Channel 20 under fire for attacking Rivlin

MKs Herzog, Livni, shocked by nationalist channel's harsh criticism of President over Haaretz conference.

Gil Ronen,

President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Channel 20, the fledgling television channel that seeks to become Israel's "Fox News," came under heavy fire since Monday after it attacked President Reuven Rivlin harshly on its Facebook page, for participating in the Ha'aretz-New Israel Fund conference in the US alongside an activist from Breaking the Silence.

Zionist Union head MK Yitzchak Herzog wrote on Facebook that Channel 20 "is all out of shame. From this morning, the channel's editors have been wildly attacking the Number 1 Citizen, blasting away at one of the most important symbols of our rule and sovereignty, daring – with chutzpah that I know not where they are getting – to preach to him about love of Israel, as if they invented Zionism."

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) accused the channel of going beyond its license's original mandate, according to which it was to offer traditional and religious content, and "connecting tradition with political views."

Orly Yehezkel, a member of the Council for Cable and Satellite, which oversees the channel, wrote the Council's chairperson and asked to convene an urgent discussion, and possibly slap the channel with a fine. The channel, she said, "exploited a media platform in order to incite against the president, Ruvy Rivlin, and to encourage a physical attack against him."

Channel 20's director, Moti Shklar, admitted Tuesday that the post against Rivlin "was not formulated well. To write and tell the president that he is unpatriotic and opposed to the IDF soldiers is a thing in which I think we went too far."

The original post by Channel 20 accused Rivlin of "losing all shame." It said that Rivlin "is busy representing himself and not the Nation of Israel."

"The nation of Israel believes in the IDF, believes that the IDF soldiers are risking their lives for us day and night and believes that the president's job is to support them. As a private citizen, Rivlin has the right to do as he pleases, but as president he has no right to spit in the face of IDF soldiers."