baby, fighting a kidnapping, and a machine that can scan terrorists. He then teaches Lieberman to use a selfie stick to take pictures under the skirt of a woman wearing traditional Islamic garb, “to identify terrorism under a burqa.”

>> Israel's new gun policy is straight out of 'Who is America' ■ Why Cohen's targets agree to be so colossally humiliated

The video finishes when Lieberman turns to the camera and tells the viewer in Hebrew, “Who needs this silliness? We have the Israel Defense Forces, the best soldiers in the world. Happy New Year to all the soldiers and the people of Israel.”

The video, which was published on Lieberman’s Facebook page ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, received mixed reactions on social media; while some praised the defense chief and joined him in wishing IDF soldiers a happy new year, others described the video as “cringe worthy.” But the strongest criticism by far was voiced against the burqa part, with some commentators arguing that it encourages sexual harassment. 

Lawmakers Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) and Michal Rozin (Meretz) called on Lieberman to take down the video. Michaeli noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former right-hand man, Natan Eshel, was accused of taking pictures under the skirt of a female employee. 

“One may wonder whether Lieberman would take a photo under the skirt of a religious Jewish woman. Mr. Lieberman, all women wear skirts, and it’s forbidden to take a picture under a woman’s skirt, no matter the length of the skirt, or the religion of the woman,” Michaeli stated.

“Not funny in the least,” Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post’s military correspondent, wrote. “Especially the segment of taking pictures under the woman’s burqa. The Defense Ministry can do better than this.”