Smotrich: Army Radio is leftist, time to privatize it

MK says military radio station should be closed after it played a song celebrating mixed marriage between Jewish actor and Arab TV anchor.

Tzvi Lev ,

Former IDF Chjef of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi at Army Radio
Former IDF Chjef of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi at Army Radio
Flash 90

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich said that the IDF's radio station should be privatized, alleging that Israel's Army Radio was wasting taxpayer money and pushing left-wing views.

Army Radio, functioning since its inception as a military unit headed by a commander, is one of Israel's highest-rated stations. The majority of its staff are enlisted soldiers, who often use the prestigious platform to launch their media careers.

Smotrich was incensed after Army Radio played a special song to celebrate Wednesday's wedding between Arab-Israeli journalist Lucy Aharish and Jewish actor and 'Fauda' star Tzachi Halevi. According to the lawmaker, "the military radio station of the Jewish state, which is funded by all of us, opens its broadcasts at 8 AM with a dark song of assimilation."

Smotrich argued that Army Radio's decision to celebrate the mixed-marriage was an "additional record-breaking point in the tremendous disconnect between the media and the public - which according to all the recent surveys, an absolute majority of opposes intermarriage."

"Another reason to shut down immediately," Smotrich added.

Smotrich had another dust-up on Wednesday with Army Radio's military correspondent Tzachi Dabush regarding the role of the rabbinate in the military. Dabush had reported that army rabbis were improperly posting signs in IDF dining halls ordering soldiers to shut off their cell phones on Shabbat while eating or face disciplinary action.

According to Smotrich, Dabush was pushing anti-religious propaganda supplied by the radical Secular Forum.

"As it is, you (Dabush) are a spokesperson for the Secular Forum, but to buy their lies without a minimal journalistic investigation?" asked Smotrich, adding that the report was " a stupid fake item from the New Israel Fund's house organ in Army Radio".

"Let's go already, we need to close this unnecessary station already," Smotrich said.

Army Radio has come under fire in the past for failing to be objective and skewing towards the left side of the political map. The claims of political bias resurfaced earlier this year after popular right-wing host Arel Segel left the station, despite enjoying higher ratings than any other journalist, and many Israelis blame the station's non-acceptance of his conservative views as the reason behind his sudden departure.