As befits a right-wing, “settler” radio station, the Galei Israel studio is located on a windy hilltop at the end of an unpaved road in Samaria. But those expecting Yehoshua Mor-Yosef – the crocheted kippa-wearing director of the newly licensed station – to be broadcasting from a prefab caravan bristling with guns will be in for a surprise.

Galei Israel, meaning the Airwaves of Israel, began broadcasting February 22 from its spacious, 700-square-meter, state-of-the-art studio in a brand new, if not-quite-finished building atop an elementary school in Givat Ze’ev, 10 kilometers northwest of Jerusalem. The air conditioning doesn’t work yet and some of the 60 staff members haven’t yet figured out how to turn on the energy-saving light switches in the washrooms.

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For Mor-Yosef, who served as secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip from 2000 until the Gaza disengagement five years later and was the associate news editor of the unlicensed Arutz Sheva based in Beit El, it’s all part of the pioneering experience. In any case, he gestures, the radio station buzzes with the energy of a newsroom.

“In another year we’re hoping there will be Reshet Bet, Army Radio and Galei Israel,” Mor-Yosef suggests, with his high-voltage smile.

The new station is still working out the bugs, he notes. Though Mor-Yosef’s business card and all of the station’s promotional materials note the frequencies the Communications Ministry assigned – 97.5 and 106.6 FM – the station has had to change to 102.5 and 106.5 FM. (It can also be tuned in at www.Radio-Isr.co.il.)

“Pirate radio stations in Ramallah were interfering with the broadcasts. Also, Radio Beat from Amman interferes with 102.5,” he notes.

Mor-Yosef’s new station – which can be heard from Afula to Beersheba, as well as in Judea and Samaria – sounds not all that different from other Israeli commercial radio, with its mix of Hebrew pop music, current events commentary and hourly news – all with a subtle nationalist and religious spin.

“Like Haaretz, we have an agenda,” Mor-Yosef freely acknowledges. For example, you won’t hear Aviv Gefen, who officially was dismissed from IDF service for medical reasons.

“We don’t broadcast singers who don’t serve in the IDF,” says Mor-Yosef. “Not that we check everybody’s military file. If you’re embarrassed by us, then we’re embarrassed by you.”

After Pessah, the station will launch an advertising campaign on buses and in flyers distributed in synagogues under the slogan “Breaking the Silence.” Mor-Yosef says his target audience is the national camp and “patriots,” who “might recite kiddush and then turn on the TV.”

Mor-Yosef is hoping to attract Jerusalemites in particular.

“It’s in their DNA,” he opines.

But those listeners won’t be tuning in Friday night or Saturday; Galei Israel doesn’t broadcast on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.

Notwithstanding the new station’s right-wing politics, Galei Israel is a commercial venture financed by businessmen Yossi Saban and Tzvi Shalom, the owners of Gal Hadarom Ltd., which operates Radio Darom in Beersheba and Radio 102 FM in Tel Aviv. Shalom is the brother of Likud MK Silvan Shalom, presently minister for regional development, who has been supporting the settlers in their various campaigns.

“The other stations are commercial. This one is ideological. But they believe this will also be profitable,” Mor-Yosef explains. “The owners have patience, and deep pockets.”

Though brand new, Galei Israel has had a complex history. In 2007 Saban and Shalom applied to the Communications Ministry for a license to broadcast in Judea and Samaria. Gush Shalom (the left-wing peace bloc) then filed two High Court petitions against the creation of the station, claiming it would lead to the “legitimization” of the unlicensed pro-settler Arutz Sheva station. Gush Shalom also claimed that the Second Television and Radio Authority, which oversees regional radio, may not legally hold a tender over territory that has not been officially annexed to the state.

Recently peaceniks have demanded that Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon authorize a new radio station catering to the political Left to mirror Galei Yisrael.

“The creation of a right-wing station obligates the creation of an equivalent left-wing station,” wrote Gabi Lasky, an attorney for Gush Shalom, to Kahlon. “Neglecting to create a station for Israel’s dovish community would disrupt the delicate balance in the Israeli media.

“The matter is pending, and depends on the outcome of the legal process,” reads a Communications Ministry statement. “We will reply to the relevant authorities.”


Even the name of the new radio station has been the source of controversy. The original name was Radiosh – a neologism combining “radio” with the Hebrew abbreviation for Judea and Samaria. To the displeasure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the Second Authority then permitted Radio Judea and Samaria to change its name to “Radio Israel.” The IBA petitioned the courts for an injunction against the new name.

The IBA said its public radio service, Voice of Israel, is the only radio station permitted to use the term “Israel.”

A senior IBA official said, “This is deceit being practiced on the listeners and on the public.” He added that Voice of Israel broadcasts are cited throughout the world as Israel Radio, and that it is known as an objective and bias-free station.

The official said, “Use of the name ‘Israel’ by a radio station that serves only the population that resides beyond the Green Line is liable to cause us damage.”

To avoid confusion with Voice of Israel, Mor-Yosef agreed to change the new station’s name to Galei Israel.
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