Israeli Radio Talk Show Under Fire for 'Encouraging Discrimination' Against Women

Kol Yisrael's Ayala Hasson suggests pretty employees should be relocated so as to keep the 'candy' out of reach.

A rape crisis center charity has blasted radio talk show "Hakol Diburim" for its discussion Thursday about harassment in the workplace, saying it encouraged discrimination against women.

On the program, which aired on Kol Yisrael, host Ayala Hasson was chairing a discussion on the topical story in which prime minister's bureau chief Natan Eshel has been accused by three senior colleagues of improper behavior toward a female coworker.

Ayala Hasson -  Nir Keidar - 29012012
Nir Keidar

Hasson noted that, in another senior government bureau, "There was a pretty employee, and it seemed that the senior person in that bureau wanted her like a lovely piece of candy. Every time he walked by her, there was a little pinch on the cheek or something." Hasson added the "solution" had been to transfer the woman "very quietly. What might be called the supportive environment moved the 'candy' out of reach."

Program guests - political commentator Hanan Kristal and a former media adviser to the prime minister, Yossi Levy - said they supported such a solution. Kristal said it was in the spirit of the biblical rule "Do not put a stumbling block before the blind."

Dr. Orit Kamir, of the Law and Gender Studies departments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also a guest on the program, said such a solution constituted segregation of women, and that the man involved should have been transferred.

When the discussion turned to the mid-90s case of U.S. President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Hasson said to Kamir: "Let's say you work for the president of the United States and he has an adviser who understands that he has a weakness for young, buxom women. And if they know a person of that age will not learn to control himself ... we are talking about a bureau with power."

The director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Michal Rosen, said her organization would demand an apology from the chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Amir Gilat. "This idea that we should help [the harasser] not to be tempted, that's exactly what the ultra-Orthodox say," Rosen said.

"That's exactly why women don't complain about harassment, because they are the ones who pay the price," Rosen added. Hasson said in response: "I did not say on the air, either outright or by allusion, that I approve of the segregation of women. I told a news story about an incident. As an interviewer, I don't dictate to my interviewees what to say."

Hasson added that she picked Kamir as one of her interviewees because she "knew her positions and the importance of airing them."