Ex-defense Minister Blasts Lieberman for Trying to Turn IDF Radio Into 'Pravda'

'Silencing critics, dismissing people, that has been happening more than a little in the past year,' Ya'alon says of his successor's decision to call military radio head on broadcast for Palestinian poet.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon at The Marker conference on July 20, 2016.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon at The Marker conference on July 20, 2016.Credit: Motti Milrod
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon used a little tongue-in-cheek humor to blast his successor and political rival, Avigdor Lieberman, on Wednesday for calling the Army Radio chief on the carpet for airing a program about a Palestinian poet.

"Finally Army Radio will be broadcasting some truth. Truth in Russian is ‘Pravda,'” Ya'alon said at a conference hosted by The Marker, referring to the Russian word for "truth" which was also the name of a onetime Soviet-era Communist Party newspaper.

“Silencing critics, dismissing people, that has already been happening, more than a little in the past year,” he added, alluding to his own being forced out of his job by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision in May to name Lieberman in his stead.

Lieberman summoned Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel for a meeting scheduled for Thursday, after a July 19 broadcast about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish during the station’s “University on the Air” program. Darwish was named as a writer of some of Israel’s formative texts.

“This is a serious issue in which someone who has written texts against Zionism – which are still used as fuel for terror attacks against Israel – is included with his works as part of Israeli society’s formative texts,” Lieberman said via his communications adviser.

Lieberman saw the broadcast as evidence of “a cultural decline and it’s impossible to continue with business as usual.”

Poet Mahmoud Darwish in Ramallah in 2007, a year before his death.Credit: Nir Kafri

Darwish, who died in 2008, is regarded as a Palestinian national poet.

Lawmaker Shelly Yacimovich of the Zionist Union party also slammed Lieberman’s move, calling it a “frightful and lowly” move.

“Darkness is descending upon Israel’s democracy, and this is a step like those taking by fascist regimes, and intended to instill fear,” Yacimovich said.