Lapid Accused of Sexism After Attacking Appointment of New Haaretz Editor

Politician admits error after saying decision to name Noa Landau English edition's new editor proves Breaking the Silence, where her partner holds a prominent role, wants to smear Israel abroad.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at a Knesset party meeting, December 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid was accused of sexism Friday, after taking to Facebook to attack the appointment of Noa Landau as editor of Haaretz English Edition.

Lapid's attack was based on the fact that Landau's husband, Avner Gvaryahu, is part of the anti-occupation veterans' group Breaking the Silence

“Noa Landau, the life partner of Avner Gvaryahu, the most vocal and radical of Israel’s denouncers from Breaking the Silence, was appointed the editor of Haaretz’s English edition,” Lapid wrote in a Facebook post.

The former journalist turned politician then accused Haaretz English Edition of slandering Israel and the Israel Defense Forces, and said Landau’s appointment serves as “additional proof (as if any was needed) that Breaking the Silence is not interested in influencing Israeli society from within, but prefers to slander us abroad.”

It was announced Thursday that Landau will take over as editor of Haaretz English Edition on September 1. She replaces Charlotte Hallé, who will assume the new role of international director after 9 years as editor.

A number of Israeli lawmakers and prominent public figures labeled Lapid’s comments misogynistic, saying that it was sexist to tie her appointment to her partner’s professional activities.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon criticized Lapid’s post, saying: “In Lapid’s world, Noa Landau has no personality. She is not an experienced editor, with a history working for Israel’s main newspapers, an impressive [record of] journalistic projects in Haaretz and an Oxford education. No, she is no more than an extension of Avner Gvaryahu, who sent her to Haaretz to trash Israel abroad.”

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) tweeted sarcastically: “I didn’t follow Twitter for a few hours. Can anyone tell me what Lihi’s husband said?” in a reference to Yair Lapid’s wife.

Tamar Ish-Shalom, a news broadcaster on Israel’s Channel 10, also criticized Lapid, saying: “Women in the 21st century have their own political, economic and social opinions,” the tweet read. “[T]hey don’t need a partner in order to develop a thought-out and an independent world view.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on Lapid to apologize. “Whoever preachers hate, against journalists and in general doesn’t deserve the public’s support,” he said in a tweet. Yair was wrong. Yair should apologize.”

Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken called Lapid’s comments a “new low for the leader of Ofer Shelah and Yael German,” referring to two Yesh Atid lawmakers. “We are very happy that the talented Noa Landau is coming back to Haaretz,” he tweeted.

Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn also responded to Lapid’s comments on Twitter, saying that “in 30 years of journalism I have met few editors as professional as Noa Landau in every possible way: courage, determination, leadership, a keen eye for news and standing up to pressure.

“One thing we don’t do at Haaretz: We don’t check who the journalists’ partners are and what their opinions are.” 

Lapid’s comments were also severely criticized by Ta Ha’itunaiot, a group of female Israeli journalists, who accused Lapid of inciting against Landau, a member of the group. “Lapid dragged a senior journalist to a personal political campaign, robbed her of her rights as an individual and marked her as a moving target for political forces on the other side.”

Lapid’s comments were an attack against Landau for her husband’s activities, said the group. “It’s a two-pronged attack, which diminishes her as an independent person and as a professional woman,” said the group, calling on Lapid to apologize. “In 2016, women ought to be judged according to their professional work and not because of their partners,” the statement read.

Late at night, Lapid apologized for his comments in a Facebook post, saying that while he is not retracting his criticism of Haaretz or Breaking the Silence, the attack on Landau was a mistake. "Noa Landau isn't an extension of her partner. She stands on her own right," he wrote, adding: "The extreme left has attacked Lihi (Lapid's wife) on more than a few occasions in recent years due to things I've done. It wasn't fair and as someone who believes in women's equality I don't want to be in that place." 

Noa Landau joined Haaretz seven years ago, after working as a correspondent and editor for Army Radio, Channel 10 News and Maariv. From 2012 to 2015, Landau was head of the paper’s news division, leading coverage of the two most recent wars in Gaza as well as the last general elections. She headed the first Haaretz conference in New York and, in recent months, has been a fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

Charlotte Hallé joined Haaretz in 1999 and led the English edition for the past nine years. During Hallé’s tenure, the newspaper went through a period of turbulence, during which the focus moved from the print edition to online, and Haaretz content began to reach millions of readers around the world – including more than 18,000 digital subscribers. In her new role, Hallé will promote Haaretz’s international business development, including overseas conferences and collaborations with international bodies and Jewish communities in the Diaspora.