Yoni Ben Menachem, the director- general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, has been ousted from his radio program at the behest of IBA chairman Amir Gilat, who heads the committee responsible for broadcast content.
Ben Menachem, formerly a senior Arab affairs journalist with the IBA, served in an intelligence unit in the IDF before taking up journalism and has excellent, wide-ranging contacts in the Arab world. He interviewed Yasser Arafat before the signing of the Oslo Accords.
He has served as director-general since 2011, the same year in which Gilat took up his position as chairman. There was bad chemistry between the two almost from the start, especially after the IBA opened new offices in March 2012 and in the press release distributed by IBA spokeswoman Linda Bar, Ben Menachem received more credit than Gilat.
Bar had included Ben Menachem’s photo and not Gilat’s. He also began to undermine Ben Menachem, acting independently of him, according to sources.
Ben Menachem’s popular program Middle East Magazine has been running weekly for some eight years. Among the regular panelists is lawyer Amnon Zichroni, who once represented Ben Menachem in a private legal matter that had nothing to do with the IBA. Zichroni is a veteran negotiator for the release of Israelis who have been taken captive by enemy forces.
At the most recent meeting of the content committee, documents were produced showing that Zichroni had once been Ben Menachem’s lawyer, which would be sufficient reason to disqualify him from the program, despite his credentials.
Gilat pressed for Ben Menachem to stop broadcasting the program and for another host to be appointed. He also pushed for the program to be revamped and presented in a different format.
It is not certain whether Ben Menachem will comply with the order given to him. Several members of the IBA plenum have resigned over the past year or two because none of the decisions made by the committees on which they served were implemented.