Obama Hoping to Reach Out to Israelis, but Only One Lucky TV Station Will Get an Interview

Channel 2's Yonit Levi is in Washington preparing for the interview, the station's second with Obama, a fact that drew immense protest from Channel 10.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

U.S. President Barak Obama's main goal during his visit to Israel next week will be to speak directly to the Israeli people and public opinion, over the heads of Israel's politicians.

To kick-start that goal, Obama will give an interview to Israel's Channel 2 chief news anchor, Yonit Levi, who is currently in Washington. The interview will be filmed Wednesday morning, D.C. time, and will be aired in Israel Thurday nigth at 8.P.M.

Levi has been absent from her Channel 2 evening news show over the last few days, due to the fact she is in Washington. Channel 2 tried to keep its preparations for the interview a secret, but was discovered by competitors at Channel 10.

Channel 10 took its protest over the interview to the White House, deeming it an unfair decision to grant an interview to Channel 2. Like other Israeli media outlets, Channel 10 asked the White House for the same interview with Obama a few weeks ago.

Channel 10 told the White House that since the last and only interview Obama has ever given the Israeli press was to Channel 2 in July 2010, it would only be fair to go by the principle of rotation and give it the chance this time.

U.S. officials involved in the preparations for Obama's visit to Israel said that no further interviews were planned during the trip, and that the only slot for such an opportunity was this week. The decision to give the interview to Channel 2, they said, was driven by the desire to reach as many people as possible: As the Channel 2 evening news show has 25 percent viewer ratings and Channel 10 has only 10 percent, the decision was clear.

Aside from the television interview, Obama is also set to deliver an address to the Israeli public next Thursday at the Jerusalem convention center. Obama told the Jewish-American and Arab-American leaders that he met over the last few days that he was planning to speak about Jewish and Israeli history and about the ways to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Channel 2 news anchor Yonit Levi.Credit: Moti Kimche

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