Collected News Items about the Assault
on Free Speech In Israel

   I began collecting these items on January 17th, 2000.


Arutz Sheva News Service
Tuesday, July 11, 2000

     Voice of Israel Radio Director Amnon Nadav complained today that the Prime
Minister's Office is applying heavy pressure on his workers regarding the
manner in which they report on the Israel-PA negotiations.  He says that
the pressures have increased of late, in light of an anticipated national

In today's Hebrew edition of the left-leaning Ha'aretz, diplomatic
correspondent Aluf Benn launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister
Barak's lack of political savvy and manipulation of the media.  Following
is an excerpt from the article:

"The rise and fall of Ehud Barak will yet be learned in political science
forums as a thrilling lesson in the anatomy of a political collapse.  Barak
needed only a year to lose his magic, to plunge the state into a serious
constitutional crisis.  The Prime Minister claims that 'the people are
sovereign,' ....and that the parties, the Knesset, and cabinet ministers no
longer play an important role in fateful national decisions.  Historians
will ask the question who Barak really is:  Is he - as his supporters claim
- a synthesis of some flesh and blood messiah and Gulliver - whose vision
was stifled by the shackles of coalition punks?  Or perhaps he is an
arrogant whipper-snapper, [bent on making his mark] in history?"

"Barak believes that he has received his mandate from the nation.  The
more Barak is ousted from the political system, the more he tries to speak
directly to the nation and in the name of the nation... In his pre-election
campaign commercials, Barak presented himself as a true leader, unlike
Binyamin Netanyahu, who [Barak claimed] 'ruled only on television.'
Barak's [inarticulate style] was even presented as a sign of his
trustworthiness.  There is nothing further from the truth!  No Prime
Minister before him - not even Netanyahu - made such efforts at
manipulating the electronic media.  Barak and his office attempt to
influence the content of programming in every manner possible, from
determining camera angles, through gathering information on [upcoming]
talk-shows, thrusting interviewees supportive to his policies onto TV and
radio spots, and lodging endless complaints against reports and analyses
[by television and radio reporters]."

MK Uzi Landau (Likud) also claims that he has proof that members of the
Prime Minister's office - including Cabinet Secretary Yitzchak Herzog - are
brazenly interfering in broadcasts.  MK Landau explained that Barak aides
are exerting pressure on news and program editors and even, in some
instances, have offered bribes.  Next week, Landau hopes to convene a
session of the Knesset Audit Committee for an urgent deliberation on the



   The owner of a hall in Haifa has been summoned for police questioning for the "crime" of allowing a group of pro-Golan activists to meet on his property.   A policeman and policewoman arrived in the middle of the meeting last night, and said to owner Yigal Abutbul, "What are you connected with these guys for? What are they doing here?"  The officers ordered him to show up at the police station tomorrow.  Public figures and lawyers who were present at the time reacted with astonishment, and one of them said, "This shows that Israel is becoming a KGB state in every sense of the word."  They said they would accompany Abutbul to the police station.

    The police told Abutbul's lawyer that the timing of the summons was simply a "coincidence," and that Abutbul was being called to provide testimony about an event that was held in his hall over a year ago.  Abutbul himself, however, told Arutz-7 today that that explanation is not true:  "The policemen last night did not mention the event of a year ago at all, and said clearly that they were summoning me about the event that was going on at the time [last night].  I am a law-abiding citizen, and have held meetings here for many other parties - the Likud, the Communists, Arab parties - I couldn't sleep all night worrying about this.  What, I'm not allowed to rent out my hall to nice Jews who are worrying about their rights?..."

Jan 18 2000 Arutz 7

   On Jan 18, the Attorney-General announced that he decided to indict MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), on charges of insulting a public servant: Speaking in April 1999 at a closed forum of about six people, Lieberman called a police officer "racist" and "an anti-Semite." ...

   Atty. Mordechai Haller told Arutz-7's Ron Meir today that in his opinion, the Lieberman case is not an example of the crime of "insulting a public servant," as the remarks were made in a closed forum with no expectation that they would reach the referred-to public servant.  Haller said that this particular law appears to negate the goals of a democratic society, in that it inhibits the free exchange of ideas which is so basic to a democracy. 

Jan 19 2000 Arutz 7

IMW DEFENDS FREEDOM OF SPEECH Israel's Media Watch submitted a criminal complaint this morning against three employees of Reshet Aleph (Channel A) of Israel Radio: Director Eitan Almog, and broadcasters Judy Lutz and Elihu Ben-On. IMW claims that they prevented call-in listeners from raising the issue of the police raid of Arutz-7 almost three weeks ago, thus violating the Broadcasting Authority law. "Israel Radio is not private property, but rather belongs to the public, and its employees must not censor callers," claims IMW.

Jan 17 2000 Arutz 7

   Citizens from around the country have called Arutz-7 of late to complain of "intensified" police activity regarding actions that heretofore have not been regarded as illegal. A Golan volunteer in the southern town of Netivot, Elkanah Ba'avad, reported as follows:

"We were a group of about 20, with the proper police permits and all, standing on street corners, engaged in the traditional practice of pasting [Golan] bumper stickers on cars [after asking the drivers' permission]. A policeman came over and said that whoever steps off the curb onto the street would get a ticket [summons]. We said, 'What?! We just want to give them stickers!' He said, 'There's no point in arguing - I've received orders from higher up.' We're talking about the most common thing in the country - putting bumper stickers on cars..."

From the Tel Aviv area, at the busy Mesubin junction, Eli Abramovitch reported the following:

"Because we stood on the street and asked drivers if they wanted bumper stickers, a policewoman actually came up to us and gave my friend a ticket for 70 shekels. The ticket actually reads, 'for standing on the street not during the course of duty.'"

Arutz-7's Kobi Sela was told that not far away, this happened:

"Our friends were hanging posters about the giant Golan demonstration, when suddenly we saw a police car stop near them. We went over and joined them. The police questioned us, and took down all our information, and even after we said that we would not post the posters anymore, they threatened us that if they saw any other posters, they would come back to us... They also threatened us with arrest."

These stories come on the heels of an item reported here two weeks ago, that took place in the Galilee township of Ma'alot: Citizens who displayed pro-Golan posters and banners on their apartment balconies were informed that they could not do so without municipal approval. Despite the fact that they were given 24 hours in which to remove the signs, many of the posters were forcefully removed by city inspectors within minutes after the calls were made. Other residents attempted, unsuccessfully, to receive permission from the municipality for the banners.

Jan 17 2000 Arutz 7

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