Israeli Journalist Says Army Radio Tried to Spike Investigative Report Into Sheldon Adelson

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Sheldon Adelson at the National Israeli-American Conference in Washington, October 2015.
Sheldon Adelson at the National Israeli-American Conference in Washington, October 2015.Credit: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

The former head of investigative reporting at Army Radio has claimed that the station’s news director tried to block the broadcast of the former’s probe into the conduct of U.S. casino magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson in Israel.

In a Facebook post from Saturday, journalist Avner Hofstein also said that Avi Barzilai threatened to fire him unless he disclosed his confidential sources for the investigation.

Adelson owns Israel Hayom, a free daily Hebrew newspaper that is often seen as highly supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has been a major donor to the U.S. Republican Party.

In his post, Hofstein wrote that a year and a half ago he wrote an investigative report linking the possible acquisition of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center by Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, to the latter’s appointment to the organization’s board of directors. The report featured a recording of the executive director of the Hadassah women’s organization in Israel, Audrey Shimron, discussing the interest expressed by the Adelsons in the purchase.

Shimron is married to David Shimron, a lawyer for Netanyahu who is the focus of an Israel Police investigation into alleged irregularities in Israel’s purchase of German submarines.

According to Hofstein, Barzilai refused to broadcast the report at first and argued that it might be better for Hadassah Medical Center to be sold. Hofstein says station manager Yaron Dekel was in favor of the broadcast, which was also approved by the station’s legal adviser. After Barzilai unsuccessfully tried to convince others at the station that the report should not be broadcast, he then demanded that Hofstein disclose his source for the recording, according to Hofstein’s account. Hofstein said he refused to disclose his source, and the report was ultimately broadcast.

Avner HofsteinCredit: Tomer Appelbaum

Hofstein was fired as head of investigative reporting at the station this year. The station management said it was due to the need to cut staff.

After his dismissal, Hofstein wrote a Facebook post in which he attacked both Dekel and Barzilai, saying in part that the station’s management is “corrupt to the bone.”

In a written statement, Army Radio said Hofstein’s remark were “not worthy of a response. From the day Avner learned that he was facing dismissal, he embarked on a series of smears of various kinds and this was one of them.”

Barzilai did not respond to requests for comments.

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