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Stern says he shredded anonymous complaints as IDF manpower chief

CM 10/10/2021


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Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern said in a 103FM interview on Sunday that as head of the IDF Manpower Directorate, he shredded anonymous complaints submitted against officers.
Stern made the comment in a radio interview about an anonymous sexual harassment complaint that was leveled against ‘R,’ the incoming head of Shin Bet, saying that people who have something to say about others should “do so openly.”
“We cannot support a culture of anonymous accusations,” Stern told 103FM. “Not at the expense of encouraging the complaint.”
An anonymous letter published on Wednesday accused ‘R,’ who was approved by the government’s vetting committee on Friday, of two unspecified incidents of misconduct.
Hagit Pe’er, who heads the Na’amat women’s organization, spoke out against Stern and said: “It is an embarrassment and a disgrace that a publicly appointed government minister chooses to propagate this message to the Israeli public. [Stern] should remember that the law requires that sexual assault complaints be thoroughly investigated, even when they are anonymous. 

MK Elazar Stern (credit: COURTESY/OFFICE OF MK ELAZAR STERN)MK Elazar Stern (credit: COURTESY/OFFICE OF MK ELAZAR STERN)

Yael Sherer, the head of Israel’s lobby against sexual violence, who served under Stern in the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, said she was “not surprised by his remarks.”
“He confessed to breaking the law and cooperating with the offenders to prevent disciplinary action against them,” said Sherer.
“I call on Stern to publicly apologize to all those who have complained,” she added.
Stern was quick to clarify his comments, saying later on Sunday that he always “encouraged every female or male soldier who was sexually harassed to complain.”
“I have said many times in the past how the culture of sex in authority relations is destructive to the IDF’s moral resilience.”
“Every soldier’s complaint regarding sexual harassment was thoroughly investigated,” Stern said.
Stern’s office responded to the uproar over his comments by saying “minister Stern as a human being, father of daughters, officer and elected official is deeply disturbed by all sexual harassment and believes Israeli society and law enforcement agencies are obligated to have zero tolerance on such an essential issue.”
“The time has come for men in powerful positions understand that when a woman complains about a powerful man, she is risking not only her entire future, but putting herself in a position of becoming a target of further assault and claims of denial,” tweeted Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman. 
“Anonymous complaints should be investigated with special care, but they still need to be investigated,” she added.
Likud MK Keren Barak also commented, tweeting that Stern’s actions as head of the IDF Manpower Directorate are more than a “disgrace.”
“Disgrace is not enough to define the scandal of not examining complaints. He was probably largely responsible for rooting and prolonging the terrible and abusive organizational culture that characterized the IDF for many years,” she wrote on Twitter.
Former Women’s International Zionist Organization president Helena Glaser, who is a member of the Jewish Agency chairmanship selection committee, said she intends to ask Stern about how he handled anonymous sexual harassment complaints in the IDF when he has his formal interview for the job.
“Elazar hasn’t been interviewed yet and when he will, I will put the question before him,” Glaser said. “As a woman who worked most of my life to promote and protect women, I have done a lot but I cannot voice my opinion now because it would not be fair. Further on, of course I will.”
Raheli Baratz-Rix, Blue and White’s representative on the selection committee, declined to respond to Stern.  
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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