Israel Hayom complains: PM's bureau ignoring us
The editors of the free Hebrew-language newspaper published by the American-Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson are complaining that the prime minister's bureau refuses to respond to queries from the paper's correspondents because of the publication's critical stance vis-a-vis Ehud Olmert. The bureau denied their claims.
Believing the prime minister's bureau is ignoring requests from Israel Hayom, the paper's attorney, Yoram Bonen, last week wrote to the legal advisor of the Prime Minister's Office, Shulamit Barne'a-Fargo, to ask her to instruct the bureau "not to discriminate against the paper."
Olmert's media consultant, Yaakov Galanti, denies the existence of any discrimination. In his response to Barne'a-Fargo, he added: "I doubt very much that Israel Hayom can be called a newspaper. A 'printed product,' I think, better describes Israel Hayom."
Both Adelson and editor-in-chief Amos Regev are both generally considered to have close ties to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, of the Likud. Since the first appearance of the daily paper, five months ago, it has pursued a highly critical line with regard to Olmert's performance. The paper's top columnist, Dan Margalit, is a vocal critic of Olmert.
In his letter, Bonen said that claims that Israel Hayom was identifiable with a certain political line were "as preposterous as they are outrageous."
Galanti begs to differ. "The prime minister has met the paper's publishers on many occasions. The publisher [Adelson], in a manner that was neither preposterous nor outrageous, made no attempt to hide where he stood politically and the political purpose of the printed product he is publishing. The same publisher is meddling in Israeli politics, meeting with opposition leaders and is trying to influence them in politically unequivocal terms."
The prime minister's media consultant went on to suggest that Israel Hayom was "in fact a party paper disguised as a mass medium, in an attempt to bypass the local laws that apply to political funding."