Right-wing radio broadcaster Yossi Ben-Atar is being put on a short hiatus from the airwaves, following the controversial remarks he made about Yamina MK Shirly Pinto.
During a broadcast Tuesday, Ben-Atar insulted Pinto and made defamatory remarks against her for being deaf.
"Shirly Pinto is stupid and dim-witted. It is good that you are deaf and we don't hear your high-pitched voice; it's good that you don't know how to speak," Ben-Atar said on the Galei Israel radio station during his daily program "Nerve Center," which is characterized on the station's website as "a program that enables its listeners to say their opinion on any topic in the news."
His comments were a response to a tweet where she criticized opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
In response, Pinto threatened to sue the radio host should he not apologize.
In a letter, the law firm representing Pinto noted that Ben-Atar's defamation not only hurts her, but "a community of about 800,000 people, women and children, deaf and hard of hearing, who were ridiculed," according to Maariv.
She demanded that Ben-Atar give a sincere apology by Thursday.
יוסי בן עטר, רדיו גלי ישראל: "שירלי פינטו טיפשה סתומה, טוב שאת חירשת ואנחנו לא שומעים את הקול הצרצרי שלך, טוב שאת לא יודעת לדבר". pic.twitter.com/RP5SLR1AbM— ישראל פריי (@freyisrael1) October 19, 2021
The radio host did exactly that later in the day.
"Yesterday, I did something extremely despicable," he stated. "Political criticism is something that should be done for every politician, but hurting people, especially people with disabilities, is forbidden! It's shameful! Disrespectful! And in truth, it's especially inhuman.
"I apologize to MK Shirley Pinto wholeheartedly, and will go on a short hiatus."
Ben-Atar's remarks against Pinto, Israel's first-ever deaf MK, were criticized by members of the government.
"The attack on Shirly Pinto is an attack on any person with disabilities in Israel," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter in her defense. "I would like to strengthen my friend Shirly – we are proud of her and proud that she is a Member of Knesset."
Galei Israel issued an apology on Twitter, and put Ben-Atar on hiatus.
"Radio Galei Israel is unwilling to accept statements of the type that was spoken and apologizes to MK Pinto and anyone else who was hurt," the tweet read.
"It should be noted that the presenter apologized for his words soon after they were said."