MK katz and Shamah-Cohen
MK katz and Shamah-CohenIsrael news photo: Office of MK Katz

Only two out of 31 members of the council overseeing Israel’s public broadcasting wear a kippa. The bias against nationalists, reflected on Israel’s radio and television news shows, may change as a result of a change suggested by National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority, which operates the popular Voice of Israel radio and Channel One television, has a legal mandate to represent “all sectors” of the public” but only “as much as possible.”

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, chaired Likud MK Carmel Shama HaKohen, has agreed to change the law so that it will require the supervising council to present sectors according to their relative size, as shown by Central Bureau of Statistics figures.

MK Katz said that the current phrasing has resulted in a “distortion” that does not reflect the consensus in Israel, leaving many sectors feeling isolated.

A Justice Ministry lawyer objected to MK Katz’s suggested change and told the Knesset committee that it is not practical for the broadcasting authority’s supervisory council to have a specific number of members for each sector.

MK Katz replied, “How would you feel if there were 29 hareidi religious members, all of them with peyot [sidelocks] and only two secular representatives? Would you still say that?”

Voice of Israel government radio has often been criticized by nationalist media watchdogs for one-sided commentary and “soft-glove” interviews with Opposition leaders while giving rough treatment to government ministers.

Last year, an anchor for privately-operated Channel 2, was publicly criticized for editorializing the speech Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made, to thunderous applause and standing ovations, in Congress.

Voice of Israel government radio also was at the head of media campaigns in favor of the expulsion of Jews and the destruction of their communities in Gush Katif in 2005. It also had a clear agenda in promoting freeing more than 1,000 terrorists and security prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Several of those freed already have been re-arrested for terrorism.