Rabbi Kanievsky
Rabbi KanievskyFlash 90

The Second Television and Radio Authority, which oversees, among other things, Channel 12 News broadcasts, today responded to the many complaints filed following the broadcast of a satirical sketch lampooning Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky on the Eretz Nehederet program.

Second Television and Radio Authority Public Inquiries Commissioner David Regev claimed that the sketch did not present Rabbi Kanievsky "in a humiliating or ridiculous way," as he put it.

Immediately after the program's broadcast, many complaints were filed against the parody of Rabbi Kanievsky. B'Tzalmo demanded that the creators of the program be reprimanded and that policy henceforth forbid satirizing clerics.

In response to B'Tzalmo's complaint, a Second Authority representative wrote: "In the sketch about which you complained, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the greatest rabbis in the haredi sector, was portrayed as running the country at this time of the coronavirus crisis and whose every word had a direct effect on what was happening. In your complaint and in the other complaints, it was alleged that the sketch was offensive and presented the rabbi and Judaism in a degrading and humiliating light."

He continued: "Following the many complaints, the Public Inquiries Commission in the Second Authority opened an investigation during which I requested the response of the broadcaster, and in addition I watched the content you mentioned.

"Following the complaints, I watched the content you complained about," he added. "The Eretz Nehederet program is a humor and satire program created within the framework of freedom of expression and creation granted to its creators and at their professional discretion. Freedom of expression is a basic rule in the democratic regime in the State of Israel and should not be restricted, in my opinion, except in extreme cases of contempt, humiliation, or defamation."

"As for satire, it comes to humorously criticize the day-to-day events in the country. In this context, the program satirically and frequently criticizes the public figures in Israel who affect the lifestyle of all of us including politicians, clerics, journalists, cultural and spiritual figures, actors, artists, singers and more," he noted.

"Was the skit in which the rabbi was presented offensive, degrading, or humiliating? Watching the sketch shows that it did not deal at all with the rabbi's belief and the faith of the religious and haredi public. All the sketch did is satirically criticize the rabbi's discourse and especially that of his people with State leadership and their great influence. I do not think that the sketch presented the rabbi in a degrading or ridiculous way in these days of the COVID plague. Nevertheless, I regret if you were hurt by the content that was broadcast," said Regev.

B'Tzalmo Director Shai Glick said: "We welcome the Commissioner's supervision and his statement that the sketch did not deal with faith and is therefore permissible. This is an unequivocal statement which means that religion must not be harmed on live broadcast and it is a welcome decision."