Justice Ministry
Justice Ministry Miriam Alster/Flash90

The Justice Ministry's "National Anti-Racism Coordinator's Office," whose stated purpose is the "prevention and elimination of institutional racism in government offices and public institutions - on the basis of skin color, origin, nationality and/or religion – towards all population groups in Israel[...]in order to promote equality and social resilience in the state of Israel," accused Arutz Sheva of "stereotyping" for a report stating that the suspect in the arson of offices of Jerusalem's city hall was an Arab (The title of the article was "Arab lights Jerusalem City Hall on fire after receiving ticket").

In a letter sent to Arutz Sheva, the office wrote that "We believe that a report like this is liable to create antiquated and stereotyping opinions about those who belong to the Arab population."

"We ask that you remove the report, and accordingly sharpen efforts to prevent reports that are liable to create antiquated and stereotyping opinions, in accordance with the guidelines we distributed to government offices."

In response, Arutz Sheva CEO and Editor-in-Chief Uzi Baruch said: "Arutz Sheva condemns any racist and discriminatory discourse, [but] is opposed to attempts to cover up national and social identities. Specifying a person's national and social affiliation is not invalid. The attempt to impose 'politically correct' standards on public discourse is improper and may turn into infringements on people's rights to freedom of speech."

Following an uproar when the letter was published on social media, however, the unit clarified to Arutz Sheva that its request was nonbinding.

An attorney representing the unit wrote: "The letter was not intended to instruct or obligate, and this request does not constitute exertion of governmental authority in any form, and in no way limits the freedom of expression and press which are fundamental in a democracy."

"I am sorry if the wording of the letter was understood differently."