Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came under fire from the left on Monday night, after he branded veteran Channel 2 journalist Ilana Dayan a leftist, in response to a feature on her show “Uvda” which revealed the goings-on behind the scenes in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The feature included interviews by dozens of former aides to Netanyahu and senior officials who told stories of, among other things, how a leading candidate for Mossad chief lost out because he was not prepared to pledge personal allegiance to Netanyahu, how Netanyahu summarily dismissed his communications director for acting upon a complaint of sexual harassment against a close associate of the Netanyahu family, and how the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, routinely approves senior appointments, including of security officials.
Towards the end of the broadcast, Dayan read a lengthy, six-minute statement by Netanyahu in response to what was revealed in the investigative report.
“It’s interesting whether Ilana Dayan, who portrays herself as a knight of freedom of expression, will bring our response in full, without censorship,” the statement said, according to an English translation provided by Haaretz.
"The time has come to unmask Ilana Dayan, who has proven once again that she has not even a drop of professional integrity. Ilana Dayan is one of the leaders of concerted feeding frenzy on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which is aimed at toppling the right-wing government and leading to the establishment of a left-wing government,” it added.
"Dayan does not hide her intentions. Just two weeks ago, she declared war on the prime minister at a gathering on the public broadcasting corporation, where she said 'we must conduct this struggle like we’ve never a struggle before.' She said and now she acts. Her show this evening was nothing but a political broadcast against the prime minister and his wife, all of it a recycling of warped gossip and vicious lies,” continued the statement.
"Dayan's hatred of the prime minister is known, as is her opinion of his voters. When she interviewed the president of the United States, Barack Obama, she said: 'Most of the public in Israel voted for Netanyahu – that is part of the problem!' In other words, Ilana Dayan has a problem not only with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but with the people as well…
"Under the guise of a 'journalist' Dayan is mainly a cover for political propaganda. In an interview with Ari Shavit for Haaretz in 2010, Dayan said of Ehud Olmert, while he was suspected of serious corruption: 'maybe we lost a great prime minister… that's a reasonable option for forgiving corruption… the question of shielding him is in my eyes a complex question,'” said Netanyahu’s statement.
The statement also said that Dayan “is a member of the extreme-left. She treats Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria as 'land theft.' In the radical Haaretz newspaper she finds a 'great source of solace' and 'sanity.'”
The statement also noted, "Ilana Dayan is no stranger to persecuting soldiers. In 2004 she libeled a combat officer, Captain R., that he executed a Palestinian girl. Captain R. was fully exonerated by a military court. The District Court ruled that Dayan's report was a 'perversion of the truth' and the Supreme Court confirmed that there was slander in the report.”
"Recently Dayan featured a flattering interview with Abu Mazen [PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas]. Instead of challenging him over his inciting and shocking statement that 'I bless every drop of blood that is shed in Jerusalem,' she chose to prostrate herself in front of him on the issue of Elor Azaria, while the soldier's case is still ongoing and he has the presumption of innocence. Dayan said to Abu Mazen 'I felt ashamed when I saw that video, I was shocked and disturbed … I was even more ashamed when I read the polls and saw that so many Israeli support this soldier.’ Again we see that Ilana Dayan has a problem with the nation.”
The statement also said that Dayan “chose once again to vilify Sara Netanyahu, who in an unprecedented manner has chosen to continue, as the prime minister's wife, with her normal job as a children's psychologist in the public service sector, and in addition works tirelessly on behalf of Holocaust survivors, lonely soldiers, abused women, children with cancer and bereaved families and victims of terror attacks. Of course, none of this will ever be the subject of a special show of Dayan, who descends to the lowest levels in an attempt to harm the prime minister by attacking his family members.”
"Dayan's show this evening demonstrates perfectly why the media industry needs to undergo reform. The prime minister is determined to open the market up to competition which will add a variety of opinions, as well as an efficient national broadcaster. He will do this – even if Ilana Dayan continues her propaganda broadcasts against him twice a week," the statement concluded.
Needless to say, Netanyahu’s response to the report received more headlines than the report itself and his comments on Dayan were criticized by a host of politicians from the left.
"The Prime Minister's response to Dayan is no less of a testimony than the investigative report into who heads the Israeli government. We must not remain silent in the wake of the labeling, incitement and persecution - but work together to replace him,” tweeted MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union).
Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog chose to quote a line from his speech at Saturday night’s rally marking 21 years since the murder of Yitzhak Rabin.
“The incitement is the sane incitement. The hatred is the same hatred. The leader is the same leader,” said Herzog. The quote hints that Netanyahu was personally responsible for inciting towards the murder of Rabin, and it was met with criticism from Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that Netanyahu “has gone off the rails completely.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon claimed that Netanyahu’s statement indicates that he is unfit for office.
"If someone still had doubts that Netanyahu is unfit to serve as prime minister, his response to Ilana Dayan is the end of the story,” she tweeted. “If Netanyahu does not want to be the subject of investigative journalism, then he chose the wrong job. His reaction is a paranoid loss of temper that should not be ignored.”