Heritage Channel appeals ruling in Reform movement lawsuit

Channel 20 appeals to High Court over fine for failing to represent Reform and Conservative movements.

Rafael Levi,

לוגו ערוץ 20
לוגו ערוץ 20

Channel 20 (The Heritage Channel) has appealed to the High Court against the Cable and Satellite Council (CCSB), the Ministry of Communications, the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel (the Reform Movement), and the Masorti Movement (Conservative), seeking to cancel the 100,800-shekel fine they received for failing to adequately represent the Reform and Conservative movements on their channel.

The station claims that the Council lacks an official policy for representing the movements in general, and for Channel 20 in particular. According to the petition, the Council's decision to impose the fine was hasty and resulted from pressure exerted by the non-orthodox movements.

The Cable and Satellite Council fined Channel 20 in July for refusing to represent the Reform and Conservative movements. The council also demanded that Channel 20 send them a monthly report detailing their coverage of the non-Orthodox movements.

In the petition, Channel 20 demanded the Council establish clear policy for representing the Reform and Conservative movements.

According to the petition, the Council's decision to fine Channel 20 over the exclusion of the Reform and Conservative movements was hasty and impulsive because "the Council was subject to pressure exerted by the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel and the Masorti Movement."

Channel 20 claimed that the council succumbed to pressure and "reacted in panic, without taking into account a number of fundamental considerations," including the fact that in Judaism there are endless different movements, rendering it impossible to maintain a television channel that gives equal representation to each of them."

Channel 20 stressed that the non-Orthodox movements are negligible in Israel, saying that "they make up less than a fraction of a percent, although they are more noisy than their proportion of the population".

Channel 20 has tangled with the Reform and Conservative movements before. In 2016, they responded to a letter sent by the CCSB warning that their policy towards non-Orthodox streams was inviting a fine by accusing Reform Judaism of dividing the Jewish people.

"We hereby state categorically that we do not believe Channel 20 should air attempts to divide and split the people of Israel,” Channel 20 wrote on Facebook. “There are fake Rolex watches and Adidas shoes all over the world. Let’s not counterfeit Judaism; let’s not divide the Wall," they wrote.

"If one can’t divide Jerusalem - and one can’t - than surely the Western Wall plaza can’t be divided. That’s the beginning of the end. If our license is revoked, then let it be so. The integrity of the Jewish people and of the Wall plaza are much more important and larger than anything else, even us.”

Host Eral Segal, a major personality on the network, blasted Reform leader Rich Jacobs. "Thank you for coming to Israel, to the people who watch over your house so you can throw stones at them," he said.