Tel Aviv Councilman Accused of Rape Resigns as #MeToo Rocks LGBTQ Community

Prominent activist Etai Pinkas Arad denies allegations of sexual misconduct

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Haaretz
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Etai Pinkas Arad waves the Pride flag at a Knesset meeting on surrogacy for same-sex couples, in July.
Etai Pinkas Arad waves the Pride flag at a Knesset meeting on surrogacy for same-sex couples, in July.Credit: Emil Salman
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Haaretz

Etai Pinkas Arad announced his resignation from the Tel Aviv city council on Wednesday, after rape and sexual assault accusations against him were published. Last week, two men accused Pinkas Arad – a prominent figure in the LGBTQ community and leader of the fight for surrogacy rights for same-sex couples, representing left-wing Meretz party – of sexual misconduct and exploitation.

Another report was published on Wednesday morning, also in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, in which a third man, D., said Pinkas Arad raped him during a sexual encounter in 2016.

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D. said he was sexually involved with Pinkas Arad for 12 years, and during their meetings Pinkas Arad would sometimes “surprise” D. with violent acts without his consent. The peak was an actual rape, he said. “I was naked and my back was turned to him,” said D. “Suddenly he penetrated me by surprise. The pain was horrible. I said: ‘No, what are you doing? Stop.’ I screamed in pain. But his response was to pull out and enter again, even harder. In other words, my saying ‘no’ only made him increase the pace."

He attempted to fight him, D. says but he was not as strong as Pinkas Arad who trapped him beneath his weight. "He pushed me into the bed and whispered in my ear ‘never tell me no," D. said.

Since the incident, the two men have not been in contact, said D. who says that his mental state deteriorated. D. confronted Pinkas Arad two years ago about the incident in correspondence on the Atraf dating app, and Pinkas Arad wrote him: “I don’t remember that situation. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Our sexual relations were characterized throughout the years as hard sex, so maybe because of that I didn’t notice distress.”

In his response to Yedioth Ahronoth, Pinkas Arad denied the accusations, but announced his resignation from the city council. “I have never forced myself on anyone and every sexual contact I've had has been consensual. If someone feels hurt by me, I am truly sorry about it, but I did not intend to hurt anyone and I did not break the law. At the same time, I have decided to resign from the Tel Aviv city council in order to dedicate time to my daughters and Yoav, my partner, who are going through a traumatic period due to no fault of their own.”

Last week, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that two men said Pinkas Arad had sex with them without a condom when they attended events sponsored by the Israel Gay Youth group as 17-year-olds more than a decade ago. The men said Pinkas Arad, 47, took advantage of his position to have sexual encounters with them.

Pinkas Arad apologized for his actions saying: “15 years ago, I saw things differently, in a culture that was prevalent in the community, and today it is clear to me that these were acts that should not have happened … These are difficult hours for me and for my family. But I am not the story here, the people who were hurt by me are.”

In the early 2000s, Pinkas-Arad served as chairman of the LGBTQ Task Force and later electeded to the Tel Aviv city council representing Meretz, and for several years now has held the city’s LGBTQ portfolio. In June 2020, he spearheaded a move enabling couples to register with the municipality without having to be married through the Chief Rabbinate. He has also been a leader in the fight for surrogacy rights for LGBTQ parents.

These reports have come right on the heels of an investigative report by the Kan public broadcaster about gay journalist, screenwriter and activist Gal Uchovsky, in which allegations were made that he assaulted two men.

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