Israeli TV Star and Eurovision Co-host Assi Azar Accused of Sexual Assault

The accuser, the film actor Yehuda Nahari, told the Walla news site that he recently passed a polygraph test to discuss the meeting a decade ago with Azar, who denies the allegations

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
Assi Azar, former co-host of Eurovision and the Israeli version of "Big Brother."
Israeli TV star Assi Azar, who co-hosted Eurovision in 2019.Credit: Roy Berkowitz
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

Yehuda Nahari, the actor who portrayed Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin in the 2019 Hebrew-language thriller “Incitement,” says that Assi Azar, the co-host of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest and one of the biggest TV hosts in Israel, sexually assaulted him nine years ago. Azar denies the allegations.

Nahari lodged a complaint with the police, but the case was closed due to the statute of limitations, the Walla news site reported.

“I met Yehuda more than 10 years ago in my home for a friendly and pleasant meeting during which we even kissed,” Azar, also a former co-host of the Israeli version of “Big Brother,” told Walla. “All the other things described in the article never happened.”

Nahari, however, says that before speaking out on the incident he took a polygraph test, which he says showed that he is telling the truth.

Nahari said the two met through mutual friends and Azar invited the actor to a meeting at his home to discuss a role in the show “The Baker and the Beauty” that he had created for the Keshet production company.

Yehuda Nahari, who played Yitzhak Rabin's assassin in the 2019 thriller "Incitement."Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Nahari told Walla that during the meeting, Azar “moved to the big sofa and sat down. He invited me to come closer and told me, ‘Relax, come closer, everything’s fine, we’ll talk for a minute, I want to get to know you.’

“At some point, he started touching his penis and said to me, ‘See, I’m very attracted to you. Look what you’re doing to me.’ I looked and was kind of shocked. I told him, ‘I’m really not interested.’ He said, ‘Come on, you’re not attracted? You don’t want it?’

“I replied, ‘No. No way.’ At some point, he moved closer to me. That is, I was sitting opposite him on the couch; he was on one end and I was on the other end, far from him. He moved close to me, placed his hand on me and tried to convince me: ‘Come on, try it, why not?’

“I told him, ‘No, you’re making me uncomfortable, please move away.’ I even opened up and told him about the sexual molestation I experienced when I was a kid, which I repressed until I was in my 20s.”

“Not only did Assi not have pity on me, he still thought he could bend me to his will and didn’t let up. I stood up and went to the kitchen; I wanted to get something to drink, to escape the situation. He followed me, came up very close to me and acted like he was trying to chat about other things, to calm me down and make light of things.

“But I just wanted to get away from him. I went back to the other room and sat down on the couch, cringing and frozen by what was happening, and he came and stood in front of me, very close. He still had an erection.

“Suddenly, he pulled out his penis and said, ‘Look. This doesn’t do it for you? It doesn’t turn you on? Don’t you want it?’ I told him, ‘No, get away.’ He came over and sat down, and I moved to the other side of the couch. He kept trying. He pulled out his penis again.”

Nahari said that when Azar realized he wasn’t getting anywhere, he changed tack and invited Nahari to audition for a role in the series he was creating. The actor went to the audition but was not chosen for the part.

Asked why he went to the audition despite what he says happened, Nahari said, “Basically, I really wanted the part, because I knew it could change my career and give me a tremendous boost. I had just finished acting school.

“For me, to have a role in such a high-profile prime-time show was a dream. I just went ahead, I didn’t think too much. I shut the episode away in some drawer that I haven’t let myself open until now.”

In 2020, Nahari took part in the reality show “Ninja Israel,” which was hosted by Azar. Asked if he wasn’t afraid to be that close to the person he says sexually assaulted him, Nahari replied, “I considered it, but it’s part of the process I’m going through – of facing up to events and not letting them run my life anymore.

“I wanted to go on the show because I’ve loved to climb since I was young and really like this competition. I wanted to prove to myself that I could press the buzzer, and I did.”

Keshset added: “We heard about the incident just a few hours ago in an inquiry from Walla. It is our understanding that Assi denies the allegations. In any event, the matter is under review.”

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