Palestinians take cover from Israeli snipers during clashes at the Gaza-Israel border at a protest in the southern Gaza Strip March 31, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)
MKs on the Left voiced their support for broadcaster Kobi Meidan Monday, who may be fired from Army Radio for sharply criticizing the IDF’s response to Hamas-backed demonstrations on the Gaza border last week.
Meidan wrote on his personal Facebook page that he is “ashamed to be Israeli,” following the clashes that resulted in 16 Palestinians killed, most of whom the IDF said were affiliated with Hamas’ military arm. Army Radio commander Shimon Elkabetz suspended Meidan from broadcasting on Sunday, and is considering dismissing him, according to Channel 2 News.
Meidan apologized Monday evening, saying: “The words were written on my private Facebook page. They were not said in the framework of the station’s broadcasts. This separation is important and not coincidental. They were written in pain and care.”
“Not a word was written against IDF soldiers who are dear to us all. This was not the intention, and if that is how they were interpreted, I am sorry,” he said, according to ynet.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told Radio 103FM that he’s “ashamed we have such a broadcaster on an army radio station. If he’s ashamed, he should draw his own conclusions and leave the station... I hope the commander will do what he should.”
However, Liberman did not give Elkabetz orders to sack Meidan.
UN condemns Israel after over 15 Palestinian casualties in Gaza Land Day protests, March 31, 2018 (Reuters)
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara also came out against Meidan, and wondered in a tweet why there were no consequences from his other employer, the government-funded Israel Broadcast Corporation.
Zionist Union came out in full force to support Meidan’s right to freedom of expression while disagreeing with his comments.
“I’m very proud to be Israeli,” Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said, “but I am firmly opposed to firings based on freedom of speech. Liberman is defense minister and not the one who hires hosts on Army Radio.”
Similarly, Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel wrote on Twitter: “I disagree with Kobi Meidan’s opinion, but I just as firmly disagree with any attempt to fire him or cause him to quit. I’m glad we have the right and the freedom to make our opinions heard, even if I oppose [the opinion], as a supreme value, and we should fight for it to continue to be this way.”
MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin also of Zionist Union, said: “I’m always proud to be Israeli, even when I have doubts about some things. I don’t think I would have said something like that.”
However, she called those who sought to dismiss Meidan “hysterical, censors” who “sputter non-stop about security but in reality are insecure.”
Meretz MK Esawi Frej also supported Meidan, saying “he wrote what was in his heart, because first of all, he is a person who is hurt by unnecessary death. If we’ve reached a reality in which someone who feels compassion towards Palestinian demonstrators who are shot to death are suspended from broadcasting in an Israeli radio station, we are far down the slope towards censorship.
Army Radio broadcasters can cheer for the death of Palestinians, but they can’t feel compassion. They can be proud of killing, but can’t be embarrassed by shooting demonstrators.”
Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria was among the few in the coalition who voiced support for Meidan: “It is important that the media, like anywhere else, have a range of opinions. We are a complex and varied nation, and silencing an opinion is the last thing that will help us. Stop censoring. You never know when it’ll reach you.”
Veteran Army Radio broadcaster Razi Barkai also said Meidan should not be fired because he “didn’t take advantage of Army Radio’s microphone to lash out, he didn’t attack the soldiers. He spoke from his heart as a concerned citizen, not as a broadcaster.”
The Union of Journalists in Israel asked Elkabetz not to dismiss Meidan.
“Hurting a worker for expressing an opinion, specifically if it’s outside the workplace, is inappropriate and illegal,” the union stated. “Even the discussion of the possibility of a suspension, in this case, hurts journalistic freedom, the status of journalists and the ability to express an independent opinion without fear of a witch hunt.”
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