Meth, Sex, and Votes: The Scandalous Career of One Israeli Lawmaker

The freshman lawmaker's track record includes sexual and physical assault, bigotry, drug use, procuring prostitutes, and making fun of a disabled Knesset member.

Ben Sales
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Oren Hazan at a party from time before he was a politician.
Oren Hazan at a party from time before he was a politician. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Ben Sales

JTA - No one expected Oren Hazan to make it into Knesset. And ever since he was elected in March, he’s been causing trouble. Allegations against the freshman lawmaker have run the gamut from drugs to sex to bigotry. Here’s a primer on Hazan’s young, scandal-ridden career.

1. His campaign ad was a 'Godfather' spoof

Political scandal runs in Hazan’s family. His father was ousted from Knesset in 2003 after illegally voting twice in committee and trying to cover up the evidence. So you’d think Hazan would want to distance himself from his father’s legacy. And you’d be wrong.

In Hazan’s campaign ad ahead of this year’s election, set to the score from “The Godfather,” Hazan’s father pours some red wine, smokes a cigar and does a terrible Vito Corleone impression. Hazan then says he’ll “give the people of Israel an offer they can’t refuse.” That’s pretty much the whole ad.

2. He lied about his identity to discredit a left-wing NGO — and got caught

Hazan, age 34, earned the 30th spot on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud slate — reserved for a young candidate — and squeaked into Knesset after the party won thirty seats, outperforming polls. It was downhill from there.

The Knesset was sworn in on March 31. One day later, it emerged that Hazan had tried to discredit Breaking the Silence — an NGO that publishes soldiers’ testimonies about serving in the the West Bank — by providing a false testimony under a fake name. To no avail: the group saw through his lie and exposed it.

3. He allegedly procured prostitutes for, and did meth with, casino guests in Bulgaria

Two months later, in June, Israeli Channel 2 released an investigative report alleging that Hazan managed a casino in Bulgaria, where he did drugs with guests and procured prostitutes for them. Guests, Hazan’s driver and a local madam all recall Hazan bringing the women to the casino. Another guest recalls doing crystal meth on the street with Hazan and a couple friends.

The best part of the segment was when the madam, smoking a cigarette and laughing in front of a neon light, called Hazan “big boss Oren.”

Hazan was suspended from his post as deputy speaker of Knesset in the investigation’s wake. He’s sued the reporter who uncovered the story for libel.

4. He’s been accused of sexual assault against his employees

About a week after the investigative report, a fresh set of allegations emerged against Hazan. This time, female employees of a Tel Aviv bar he owned from 2011 to 2012 accused him of sexual assault.

The employees alleged that Hazan hugged them without their consent and brushed his genitals against their backsides. He allegedly also got drunk and pulled down his pants on the dance floor, exposing his backside.

Hazan has denied the allegations.

5. He’s been accused of physical assault against a city official in his hometown

Last year, Hazan is alleged to have assaulted Avi Azar, the director general of the municipality in the West Bank settlement of Ariel — where Hazan lives. Hazan allegedly attacked Azar in a public square during a heated argument after a lien was placed against him due to an unpaid debt.

Following an investigation, police recommended in September that Hazan be prosecuted.

6. He made fun of a fellow Knesset member for being disabled — twice

Hazan’s latest scandal came this week, when he made fun of Yesh Atid Knesset member Karin Alharrar, who uses a wheelchair because she has muscular dystrophy. Alharrar asked fellow Knesset Member Essawi Freij last week to help her cast a vote on the Knesset’s electronic voting system. When Freij cast her vote, Hazan accused Alharrar of voting twice.

Then on Tuesday morning, as Alharrar was voting on a bill to postpone drafting haredi Orthodox men, Hazan called out, “Do you need Essawi to help you?”

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid asked that Hazan be thrown out of the Knesset plenum for the remark, and said he would file a complaint about the incident. In response, Hazan tweeted that Lapid was a “crybaby.” He also said he did not mean to insult Alharrar, and said, “If she was hurt by me in any way, I apologize,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

“If my child says this on the playground about someone disabled, that’s unacceptable, never mind in the Knesset,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for disability inclusion.

Ruderman has suggested that Hazan undergo sensitivity training regarding people with disabilities.

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