Attorney General attempts to thwart Liberman's ban on poet

Defense Minister: 'With all due respect, I reject the Attorney General's position out of hand.'

Uzi Baruch ,

Avichai Mandelblit
Avichai Mandelblit
Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

Following Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s order to ban playing and interviewing Israeli poet and songwriter Yehonatan Geffen on Army Radio, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attempted to thwart the move, claiming that the Defense Minister does not have the authority to make such an order.

On Monday, Geffen published a short poem on his Instagram account glorifying Palestinian Authority teen Ahed Tamimi, who in December had slapped soldiers stationed in the village of Nabi Salih during riots in the area. In the poem, Geffen compared Ahed Tamimi to heroic victims of oppression throughout the generations, from David against Goliath to Chana Senesh, who courageously parachuted into Europe to rescue Jews during the Holocaust and was later tortured and murdered by the Nazis, to Anne Frank, murdered in the Holocaust.

“A pretty girl 17 years old did a terrible thing

And when a proud Israeli soldier

Again invaded her home

She gave him a slap.

She was born into it and in that slap

Were fifty years of occupation and humiliation.

And on the day that the story of the struggle will be told

You, Ahed Tamimi,

The redhead,

Like David who slapped Goliath,

You will be in the same ranks as

Joan of Arc, Chana Senesh and Anne Frank.”

“I instructed this morning the commander of Army Radio to cease playing or interviewing Yehonatan Geffen on all station broadcasts,” Liberman said Tuesday morning. “The State of Israel will not grant a platform to a man who compares a girl who perished in the Holocaust and a heroic warrior who fought the Nazi regime with the brat Ahed Tamimi, who attacked a soldier. Geffen’s headline-seeking is sickening and outrageous.”

In response, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit declared that Liberman does not have the authority to ban Geffen on Army Radio.

“The Minister does not have legal authority to get involved in content broadcast on the station,” Mandelblit announced. “Legal authority to establish the content that will be broadcast on the station lies in the hands of the station’s professionals alone.”

Nevertheless, Liberman refused to retract his order, announcing that he “rejected out of hand” the Attorney General’s position.

“My job as Defense Minister is to serve as a shield for all soldiers in regular and reserve service who cannot respond to politicians and public figures. I am guided by the law of common sense, which stands above every bureaucratic directive,” he said.

“Notwithstanding my respect and esteem for the Attorney General, in this case I reject his position out of hand. It would have been preferable that he condemn Geffen, who belittles Jewish history and IDF soldiers. Army Radio is, first and foremost, a military station, and will not serve as a platform for the assault of this or that enemy of the people on our soldiers.”

Geffen is associated with the left and has often been criticized for attacking IDF soldiers, since he himself was given an exemption from military service for medical reasons..