IDF Spokesman Weighs in Against Army Radio as Defense Minister Mulls Its Future

Chief of staff last year called for closing the station or reassigning it from the army to the Defense Ministry.

The outside of the Army Radio building, located in an aging tenement in Jaffa.
David Bachar

A few days after Army Radio's film critic was suspended for a Facebook post containing ethnic slurs and two weeks after the defense minister ordered an examination of the station, the army spokesman suggested that the aims of the media and the aims of the military were fundamentally incompatible.

“It’s clear that if we were setting up the army today, Army Radio would not be a part of it. The role of the media is to criticize the military. The Israel Defense Forces does not need a media outlet within it,” IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said Monday in an interview with Israel Channel 10 television.

On Monday Army Radio film critic Gidi Orsher was suspended by station commander Yaron Dekel after Orsher wrote a Facebook post containing derogatory remarks about Mizrahi Jews.

In a statement, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman praised Dekel’s decision and said Orsher should be fired.

Two weeks ago, Lieberman instructed Defense Ministry Director General Udi Adam to carry out a review of Army Radio and to make recommendations about its future. Adam was told to submit his findings by the end of July.

A year ago, as a multi-year plan for Army Radio was being formulated, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot voiced support for either closing the station altogether or transferring it from the IDF’s responsibility to a division of the Ministry of Defense. Nothing happened with the proposal, due to the objections of then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Eisenkot argued at the time that there was no justification for maintaining the military radio station under the current circumstances, saying that at time when air force squadrons and tank brigades are being eliminated and thousands of people are being retired from the career army, he could not justify the station’s operating costs.