Micha Friedman is one of the most influential anchors on Army Radio, the IDF
radio station. In contrast to many others, Friedman, born in 1948, did not start
his media career as a soldier. He was a paratrooper and participated in the
fighting during the Yom Kippur War. His radio career starts in the early
Eighties, and ever since, he has been a civilian employee of Army Radio.
Incidentally, the vast majority of Army Radio anchors are
Friedman’s morning program, airing at 7 a.m., sets the agenda
for almost the rest of the day. He competes successfully with the IBA’s Arye
Golan in the parallel slot. In contrast to Golan, who has usurped the public
microphone and opens his program every morning with his personal thoughts,
Friedman seems to present to the world the image of the professional anchor, who
asks the tough questions and whose sole purpose is to bring to his audience the
news as is. But all is not as it seems.
Last February, the IBA’s Yaron
Dekel was appointed to head Army Radio. At the time, Friedman was interviewed by
Globes correspondent Roi Barak. His views regarding the station impressively
demonstrate his lack of ability to understand public dissatisfaction with it.
According to Friedman, “Galei Zahal [Army Radio] is an excellent station and
there is no reason why it should not continue as such.” He went on to say that
“one cannot claim that the army radio station is a conscripted station. In no
way can one describe the station as serving only the needs of the
Friedman was hurt by the online MyIsrael social media campaign
against the station. In his words, “This contemptible campaign against
Galatz, whose headline was that the station is a ‘knife in the back of the
soldiers’ is a terrible phenomenon.
"The fact that so few people
disassociated themselves from this campaign has hurt me personally, also as
someone whose children gave their soul to their country in the army. The
attempt to describe us as traitors is despicable and terrible. I dare to think
that some of the people who initiated this campaign don’t really try to listen
With this as context, it was very interesting to follow an
interview conducted by Friedman on November 20, in the midst of the war with
Hamas, with Amit, a soldier who on that day was entering the army, and his
mother. We thank Talya Mann for bringing this interview to our
Between “Red Alert” announcements notifying the public of
imminent rocket impacts, Friedman asked the following questions, in an overly
persistent manner: “Are you enthusiastic about entering a battle? Are you
familiar with this question which is being asked not only of civilians entering
the army but also soldiers in active duty who want to participate in the big
game? There is a war in Gaza, do you in your fantasy wish that you were there?
And let’s say that you were there, what do you think should be done in this war?
What should be the purpose that the State of Israel has to define for itself as
well as for you the soldiers who participate in it? Do you have trust [in your
Friedman then questions the soldier’s mother: “When your son is
drafted in the middle of a war which does not seem as if it is going to end
soon, at least according to the events of this morning, is this not a clue as to
what he should expect in the future? Doesn’t your heart flutter? This war has
now turned into a personal one for you, you know you watched it together with
the children.... Listen, more or less all of the Negev, you hear, we hear
together in response to the red alert [sirens]... You heard the boy who said
that he too wants to partake in this story, of course this will not happen, but
I am talking about his fantasies or things that guide him and you don’t say
Amit, calm down, take care of yourself... As a mother and a citizen these are
conflicts of interest.”
And he ends with “Rachel Kedmi, Amit Kedmi, thank
you, and hopefully things will be better, what else can we say on such a
We purposefully cite the questions asked by Friedman and not
the answers given by the soldier and his mother. This is because it is the
questions that are revealing here.
Consider: Friedman relates to the
young soldier as a “boy,” he does not have much respect for the “boy’s” mindset
or thinking. His questions indicate that serving in the army is a
conflict, while one of the basic tenets of Zionism is that the time has come for
the Jews to take up arms and defend themselves.
Of course, defending
yourself is dangerous business, everyone knows that, yet many consider serving
in the army to be an honor, nonetheless. Many mothers worry about their
children, yet they educate them to volunteer for the toughest of
Is not Friedman attempting to instill defeatism in his questions
to this young conscript? Is this the task of an Army Radio employee at a time in
which the Jewish people have to fight for their very existence? As noted above,
Friedman does not feel that the station serves the army. For him it is “a war,”
not “our war.” Friedman could have phrased his questions very differently and
they would have still remained interesting. Some would “stabbing the army
in the back” to be an apt description of Friedman’s interview.
this interview is not the only such incident. Friedman has little respect for
the ethics code which demands complete separation between news and
views. Responding in September to the travails of Tourism Minister Stas
Meseznikov, Friedman added at the end of the program, among the standard credits
to the various editors, “and for drinks and a good time, Stas
Like his counterpart Arye Golan, Friedman does not hesitate
to make his personal opinion known – and it usually is left-of-center.
example, in September 2009, he called Minister Moshe Ya’alon a political UFO,
because Ya’alon attacked the Israeli Left. Army Radio’s ombudsman, who received
a complaint from Adi Arbel, defended Friedman. Friedman does not like the
In July he commented that a program reviewing the Second
Lebanon War would “most likely not have haredim on it.” Moshe Finkel
complained and Army Radio responded by saying they were sorry if some listeners
were offended by the comments.
It is not surprising that Friedman feels
at home in an army radio station which allows him to make sure the station does
not serve the needs of the army. But if Army Radio doesn’t serve the needs of
the army, why are soldiers conscripted to it? Indeed, under such circumstances
our country would be better off without the station altogether.
authors are respectively vice-chairman and chairman of Israel’s Media Watch