On January 31, 2022, I received an email from The Wrap asking for a response to claims of sexual misconduct by 3 women: Anna Pavlova, who I rejected her advances after stalking me for over a year; Ting Ting Xu, who was seeking revenge against me for trying to sponsor Chinese journalists for HFPA membership; and Tian Li, who was upset for not employing her because she didn’t have a work permit in the US. It turned out that those women had approached other press outlets but they were rejected.
The allegations were so absurd and mostly nonsexual that my entertainment lawyer recommended denying them and not engaging with The Wrap editor, Sharon Waxman, who has a reputation for perverting facts and a history of spreading falsities about me. Instead, my lawyer sent cease and desist letters to the accusers.
Waxman’s obsession with my sex life began in 2013 when she exaggerated a rumor by an HFPA member, named Nellee Holmes, and published it, claiming that I got drunk at the New York London Hotel swimming pool -which doesn’t exist- then led a group of women to my room and took naked photos of them. There were neither victims nor witnesses nor photos. So what evidence did she have? “I have Egyptian friends who do this kind of stuff,” she told me. She knew that I was ethnically Palestinian.
A few months later, Holmes was caught trying to extort a new HFPA applicant. This time, the HFPA acted and suspended her for 6 months. The HFPA also punished me with a 3-months suspension for exposing Holmes’ extortion attempt. Like the HFPA, Waxman was not impressed either and refused to remove the article that was based on Holmes’ rumor. Instead, she continued to propagate it.
Waxman repeated those allegations again in her new article. This is what HFPA’s investigators concluded after speaking to 6 witnesses: “There is no evidence that Mr. Asi boasted that he got girls drunk, brought them back to his room, and molested them. Based on the evidence available we find, by a preponderance of the evidence standard, that Mr. Asi did not show to two female HFPA members photos on his phone of drunk, sleeping girls from a movie junket.”
On October 11, 2021, The Daily Beast revealed in an expose that Ms. Waxman ran a toxic work culture at The Wrap and bullied her employees for years. Demands for her removal followed on social media. I responded by sharing an email I had sent her in 2017, when she falsely accused the New York Times and Matt Damon of trying to block a story she was writing about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual exploits in 2004. I warned her that karma would catch up with her if she kept hurting others. It seems that she didn’t like that and contrived her latest article.
The article’s headline says that “three women accuse me of sexual misconduct,” although the claims of two accusers are neither sexual nor misconduct. But the reader won’t know that because Waxman hid the accusations’ details and my denial behind a paywall.
Her friends in the HFPA hired a law firm to investigate me. They spent five months trying to prove her claims and failed. Amazingly, they did charge me with antisemitism for allegedly racially harassing Ms. Waxman because I posted an article in Arabic, in which I detailed my experience with racism by her and by the HFPA and described her in a tweet as a “hateful zionist.”, which is not uncommon description for anti-Palestinians in Israel, where I grew up, given that she highlighted my Palestinian ethnicity in her article. In contrast to the HFPA, all my Jewish colleagues and friends stood by me, and some have sent letters condemning the antisemitism charge against me.
I showed the investigators’ report to Waxman’s co-author, Brian Welk, but Waxman ignored the report’s results, which showed that I didn’t commit any sexual misconduct, and published a new false article, claiming that I was punished because of the sexual allegations in her article.
What is perplexing is that racist prejudices are stronger than facts, hence they can be devastating. Griffith’s 1915 epic “Birth of A Nation,” in which Black men were portrayed as lustful and rapists, led to the lynching of thousands of African Americans after it came out in the early 20th century. I was the first ethnically Palestinian journalist to work in Hollywood, Waxman’s fantasies have destroyed my journalistic career and will most likely haunt other Palestinians who would follow in my footsteps.