The Israel Police are currently in a state of emergency as six generals out of the 16 who compose the senior command staff have either resigned or been fired in the last few months – with the three latest cases surfacing in rapid succession within the last month.
Four of the officers involved were accused of impropriety, ranging from multiple sexual relationships with policewomen in some cases, to making harassing comments in another. One of these retired after a former housekeeper made sexual allegations against him, even though an inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing. Another major general, Haggai Dotan, is under investigation for sexual offenses and is expected to resign or be fired shortly, as is another top officer – Beer Sheva Police Commander Col. Moshe Ivgi.
While the general consensus in the media and law enforcement establishment has been that the senior officers – major generals Niso Shaham (fired), Bruno Stein (retired), Yossi Pariente (retired), Nissim Mor (fired), Kobi Cohen (retired), Menashe Arbiv (retired), Dotan and Col. Ivgi – are the clear villains in these scandals, and the women involved the clear victims, one voice – that of maverick investigative journalist Yoav Yitzhak, is saying something different. Yitzhak – who has exposed numerous corruption cases, including the Holyland affair that toppled Ehud Olmert's government – is adamant that the main problem being revealed here is not so much sexual harassment but a culture of sexual bribes – and that both the men and the women involved are guilty.
Yitzhak appeared on Channel 1 TV's main news broadcast on Friday and explained that the women involved were not naïve girls but policewomen who are tasked with protecting Israeli citizens. While he did not deny that harrassment exists and must be dealt with, Yitzhak said that the relations between the women and the officers involved were consensual and that investigations are revealing that dozens of policewomen were involved. The typical case, he explained, involves a give and take in which the women offer sexual favors in return for advancement in the ranks and higher pay.
Such a deal – in which one side offers something in return for advancement – constitutes a bribe, Yitzhak insisted, and while legal punishment for bribery is more severe than that meted out for sexual harassment, both the bribe giver and the bribe receiver are offenders.
He noted that the women involved had the option to refuse the deal and that not prosecuting them is unjust toward the other policewomen who did not partake in the sordid “deals” and whose advancement through the ranks was slower as a result.