Israel's Channel 20 rebuked over interview with Jewish terrorist

"Freedom of speech is very important but it is important to distinguish between that and legitimizing violence."

November 13, 2018 18:10
1 minute read.
Israel's Channel 20 rebuked over interview with Jewish terrorist

A worker cleans up in a torched classroom in an Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem November 30, 2014. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)


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Israel’s broadcast authority issued a harsh rebuke on Tuesday to Channel 20 for an interview with a convicted terrorist it broadcast on Sunday.

The Second Authority for Television and Radio said that the interview “crossed a redline,” and that it was initiating proceedings against the network for violating broadcasting regulations. Such a process could result in sanctions or financial penalties levied against the station.

“TV licenses are not given to any media body to promote a private agenda,” said the authority’s chairwoman, Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich on Tuesday. “Freedom of speech is very important, but it is important to distinguish between that and legitimizing violence.”

The interview in question was conducted Sunday evening by TV host Boaz Golan with Jewish extremist and convicted criminal Yitzhak Gabai. In 2014, Gabai and two other members of the right-wing extremist group Lehava set fire to a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem. All three were convicted and sentenced to prison for their actions.

During the Channel 20 interview, Gabai expressed no regret for his actions, and said that spending two years in prison was worth the crime. He also explained to Golan how he and his accomplices pulled off the crime – including the equipment they brought and their advance preparations. All the members of the panel were laughing and joking during the interview, and none condemned the arson attack.

On Monday, Uri Zaki, a leftwing activist and founder of the Democracy Defense Front, said he filed a complaint with the police accusing Channel 20 of “incitement to violence, racism and terrorism.”

In a statement Monday evening, the network said that “the management of Channel 20 views with severity the interview held last night on the show Open Studio with the criminal Yitzhak Gabai, who set fire to the bilingual school in Jerusalem. The interview deviated from all accepted norms and we completely disapprove of both the crime that Gabai committed and the manner in which he was interviewed on the show.”

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