Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet Shaked Shachar Azran

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) defended Irit Linur, an Army Radio pundit, Thursday after she was suspended for calling President Rivlin 'an insolent piece of work'.

Shaked told Army Radio that Linur had been a victim of left-wing censorship and strongly protested the decision to temporarily remove her from the air. "You brought me here an interview and it's important for me to protest the suspension of Irit Linur," said Shaked.

"You should tolerate Linur's criticism as part of freedom of expression," said Shaked. "This isn't the first time the station has done this. Your station has called me fascist and autistic, yet I don't make a big deal about it. A radio station is supposed to give everyone a platform."

Shaked said that as a publically funded radio station, Army Radio shouldn't censor different viewpoints "unless of course, they are against IDF soldiers because this station is part of the IDF. Criticism can be expressed, but not when it is against IDF soldiers."

Linur had taken issue with President Rivlin's apparent support for the weekly anti-corruption rallies across Israel, which often target the right-wing. "The only thing you’ve been able to do is serve as a deputy minister, and now, as a president and national symbol, you call on citizens to go out into the street [against the current government]? You insolent piece of work! Who do you think you are?" asked Linur on her Tuesday show.

While Linur once expressed left-leaning views, and represented the left on the show The Final Word - based roughly on the format of the American show Crossfire - in recent years she has offered criticism of the Israeli left.

Army Radio head Shimon Alkabetz decided to suspend Linur as a result, saying in a statement that "Irit Linur’s comments on the president were not fitting, nor was the way they were expressed".

Rivlin later clarified that he was not calling for Israeli citizens to demonstrate against the government. "To remove any doubts, I will say as clearly as possible, I never called on anyone, nor would I consider calling on any Israeli citizens, to join in this, or any other, protest," he said. "It is inconceivable. I only regret that at this sensitive time my words were taken out of context in order to add fuel to the fire."

Army Radio has come under fire in the past for failing to be objective and skewing towards the left side of the political map. One host made headlines in 2014 after he declared popular singer Ehud Banai persona non grata because Banai performed in Susia, the site of a Jewish comunity from Talmudic times where archaologists found the remains of a synagogue and mikvah, located near Hevron in Area C.