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Reopen the Case of Israeli Pop Star Eyal Golan

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Eyal Golan at an awards ceremony in the Knesset, Jerusalem, December 11, 2018. 
Eyal Golan at an awards ceremony in the Knesset, Jerusalem, December 11, 2018. Credit: Emil Salman

In February 2014 the state attorney for the Tel Aviv district informed lawyers representing singer Eyal Golan that after examining the evidence amassed during the police investigation code-named “Social Games,” it had decided to close the case against him due to insufficient evidence. The law enforcement agencies thereby ended criminal proceedings in one of the most scandalous affairs ever to rock the world of Israel’s glitterati.

It turned out that Golan, one of Israel’s most successful singers ever, had a gang of guys around him who fed off his lifestyle and fame, using it to exploit young women, some of them minors, and have sexual relations with them. Hovering in the background was always the promise of contact with their idol.

The investigative report by Revital Hovel published Friday is largely based on evidence gathered by the police, as well as on open-source material including Golan interviews since the case was closed.

This report reveals that despite the decision to close the case against Golan and most of the other suspects, the investigation actually gathered sweeping evidence that shows the method used to catch the fans, and the way they were passed from hand to hand like sexual merchandise among the guys surrounding Golan.

The report also shows that Golan himself was involved in the sex industry that sprung up around him.

The original suspicions against him were illegal consensual sex, leading a minor to use drugs, paying a minor for sex and using drugs in the presence of minors. He wasn’t investigated for leading someone into prostitution – the crime of which his father, Danny Biton, the only person to actually stand trial in the case, was ultimately convicted. Biton was convicted in a plea bargain and sentenced to two years in prison.

But the findings of this report justify reopening the case, at least to reexamine whether the decision not to indict most of the people involved was justified. Granted, the investigation of Golan focused solely on whether he knew he was having illegal sexual relations with minors. But that isn’t the only suspicion of crime to which the evidence leads.

Though it would be an unusual move, and though more than five years have passed since the prosecution made its decision, prosecutors must reexamine the evidence and, if necessary, overturn their previous decision and indict the people involved.

That Golan is a famous, popular singer who regularly appears on television screens in Israeli homes isn’t supposed to make the law enforcement agencies treat him with kid gloves. The dangerous message sent by the manner in which the police and prosecution behaved in this case is that anyone who enjoys fame, glory and adulation is likely to escape justice. This message cannot be allowed to stand.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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