yair lapid 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset Law Committee on Monday postponed a vote on a new version of the
“Lapid Law,” which calls for the introduction of a suspension period for
journalists who wish to run for office.
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The bill, named after the popular
anchor and possible Knesset candidate Yair Lapid, was submitted by MK Ronit
Tirosh (Kadima) and echoes a similar bill submitted by MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen
(Likud) in the previous Knesset seat.
Both Tirosh’s and Shama- Hacohen’s
bills aim to impose a waiting period that would prohibit journalists from
working in the media in the months leading up to the elections.
concern, according to Tirosh, is that the journalists have an unfair advantage
over their competitors, using their role in the media to bolster themselves in
their election campaign.
Both bills, for the purpose of the law, define a
journalist as someone who carries a Government Press Office Identification card,
works as a paid reporter, presenter or anchor in an outlet that reaches the
national market, and someone who provides coverage or analysis on political
The bill would require a change in the Basic Law of the
In Tirosh’s bill the suspension period would be six months and
in Shama-Hacohen’s a full year.
“Unlike other citizens, journalists and
other people who work in the media have the tools and power to shape public
opinion and they can use that power to their own advantage,” Tirosh
As an example, she cited the case of journalist-turned-MK Shelly
Yacimovich, who on the day prior to joining the Labor party, gave a favorable
interview to then party chairman Ehud Barak.
Tirosh said that like
government officials, judges and military officers who have suspension periods
ranging from 47 days to three years, journalists who want to enter politics
should also be forced to suspend themselves from their roles prior to
“We expect the media to be as objective as possible in its
coverage, even though we realize that like all people journalists can never be
completely objective. The moment the media intervenes in politics it creates
problems. We want the two worlds to be kept as separate as possible, just like
we do with the military or the judiciary,” Shama-Hacohen said.
to the bills included MK Daniel Ben- Simon (Labor) and MK Nitzan Horowitz
(Meretz), both former journalists who made the shift to
Ben-Simon, who left his job at Haaretz a year before joining
the party, said journalists interested in entering politics should impose a
suspension on themselves, but that there should be no law ordering them to do
“I don’t want to see any laws that limit participation in
politics. In light of the current chaos in the Knesset, I believe we can
use all the help we can get,” Ben-Simon said.
Horowitz rejected the
proposal altogether. He said there was no difference between journalists and
other high-profile people in other sectors.
“A journalist has no more
influence over public opinion than a business leader, a high level academic or
an influential rabbi,” Horowitz said.
He reminded the committee that
notable politicians in Israeli history, like Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky,
also worked as journalists and there is no reason their latter-day colleagues
should be excluded.
Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) also
opposed the law, saying it would prevent all journalists from running for
Rotem said the law established that elections must be held within
five months of the dispersal of the Knesset, and that a six-month suspension
would mean journalists could not run at all.
Rotem also said the bill was
at risk of producing a slippery slope for keeping members of other professions
from entering politics.
He gave as examples other professions that
influence public opinion, like surveyors or columnists, and asked the bill’s
proponents if they would exclude such professionals as well.
Bieber announced during one of his concerts that he would get an Israeli
citizenship and run for office, he would wield far more influence than any
reporter. Can we expand the limitation to all fields?” Rotem asked.
suggested that instead of looking for a legislative solution to the issue, the
bill’s sponsors meet with the Israel Press Council to develop a professional
code of ethics and other means of limiting media abuse by journalists aspiring
Other journalist who turned to politics include Education
Minister Gideon Saar, Deputy premier Silvan Shalom and MK Uri Orbach (Habyit