Knesset C'tee to discuss controversial Army Radio Bill

IDF radio station files police complaint against My Israel; right-wing NGO says Army Radio "aids the enemy."

Army Radio protest 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
Army Radio protest 311
(photo credit: courtesy)
The Knesset Economics Committee will on Monday prepare for a second and third (final) reading of the Army Radio bill.
The bill concerns allowing the radio station to continue its activities for another year and broadcast messages from sponsors, and has become controversial in recent weeks as NGO My Israel has actively protested the station for “aiding the enemy in a time of war.”
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On Thursday, Army Radio and My Israel filed complaints with the police against each other.
My Israel claimed that Army Radio “aided the enemy in a time of war” and compared the station to Syrian President Bashar Assad for “turning its back on a massive public protest against its lack of balance.”
“While hundreds of combat soldiers and officers on reserve duty spread a petition against Army Radio and Israeli artists complain of being boycotted by the station, Army Radio continues to have the support of those who were interviewed again and again during wars – terrorists and Arabs that oppose the state’s existence,” the organization said in a statement.
The organization’s police complaint came after Army Radio accused My Israel of “illegal incitement and impersonation.”
Last Tuesday, My Israel called journalists and politicians from a Palestinian phone number, playing a recording of Hamas spokesman Ribhi Rantisi saying he supports Army Radio and freedom of speech.
The IDF station said that My Israel illegally impersonated Army Radio workers, called Rantisi, and asked him to speak about the station and the freedom of speech it gives him.
The following day, My Israel sent an almost identical message from Fatah official Ashraf Ajermi, who served almost 12 years in Israeli prison.
“Army Radio does not wish to confront an organization that seeks only to harm it using demagogical means that may border on the criminal,” an Army Radio spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.
“As far as cheap tricks, including recruiting Palestinians to defend Army Radio, our approach is to request that the police investigate those who stand behind this initiative, on suspicion of incitement and impersonation – both of which are criminal offenses.”
My Israel, on the other hand, posted on its blog that the goal of its protest is to allow right-wing voices to be heard on Army Radio.
“Almost all of Army Radio’s broadcasters are clearly leftwing,” the organization explained, saying that the only right-wing personality at the radio station is on at 11 a.m., “hardly prime-time.”
“We want to break the monopoly and let a variety of opinions be expressed. Our goal is for there to be balance,” My Israel’s blog reads.
“We want half of the broadcasters to have a different opinion.”
The Army Radio spokeswoman said the station covers the news in a balanced and objective way, “reflecting reality as it is,” adding that Rantisi only filled 0.0001 percent of the station’s broadcasting time in 2010.
“Any attempt to present [Rantisi] as a popular interview subject borders on slander...
and is not based on facts,” she said.
“The state-funded media in a democratic country must reflect a variety of opinions – not necessarily to strengthen or agree with them,” the spokeswoman told the Post.
“A policy of ‘burying our head in the sand’ does not serve anyone’s interest and is not democratic.”
Meanwhile, reservists gathered outside Army Radio headquarters on Sunday night to protest the radio station, saying that the government’s money would be better spent on other parts of the IDF.
The demonstrators held sings that said “Money for Golani and not Army Radio” and “Give Army Radio back to the combat soldiers.
One protester, Yair Eliash, said: “As a soldier, I never listened to Army Radio. The station’s attitude towards soldiers is somewhere between neutral, like the UN, and anti-Israel, like the enemy." Event organizers said that 250 reservists took part in the protest.