Netanyahu Accuses Reporters of Ignoring Lies Against Him

The allegation at Army Radio is the latest in a series of the prime minister’s visits to media companies.

A shopper watching Netanyahu answer questions on Channel 2.
Moti Milrod

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued his visits with media companies, asking Army Radio reporters “They lie about me and you keep quiet?” a journalist present at the meeting Wednesday told Haaretz's sister publication TheMarker.

Netanyahu has held similar meetings with Channel 2, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and a number of right-wing journalists. At Army Radio he mentioned his brother Yoni, the only Israeli soldier killed in the 1976 raid on Uganda's Entebbe Airport to free hostages, and what he said was slanderous coverage of him.

“They disparage the memory of Yoni, an Israeli hero, and you remain quiet?” Netanyahu was quoted as saying, apparently referring to a program on Channel 10 television. “They lie about me and you keep quiet? Are you journalists?”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.

At a meeting with employees of the Israel Broadcasting Authority this week, Netanyahu admitted he regretted the establishment of a new public broadcasting corporation to replace the broadcasting authority.

In the meeting with Army Radio, Netanyahu reportedly added: “You and the corporation are small and don’t really interest me. I’m busy dismantling the Channel 2 and 10 monopoly.”

Netanyahu declined to discuss the future of Army Radio. A committee headed by the Defense Ministry’s director general is discussing the issue.

Last month, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman summoned Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel for a meeting after a broadcast about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, whom the station named a writer of some of Israel’s formative texts.

“Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will decide on the matter,” Netanyahu said. “I intend to open discussions with Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel regarding what bothers me at the station and what should be done.”

For his part, Dekel reportedly said: “I’m sorry that a three-hour background conversation got out tendentiously and incorrectly. Background conversations between Army Radio executives and the prime minster and elected officials are vital to journalistic work. I thank the prime minister for extending the talk with station workers by an hour.”