Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the foreign media, American-born David Keyes, has been accused of sexual assault by at least one woman and of “predatory” sexual behavior by several others.
So far, two Keyes accusers have come forward publicly. The first was New York state Senate candidate Julia Salazar who identified herself Tuesday as the author of a 2016 quickly deleted private Facebook post detailing an alleged assault by Keyes. That post, covered in news reports at the time that did not name Salazar as the accuser, resurfaced recently during her run for office.
Tablet was one of several news outlets and journalists (including my brother, an editor at The Daily Beast and columnist for the Daily News) to receive an email connecting Salazar to the Facebook post. The tip came amid a flurry of reporting in Tablet and numerous other outlets on falsehoods and discrepancies in Salazar’s account of her upbringing and personal history. After receiving information connecting Salazar to the 2016 Facebook post, Tablet began an investigation into Keyes—with an effort made to keep it separate from coverage of Salazar or her campaign, so as not to identify her against her will or suggest a connection between the two matters. That investigation is ongoing. (Information about Keyes can be sent anonymously to [email protected].)
“I’ve been informed that a story is about to run which identifies me as a victim of sexual assault,” Salazar said in a statement Tuesday. “Before this runs, I want to come forward and confirm that I was a victim of sexual assault by David Keyes—the Prime Minister of Israel’s spokesperson to foreign media.”
Shortly after her statement was published, a story appeared on The Daily Caller linking the candidate to the 2016 Facebook post and adding that, according to a Salazar spokesman, “other women had been assaulted by Keyes as well.” The article’s author, Joe Simonson, and his editors at The Daily Caller have said that Salazar’s campaign made no request for the candidate’s identity to be withheld when they were approached for comment.
In an article later published at Jezebel, Salazar said:
There are reporters who I spoke to at great length on background about it, but never I wanted to speak publicly about it, never wanted attention on it, so for people to tie to it anything else in my life, or to try to conflate me being sexually assaulted with anything else that’s been reported, is really, I think, it’s really cynical and really just appalling.
Within hours of The Daily Caller article being published, Wall Street Journal reporter Shayndi Raice lent support to Salazar’s claims. On Twitter, Raice wrote that Keyes “had absolutely no conception of the word ‘no,’ called the Netanyahu spokesman a “predator” and described learning through “subsequent conversations” [Keyes’] mistreatment of women was an “open secret.”
On Tuesday night, Keyes responded to the allegations, telling Haaretz: “This false accusation is made by someone who has proven to be repeatedly dishonest about her own life. This is yet another example of her dishonesty,” he wrote.
On Wednesday, an article in The Times of Israel reported a separate incident of “physically aggressive behavior by Keyes” made by an anonymous accuser. Including the one allegation of physical misconduct, 10 different women contacted the Times of Israel with stories about Keyes. The article depicts a pattern of behavior towards women that was aggressive and inappropriate, but is unclear on how frequently the alleged behavior was criminal. Keyes was “so well-known … he was asked to stay away from certain offices that he used to frequent in New York,” according to one source while another describes “an unofficial policy that he cannot be alone with interns. It was something that was well known in the office.” All of the allegations appear to stem from the period when he lived in New York before taking the job in Netanyahu’s office.
Following the Times of Israel article, a Twitter thread from veteran Israeli journalist Barak Ravid claimed that in 2013, complaints from two women led to Keyes being barred from events held by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, (FDD), a D.C.-based think tank with which he had been associated. FDD has been contacted for comment and this story may be updated with additional information.
UPDATE: After this story was published, FDD provided the following comment, which does not mention Keyes or the claim that he was banned from their events:
“FDD takes all allegations of inappropriate behavior, either by our employees or our guests, extremely seriously. Over the years, management has put in place strict policies and best practices that reflect zero tolerance for harassment or any form of inappropriate behavior.”
Jacob Siegel is a senior writer at Tablet and editor of The Scroll.