MKs express support for embattled 'Ma'ariv' paper

From across the political spectrum, members of Knesset call for gov't intervention, labor strikes to save newspaper.

Ma'ariv R370 (photo credit: Reuters/Nir Elias)
Ma'ariv R370
(photo credit: Reuters/Nir Elias)
Three MKs – Eitan Cabel (Labor), Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and Dov Henin (Hadash) – participated in Thursday’s protest outside the Ma’ariv office, while others spoke out in support of the embattled newspaper.
“This battle is bigger than just the firing of 2,000 Ma’ariv employees,” Cabel explained. “This is a fight for organized labor in Israel. The fact that the owners of Ma’ariv are trying to only pay the fired workers 70 percent of the damages they deserve according to law is a declaration of war on unions.”
Cabel called on Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini to call a strike in all workplaces owned by Nochi Dankner, who sold the publication on Thursday to Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, owner of Makor Rishon.
“This is an emergency, and the Histadrut must use all of its tools to prevent the collapse of organized labor in Israel,” he added.
Henin called Ma’ariv’s possible closure a danger to Israeli democracy, which he said cannot exist without the free press.
“This morning we learned that masses of workers will go home, but a newspaper called Ma’ariv will continue to be published. A few people will be selected, if their politics match that of the rightwing extremist who purchased the paper,” he stated.
Meanwhile, on the Right, Orlev said that allowing 2,000 workers to lose their jobs is “a lack of responsibility of the first order.”
“This state abandons workers, settlements and factories. It is a problem, and that is why I came to show my solidarity,” he added.
Also on Thursday, Yisrael Beytenu MK Moshe Matalon called for the government to intervene and help the newspaper’s workers.
“It cannot be that the public and the workers will have to pay for tycoons’ adventures,” he said. “The state should take steps to ensure that the workers’ rights are not harmed and they get their full salary, to the last shekel.”
Matalon accused Dankner of “insensitivity, lack of mercy and audacity towards his workers, who are losing their jobs and will have to fight just to eat.”
On Wednesday, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) posted on his Facebook wall: “Ma’ariv cannot be shut down. In a sea of biased media, the newspaper is exceptional.”
According to Arik Bender, Ma’ariv’s longtime Knesset reporter who is currently fighting to keep his job, Ben-Ari was the first right-wing politician to show support for the newspaper.
“You won’t find anti-Zionist messages or political campaigns in Ma’ariv,” Ben- Ari wrote. “Ma’ariv should not close, and the Right should stand up for its right to exist.”
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.