Israeli Culture Minister ‘Crossed Line’ With Promo for Singer, Knesset Ethics Panel Rules

Miri Regev says clip for superstar Eyal Golan's show 'was designed to encourage Mizrahi music.'

MK Miri Regev, December 2, 2014.
Emil Salman

The Knesset Ethics Committee decided Tuesday that the video clip showing Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev praising the television program “Eyal Golan Is Calling You,” which is aired on Channel 24, has crossed the line and become a prohibited public relations promotion, according to Knesset ethics regulations.

The committee, headed by MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), decided not to adopt sanctions against Regev, without explanation. The decision was made after MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) asked the committee to “clarify the boundaries regarding the participation of Knesset members in commercial activity, promotion and public relations in general, and for television programs in particular.”

In the clip that Regev posted on her Facebook page last month, she is standing in a back yard and saying, “Eyal Golan is calling you. What a joy, the program is coming back. An amazing program with Israeli, Mizrahi music, joyful, moving, including the good old songs and of course finding new talents and new songs. So go for it and good luck. Eyal, good for you, great production.” At the end Regev forms a heart with her fingers.

The Ethics Committee reminded everyone that MKs are not permitted to provide sponsorship, to help or promote commercial entities, including media outlets. “After watching the clip, the Ethics Committee believes that in this case the line was crossed between a viewpoint and a declaration of policy, and even sharing a personal experience, which are permitted and legitimate, and ‘prohibited PR.’ The nature and content of the clip serve a specific program and a specific singer, and are seen as a kind of ‘promo’ for the program. An advertising campaign and PR by commercial entities is liable to lead to a violation of ethics and the imposition of sanctions.”

Regev told the committee that “the clip was designed to encourage Mizrahi music and was part of the encouragement and support I give to activities that provide a platform for Mizrahi music, as I’ve done in the past. That’s the only reason for my activities, without a blemish and without any commercial or promotional intention.”

Zandberg’s reaction: “There is a clear boundary line between participation in a television program to promote a viewpoint, and marketing a show only for commercial promotion. In a precedent-setting decision the Ethics Committee instructs the MKs to refrain from such advertising and PR, and that’s as it should be.”

Regev’s reply: “I regret the decision of the Ethics Committee, which didn’t accept my viewpoint in the letter of reply that reflects my policy. However, I respect its decision.”