Netanyahu bans Al Jazeera, GPO embraces it

Government Press Office seminar of freedom of speech to feature bureau chief of news agency accused of incitement, blood libels.

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Uzi Baruch,

Al Jazeera office
Al Jazeera office
Flash 90

The website of the Government Press Office, which is subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office, announced that a seminar will be held next week to discuss freedom of expression.

The website contains an ad saying that one of the participants in the conference will be none other than Dr. Walid Al-Omari, the bureau chief of Al Jazeera's Israel branch.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the closing of Al Jazeera's Israeli offices several weeks ago.

"The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount," Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post last month. "I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem. If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel."

Arutz Sheva reported this morning that Al-Jazeera has recently propagated a long-discredited blood libel from Ukraine that Israel regularly murders children.

The Al Jazeera “report” centered on the words of a young Ukrainian Jewish woman, Elena Zakusilo, also known as Elena Gluzman, on a Ukrainian game show episode broadcast in November 2013. In the show, called The Lie Detector, a lie detector machine ostensibly tried to verify whether the words of the contestant were true or false.

Zakusilo, who, prior to the airing of the episode, had served in the Israeli army, was asked by the interviewer whether she had killed people during her army service, and answered in the affirmative. The lie detector then established that her statement was “true.”

"The first time I killed was very difficult for me. I threw down my weapon and said I was not going anywhere, but I went," she said on the show.

She went on to claim that she had killed children during her service, and that she did not know how many people she had killed.

Zakusilo’s words on the show had already been proven in 2013 to be a complete fabrication.

After Ukrainian Muslims expressed outrage when the show was aired, an Israeli investigation with IDF authorities found that Zakusilo’s words on the show were, indeed, false. The findings of the investigation were then forwarded to Ukrainian security officials, who established in December 2013 that “Elena Zakusilo did not participate in military confrontations, including those between Lebanon and Israel. Everything she said on The Lie Detector does not conform to reality," it was concluded. "Her answers on the show were given in accordance with a script prepared by the lead editor of the program.”

Further, the Israeli Foreign Ministry checked and found that, although Zakusilo had served in the IDF, she had served in a low-ranking administrative position during which she had no involvement in the type of activity in which she had claimed to have participated on the show.

Yediot Ahronot reported that, in light of the above, the Government Press Office turned to Al Jazeera in Israel, demanding to know why their “report” was nevertheless aired. Al Jazeera’s Chairman in Israel, Walid Al-Omari, confirmed last night that he had received the request and had forwarded it for further investigation.