Following Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s rebuke of the Commander of Army Radio, Yaron Deckel, IDI President Yohanan Plesner said:
“The comparison that the defense minister made between Mahmoud Darwish and Adolf Hitler is yet another gross example of cheapening the memory of the Holocaust. The attempt to signal to Army Radio that an academic program that deals with a poet who is a cultural symbol for more than 20 percent of Israeli citizens – an intellectual figure that could impact the future of all Israelis’ lives – is unacceptable and harms freedom of expression in Israel.”
Plesner continued, “The fact that the defense minister summoned the commander of Army Radio to scold him, and even the fact that he interfered with the station’s content despite a ruling by the Attorney General, is yet another example of senior politicians not being able to withstand the temptation to harm freedom of the press in the State of Israel.”
Plesner said that over the last few weeks there has been a worrying trend toward harming these important democratic values. Additionally, he noted that delaying the start of a new public broadcasting corporation, the Knesset Channel bill and the recommendations of the Communications Ministry Committee weaken the central players in the commercial television industry in a manner that seriously jeopardizes Israeli democracy.
Said Plesner: “Decision makers should stop this unrestrained misbehavior and understand that a strong, stable democratic regime must maintain full freedom of action for all media outlets and journalists.”