Tune Out the Incitement, Israel's President Urges Public After Netanyahu Attacks Media

Reuven Rivlin's remarks follow prime minister's accusations of ‘terror’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ against Channel 12 News

Reuven Rivlin speaks in Gush Etzion, September 1, 2019.
Mark Neiman/GPO

As he marked Sunday’s start of the school year, President Reuven Rivlin called on all Israelis to avoid extreme statements during the remainder of the election campaign. (For the latest election polls – click here)

In a speech at the Mahanayim Yeshiva in Gush Etzion, where Dvir Sorek, who was murdered three weeks ago studied, Rivlin said, “Particularly on the eve of elections, when the mood is stormy and the discourse gets ugly, I urge you – don’t believe incitement and insults.”

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He continued, “Don’t listen to the voices from the left or right which are eager to radicalize the discourse. Take responsibility for our unity, because only this unity guarantees our strength. It is the best guarantee of our security.”

On Saturday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had lashed out at the management of the Keshet TV network, accusing them of “committing a terror attack on democracy.” He specifically mentioned Keshet CEO Avi Nir, Channel 12 News director Avi Weiss, and shareholders Yitzhak Tshuva and Drorit Wertheim, who is also Keshet’s chairman. His outburst followed a series of reports by Channel 12 reporter Guy Peleg, who revealed transcripts from the investigation of Case 4000 (the Bezeq-Walla case). Netanyahu claimed employees of Channel 12 News “do these coddling interviews with [Kahol Lavan’s Benny] Gantz and [Yair] Lapid, night after night, and give them easy questions. Us they put through a field court martial, they deceive, lie, and distort as they see fit.”

Of the decision by Channel 12 News to assign Peleg a bodyguard because of threats he’d received on social media, Netanyahu said, “Stop making us crazy, nobody buys it; the fake bodyguards you’re putting on your reporter you probably took from Benny Gantz’s fake bodyguard.”

On Friday, Netanyahu had called to boycott Keshet because of their involvement in the creation of the dramatic series “Our Boys,” which he described as anti-Semitic. In a post on his Facebook page, Netanyahu wrote, “Keshet’s Channel 12 propaganda produced an anti-Semitic series called ‘Our Boys,’ which is being distributed globally and gives the State of Israel a bad and false name. I’m not surprised Keshet falsely tarnishes Israel’s image, because Keshet tarnishes my name every day.”

Netanyahu asked listeners that if they or anyone they knew had a device installed that measures viewing habits to produce television ratings, that they not tune it to Channel 12. “If such a device is installed in your home, or if someone around you is connected to such a device, demand from him to avoid watching Keshet and Channel 12, because they’ve chosen to tarnish our images in the world with their lies against Israel,” he wrote.