Let's stop being punching bags

Was MK Tibi ever asked "What's it like to be Arafat's right-hand man?"

By MICHAEL BEN-ARI
March 26, 2009 10:23
3 minute read.
Let's stop being punching bags

michael ben ari itamar ben gvir. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

A week and a half ago, I was asked to be interviewed on Kol Yisrael by Arye Golan. The interview lasted about 50 seconds, and was subsequently publicized as "the shortest interview in history." It also created unprecedented feedback from listeners all over the country, protesting the fact that Golan hung up on me. What caused the interview to be so abruptly aborted? Basically, it was Golan's style of question asking, and my unexpected response. Let me reiterate some of the points I have already explained to people who have addressed me on this issue. It's already been a few days where I am no longer a private person, having been voted into the Knesset to represent the tens of thousands of Israeli citizens who sent me to represent them. By the same token, we must remember that that same radio broadcaster is also a servant of the public who receives his salary from the state, and is by no means the owner of the radio station. The true owners of the radio station are the citizens, and not just those who reside in Ramat Aviv. The interviewer opened with the question: "How does it feel being a self-proclaimed Kahanist inside the Knesset." To me, this question was hardly an innocent one, nor was it legitimate. Over the past few months, I have been asked questions of this type over and over again, and I have never denied the fact that I am a devoted student of Rabbi Meir Kahane. But this time, the tone and style were different. It was a transparent attempt to marginalize and delegitimize me, as they did to Kahane 25 years ago. For them, a Kahanist is someone who can be defamed, abused and banned. And one can even hang up the telephone in his face, telling him in street talk: "Ya-ala." It is clear that he who is marginalized in such a way, will not succeed in getting his message heard. He will be considered, as religious Jews call it, muktze [untouchable]. THE FASCINATING aspect of all this, is how the same Kol Yisrael radio broadcasters treat Arab MKs such as Ahmed Tibi or Taleb a-Sanaa. We never heard Tibi get hit with a question like: "What's it like to be the right-hand man of the murderer Yasser Arafat," or a-Sanaa being asked: "What's it like to be a self-proclaimed PLOer in the Knesset?" I represent a constituency that the media never give a break. For state TV and radio, the Right is always "extreme," while the Left is humanitarian and the pursuer of peace. That is why, in a split-second decision, I responded: "How does it feel being a self-proclaimed Gush Shalom peacenik." To refresh your memories, Gush Shalom is not just another left-wing movement, but the product of PLO lover Uri Avneri, devoted friend of Arafat. The fact that Golan walked around with a Gush Shalom sticker is undeniable. It's pretty hard to deny what appears in a photograph. Golan claims that he happened to be at a Gush Shalom gathering, when someone put the sticker on him, and out of respect to Avneri, he didn't remove it. Yeah, right. And if someone had put on his shirt a "Kahane Was Right!" sticker, would he have let it remain there for even a second? I was criticized by some who claimed I may no longer be given airtime. How scary! The fact is I prefer not to be toyed with like a monkey in a cage, made into a punching bag by some pompous talking head. And all for a few minutes of media coverage. Golan explained to his buddy Yaron Dekel that he stopped the interview because he "didn't want to justify himself for five minutes." Neither did I. In closing, I am proud of the fact that I have been selected to represent the followers of Kahane, from whom I learned the concept of "ahavat Yisrael" (love of Jews). I also learned from him that one should not grovel. I have nothing against Arye Golan, I don't even know him. But it appears that he and Kol Yisrael realize they made a mistake. Golan suddenly losing his cool tells me that I was right in my assumption. I will continue to struggle for a balanced media - we deserve it. The writer is a National Union MK.


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