Israel's 'Mr. TV' Likens Lieberman to Slain anti-Arab Extremist Kahane

Haim Yavin says Yisrael Beiteinu espouses racist views, incites hatred against Arab citizens.

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Israel's most recognizable television anchor, Haim Yavin, has offered blistering criticism of Yisrael Beiteinu and its chairman, Avigdor Lieberman. In an interview Monday on national radio, the famed newsman referred to Lieberman as "Kahane's successor," a reference to the murdered extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who headed the outlawed Kach movement.

In an interview with Army Radio, Yavin said he was concerned by the popularity of Yisrael Beiteinu.

"All these statements and threats of his - it is astonishing how something like this can happen without anyone putting an end to it," Yavin said.

"I would suggest people view this with concern. The world's greatest racists were soft-hearted, kind, smiling figures who you wouldn't hesitate to dance the waltz with at a ball in Vienna, for example," Yavin said.

Yavin, the retired host of Channel 1's nightly newscast, warned that behind a man's image always lies "this doctrine of black and white which states that whoever is not really loyal to the state is my enemy in spirit and there is no place between us."

"How many times does one need to wave the flag so as to declare, 'I'm loyal to the state,'" Yavin wondered. "This is in my view very grave." Yavin did add that he is opposed to banning the party as a whole. Kahane's party was declared illegal in 1988 and could not run for the Knesset.

"Kahane may have died but Kahanism lives and there is too much 'death to the Arabs' and hatred for Arabs," Yavin said, adding that whoever forms the next government would be wise to exclude Lieberman.

Yavin previously drew fire from the right-wing for his 2005 documentary series, "The Land of the Settlers," which found that Israel's settlements were the barrier to peace with the Palestinians.

Uzi Landau, who is penciled into the number two slot on the Yisrael Beiteinu list, responded to Yavin's statements in a separate interview Monday with Army Radio.

"A significant portion of Yavin's news reports which are allegedly by an unbiased figure were extreme in their treatment of those in the nationalist camp," Landau said.

"Whoever knew him well and whoever saw his reports - whether there was any doubt to this point - needs to highly doubt him. I struggle to figure out how people like Yavin have had no problem over the years in seeing a party like Balad in the Knesset."

Landau added that Yisrael Beiteinu is gaining in the polls because it "gives expression to the natural sentiments of the public in the face of no action."

"I sense fear from, of all places, people like Haim Yavin and especially those key left-wingers in the news media," Landau said. "Pure left, elitist, who are not ready to accept democracy and who embark on a witch hunt."

Landau accused the left of using smear tactics rather than engage in a "legitimate political argument, all the while misleading the public on a factual basis."