An internal investigation by the Israel Broadcasting Authority shows that footage screened on Channel One's evening news report last week was "doctored." The clip shows Prime Minister Netanyahu waving to a crowd of people yelling "Death to the Arabs!" The first-stage findings show that the volume of the screaming may have been turned louder, making it appear that Netanyahu could hear them. Atty. Miki Mazar, a member of the IBA plenum, said, "It could even be that there were no screams against Arabs at that rally at all, and that they were 'imported' from some other film." She said, "This is something that one could expect only in the worst dictatorships."
A reaction by the Union of Israeli Journalists said that the film clip was treated only in the normal fashion, and did not undergo tampering for political or other reasons. Shelly Yechimovitch, hostess of a popular morning radio talk-show known to take a left-wing approach to timely issues, announced today that her studio was "flooded with faxes and calls from listeners who want to know why we are not discussing this issue, and whether this is a whitewash." She explained that new IBA Director-General Uri Porat has issued an order not to deal with the issue until the findings are final, "and that as soon as we can, we will be happy to deal with it."
Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Director-General Uri Porat notified the IBA executive committee yesterday that two employees of the television news department would be removed from their positions for "purposely tampering" with a television film clip in a manner that portrayed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as encouraging incitement. Letters of reprimand will be issued for Israel Television Director Yair Stern and News Division Director Rafik Halaby, for their "ministerial responsibility." Natan Guttman and Elisha Spiegelman, editor and deputy editor of "Mabat" nightly news program, will be removed from their positions.
The film clip in question showed Prime Minister Netanyahu waving to a crowd of Beitar soccer fans at the team's victory celebration. Shouts of "Death to the Arabs!" that were sounded at a different time in a different area of the stadium were spliced onto the scene of the Prime Minister, making it appear that he heard and encouraged the shouts.
Deputy Education Minister Moshe Peled said, "I am happy that the IBA finally has someone who is courageous enough to investigate all the injustices that have been carried out in the name of objectivity." The left-wing has begun calling for the decisions to be put on hold, saying that they are a great injustice to freedom of speech. Aryeh Avneri, head of head of the Israeli Journalists Association, said, "This will have a negative effect on the journalists' work; they will have to stop and ask themselves every time if they should edit a certain piece this way or not."
Israel's Media Watch, an independent organization that reviews the professional and ethical conduct of the media, demands that the matter be investigated by the police. Media Watch was the organization that first submitted a complaint against the doctored film clip. Yisrael Medad, director of Media Watch, told an Arutz-7 correspondent today, "The matter has a criminal angle as well as an internal disciplinary angle, and we demand that the police continue to investigate what appear to be acts of breach of trust and deception committed by public servants." Medad added, "We demand protection for Israel's media consumers. The Knesset members and others who demand that IBA Director Porat reconsider his decision are more concerned for the journalists than for the consumers."
Eli Pollack, Chairman of Media Watch, reminded the listeners of Arutz-7 of other similar "doctoring" jobs whose perpetrators were never disciplined: "There was the famous case of Avishai Raviv and the Eyal organization, where a swearing-in ceremony of young right-wing militants was staged solely for the benefit of the television cameras, and shown on television as if it had really happened; this case is still under police investigation.... In another case, the author Naomi Frankel was interviewed one morning, and she mentioned Binyamin Netanyahu, and she also mentioned that the Israeli left is the worst thing to happen to Israel in the 20th century. An hour later, the radio news-magazine host announces that Naomi Frankel called Binyamin Netanyahu the worst thing to happen to Israel in the 20th century. They said then that this was a mistake, and that was the end of that. But there have been other similar cases... Investigators from the TV show Popolitika were sent to 'dig up dirt' on Gabi Butboul, a member of the IBA board, who had dared to criticize then-IBA Director Mordechai Kirschenbaum. An investigation was made, and letters of apology were written, and they tried to sweep it all under the carpet in this way. But we, together with others, appealed to the Supreme Court, as this appeared to involve crimes of deceit, breach of trust, mis-use of public property, etc. This will be heard in the Supreme Court on June 15."
The Labor Court issued a restraining order against IBA Director Uri Porat this afternoon, preventing him from removing Deputy Television News Editor Elisha Spiegelman from his post until a hearing is conducted on the matter. The Court will also hear the case of News Editor Natan Guttman on Monday. Porat had earlier today issued an official order forbidding Spiegelman and Guttman from editing future news reports on Israel Television. Porat and the IBA board found that Spiegelman and Guttman "purposely doctored" a film clip in such a way as to portray the Prime Minister as approving and encouraging anti-Arab incitement.
The National Federation of Israel Journalists released today an announcement condemning the "campaign of fear and harassment that has been going on for several weeks against Broadcasting Authority journalists." The Federation announced that it "stands by the news division employees... who carry out their duties professionally and with integrity. It will fight for the independence of public broadcasts and for the principle of freedom of speech." Yisrael Medad of Media Watch told Arutz-7 last night, "Many of the broadcasters are on the left of the political spectrum. This is fine when it comes to their vote at the polls, but not when it is manifest - at it so often is - in their choice of interviewees, the type of questions they ask, how they ask them, how they present the news, etc. I am not surprised [therefore] that the other journalists have come out in defense of Spiegelman and Guttman."
IMW is a registered non-profit organization whose major aim is assuring the ethical and fair conduct of the Israeli media.