I’m about to be outed as a survivor of sexual assault. Here is what I have to say about that: pic.twitter.com/WFjNhzBee8— Julia Salazar for State Senate (@SalazarSenate18) September 11, 2018
New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar has come forward as a sexual assault survivor of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s key aide, after the right-wing site Daily Caller threatened to out her.
In a tweet, Salazar wrote the conservative site wanted to “cast doubt” on her character as well as other women accusers, who have come forward to allege Israel’s spokesman for the international media, David Keyes, sexually assaulted them.
As Salazar’s campaign gained momentum, she has also been hit by a number of controversies.
Multiple reports accuse her of lying about her Jewish heritage, her claim of being a Colombian immigrant, coming from a working class background and an outlandish legal battle involving former Mets player Keith Hernandez, surrounding rumors of alleged affair, theft and arrest.
The 27-year-old Latina Democratic Socialist alleged that in 2013 when she was studying at Columbia University, Keyes contacted her on Twitter. The man was then the executive director of human rights nonprofit Advancing Human Rights and co-founder of CyberDissidents.org and he suggested they have a meeting for an article Salazar was writing on Israel for her school’s chapter of JStreet, an Arab-Israeli advocacy group.
That month, they met at a coffee shop in New York’s Upper West Side and from there, decided to go someplace else. While she was engrossed in conversation, Keyes took her to a luxurious building with a doorman.
“I remember thinking: Is this normal? Huh, I guess this is normal. I don’t really know this guy, but he seems totally fine,” Salazar told Jezebel. “We were just talking about politics.”
She said then when she walked into a one-bedroom apartment, alarm bells started ringing in her head. Minutes later, she said Keyes attacked her.Keyes “physically powered over me, put his arm around me and started forcibly kissing me,” she told Jezebel. “I was resisting… I kept saying ‘I have to go, I have to go.’”
However, she soon realized Keyes would not take no for an answer. The man undressed himself and then forced Salazar to perform fellatio on him. As soon as he was done, Salazar said she ran out of the apartment, crying.
However, Keyes didn’t leave her in peace even then.
He kept trying to make contact with her until finally Salazar told him she was “uncomfortable” with what happened and didn’t want to see her again. Keyes sounded surprised but did not admit he was in the wrong but told her not to discuss the incident with someone else.
“I really isolated myself,” Salazar told Jezebel about the aftermath. “I think I thought very briefly about reporting it, and immediately was like, no way. This guy is powerful. I don’t have proof.”
In March 2016, Keyes was appointed Netanyahu’s foreign media adviser. Salazar felt she was being vindicated and wrote a Facebook post about her alleged sexual assault. Only her friends could see the post but one of them leaked it to the press. After the story broke on the Times of Israel, Keyes had to take the post down and ask media outlets to not name her in their subsequent articles.
News media article only described Keyes as a former Columbia student, a member of JStreet, worked on campus with the World Zionist Organization and was a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. They also claimed the woman was arrested in New York during a protest against Israel and was later banned from entering Israel.
According to the Daily Caller, a source who claimed he was a former friend of Salazar told them the post belonged to her. The Daily Caller then reached out to the Senate candidate, in what it says, was an attempt to ask “for confirmation, as reporters from other outlets have in the past… In past stories on the sensitive issue of sexual assault of both public and private individuals, we have declined to print without permission from the alleged victim.”
However, the email, published by the far-right site paints a different picture.
“I have sources telling me Julia was behind the sexual misconduct accusations lobbied against David Keyes in 2016. She later deleted the social media posts with the accusations,” writer Joe Simonson wrote to Salazar’s campaign in his request for comment. “A description of the accuser in a Times of Israel piece also perfectly matches Julia. Why did she delete these accusations? Does she still stand by them? My deadline is in one hour.”
From the email, it doesn’t seem like the Daily Caller was much concerned about Salazar’s approval at all and would have published the story, with or without her permission.
As for Keyes, an Israeli official said after the news broke in 2016 he “completely deny the charge, there was absolutely no coercion in our encounter.”
“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 told The Times of Israel.
After the revelation, many people spoke up in support of Salazar and one reporter from the Wall Street Journal said she encountered a similar incident with Keyes.
I also had a terrible encounter with David Keyes once and 100% believe her. I knew this would come out about him at some point. https://t.co/u9uo4pAlHh— Shayndi Raice (@Shayndi) September 11, 2018
The man had absolutely no conception of the word “no.” No matter how often I said no, he would not stop pushing himself on me. I was able to extricate myself quickly and it was a very brief and uncomfortable moment but I knew as I walked away I had encountered a predator.— Shayndi Raice (@Shayndi) September 11, 2018
In subsequent conversations, I had discovered his mistreatment of women was an open secret. (I should note this happened before he worked for the prime minister.)— Shayndi Raice (@Shayndi) September 11, 2018
“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,” Salazar said.
“I obviously never planned to speak about this publicly on the record at all. Our integrity is attacked. We receive negative attention. I think that it’s really sad that this could dissuade other women, other survivors of sexual assault in general, from speaking out,” she added, claiming it could dissuade women from running for office.
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