Before entering Israel’s Knesset this year as a member of the Likud party and winning a series of prestigious committee assignments, Oren Hazan ran a casino on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. That, however, may turn out to be neither the most surprising nor the most controversial of his resume points: According to an Israeli investigative news program, he also supplied call girls to his clients and was seen doing hard drugs, including methamphetamine.
On Tuesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein suspended Hazan, who serves as his deputy. Hazan, meanwhile, has vehemently denied the report and has said that he plans to sue the reporter responsible for libel. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the sexual fantasies, sick personality and the morbid imagination of yours and those that fed you the story are not founded in reality,” Hazan wrote on Facebook.
According to the Channel 2 report, Hazan served as a gateway for Israeli tourists to drugs and prostitutes in the Bulgarian resort. “He knew how things worked, took us to… prostitutes… spoiled us. He knew the right people. He knew where and what, he knew where to go,” one such tourist told the program. Another tourist said he had spent a night with Hazan smoking methamphetamine and marijuana.
A strip club, the Red Rose Club, next door to Hazan’s casino, allegedly served as a supplier for prostitutes. “He would send for me, he would call me and say, ‘Go and bring the girls, bring some beautiful girls… and bring these girls here,’ to some place, to my friends,” a driver who claimed to have been employed by Hazan told the program. The strip club’s manager described Hazan as “the big boss” and that he paid upfront for call girls.
The revelations are a blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new Likud government, which was elected in March following a hard-rightward turn by its leader during the campaign. The party surprised observers by winning 30 seats, squeezing Hazan into the legislature. He was 30th on the party’s list of candidates.
Since then, Hazan has secured a series of prestigious postings, including most importantly on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Hazan also sits on the Knesset’s Committee on Drug Abuse.
When he returned to Israel to launch his political career, Hazan was following in his father’s footsteps, a former Likud member of the Knesset, according to a Middle East Eye profile of the legislator. Hazan’s father was convicted of voter fraud and obstruction of justice, and Hazan turned that piece of history into a weird selling point for his campaign, publishing a video in which his father impersonates Marlon Brando as a mafioso and asks his son to return to Israel to reclaim his lost honor. “This is your opportunity to return dignity to the state and amend the wrong done to me as a Knesset member,” Yehiel Hazan says, according to the Middle East Eye’s translation. “I trust you to do the job.”
Judging by the ridiculous photos floating around of Oren Hazan on Facebook from his time in Bulgaria, he gave up quite a fun lifestyle to reclaim his father’s lost honor.
Photo credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images; Facebook: Oren Hazan