Free Speech and ‘Expulsion’

Can government radio ban the use of the term “expulsion” in ads promoting the Gush Katif Museum? The High Court will decide next week.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 11:12 AM

Expulsion at Gush Katif in 2005
Expulsion at Gush Katif in 2005
Israel news photo

The High Court is to decide next week on an appeal against government broadcast authorities who banned the word “expulsion” from commercials promoting the Gush Katif museum. The museum, located in Jerusalem, depicts life in the Jewish communities before the government destroyed them and expelled the residents in 2005. The expulsion itself is also documented there.

The Israel Broadcast Authority has banned the term "expulsion" from the ads on the grounds that it is “political and not informative.” The Committee for Saving the Land of Israel (SOS) appealed to the High Court to overturn the decision.

A three-judge panel on Wednesday suggested the use of the alternative term “forced evacuation,” but the plaintiffs rejected it, arguing that the freedom of speech allows the museum’s use of the word "expulsion.”

                       Gush Katif Museum
Aviad Visuli, attorney for the petitioners, told the judges that “forced evacuation" does not convey the suffering of the approximately 9,000 Jewish residents, including the elderly and little children, whose possessions were taken away and whose homes were destroyed. Many of them remain even today without permanent housing and employment.

“We cannot agree to the laundering of words in order to justify the horrible expulsion,” the lawyer told the court. He charged that the broadcasting authorities have political motives in trying to “to impose on us the use of leftist words like ‘evacuation’ and ‘disengagement.’’’ The latter phrase was coined by aides to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who engineered the policy to end a Jewish presence in Gaza.

High Court Justice Elyakim Rubenstein said at Wednesday’s hearing that the use of the word “expulsion” may be problematic for commercial advertising, Visuli argued that the government used political terms in commercial advertising following the expulsion. The commercials’ statements that the government has “a solution for every resident” amounted to “throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” he asserted.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority claimed support for its position by relying on speeches by then-Meretz Knesset Members Avshalom Vilan and Ran Cohen, who objected to the term “expulsion.”

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