Israeli Radio Host Resigns Amid Right-wing Uproar

Jacob Bardugo called his dismissal from the show 'cowardly and political' and said the instructions came from the government

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Haaretz
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Jacob Bardugo at a conference in Jerusalem in 2021.
Jacob Bardugo at a conference in Jerusalem in 2021. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
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Haaretz

Jacob Bardugo, a right-wing pundit for Israel's Army Radio resigned from the station on Friday, a day after he was removed from anchoring the station's afternoon roundup.

Before leaving the station, Bardugo hosted his regular Friday morning program, during which he called his dismissal from the afternoon show "cowardly and political," and said that it was "intended to silence a critical and unyielding voice."

The station, operated by the Israel Defense Forces, announced Thursday that Bardugo would no longer co-host the “Bardugo and Wilenski” news roundup, but will continue to host his own Friday morning opinion show.

Bardugo said he was removed from the lineup "on the government's instruction," and that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided to muffle his voice, "which is the same voice for freedom of expression." He continued, "The battle over the right to be heard and to hear is only beginning. It will be long."

Bardugo's ouster from the afternoon program drew rage from right-wing figures. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused Israel's Army Radio of "trampling democracy" and other opposition figures said they would boycott the station.

“Jacob Bardugo's dismissal is a scandal and a testament to how the left is trampling democracy and freedom of expression," Netanyahu tweeted on Thursday, echoing his Likud party's rhetoric claiming Israeli media is biased.

“They are trying to silence the last right-winger at Army Radio, who broadcast the most balanced program on the radio," Netanyahu argued. "They will not silence the right and will not silence Bardugo."

The leaders of the "national bloc" – right-wing opposition parties, including Likud, Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism and ultra-Orthodox parties – said in a joint statement they would refuse to speak on Army Radio, adding they "call on anyone who believes in the freedom of expression to do so."

Bardugo, a Likud activist turned National Lottery chief, became a political analyst and anchor at Army Radio several years ago, making a name for himself as a staunch critic of Netanyahu’s political opponents.

He also took aim at former Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who had indicted Netanyahu on charges of corruption during his tenure, which ended this week.

According to the station's statement, the decision concerning Bardugo came from a desire to “create a clear separation between news and punditry” and the daily news show, now renamed “Five in the evening.”

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