Israeli Defense Minister Slams 'Obsessive Racist' Journalist for Questioning IDF Purchases

Channel 10's Raviv Drucker expressed concern after a local company was preferred over a German firm due to concerns that the latter would restrict cannons from firing cluster bombs

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Emil Salman

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman took to Facebook Wednesday to unleash scathing criticism of Channel 10 journalist Raviv Drucker and attack the Channel 10 investigative program “Hamakor,” which on Tuesday broadcast a report on the investigation into the army's procurement of submarines and other naval vessels.

Toward the end of the program, Drucker addressed another purchase the military is currently finalizing: new artillery cannons from Elbit Systems, which was awarded the $1.5 billion contract without a bidding process. Haaretz reported Tuesday that Elbit was preferred over a German firm due to concerns that the latter would restrict the cannons from firing cluster bombs, which are banned by an international treaty signed by over 100 countries.

At the end of the program Drucker asked, “Can anyone know if this decision was correct and proper? Behind the scenes there’s a lot of criticism of the decision,” he said. “There are a handful of people who make decisions worth billions of shekels, and our ability to determine whether it’s true that Elbit will do one thing or another is almost nonexistent.”

In an exceptional move – certainly since he was appointed defense minister – Lieberman harshly attacked Drucker in a Facebook post, calling him “an obsessive person who is motivated by personal hatred, a racist and a charlatan," and saying that "he has no connection to fair and professional journalism.” Drucker is the journalist who revealed that David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal attorney, was also the lawyer for Michael Ganor, the local representative of the shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, which was building the submarines and patrol boats whose purchase is now under scrutiny in "Case 3000," as it is known. Ganor has since turned state’s evidence in the case.

In his post, Lieberman added, “Raviv Drucker and a few other vampires are not calmed by the fact that I’m defense minister.”

Investigative journalist Raviv Drucker.
Tomer Appelbaum

More to the point, Lieberman addressed the acquisition of the cannons. He said that a committee in the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure had recommended Elbit to manufacture the cannons last March, following five months of staff work. A month later, the deal was approved by the Defense Ministry's director general.

In an unusual move, Lieberman said, he wanted to reexamine the decision, so in May a committee was established to reevaluate the need for the cannons. The committee’s recommendations were submitted to the chief of general staff two weeks ago, and he approved them. Last Thursday, Lieberman said, there was a summary meeting in his office, which was attended by Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot, his deputy, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Maj. Gen. Moni Katz, who formulated the committee’s opinion, and ministry director general Udi Adam.

“The conclusion of everyone was to approve the project,” Lieberman wrote. “These facts prove the orderly, thorough and professional decision-making process by all the relevant officials.”

Drucker responded in a blog post that he later also posted to Facebook. “It seems that it wasn’t the cannons that set Lieberman off, but other things,” he wrote. “Yesterday an especially serious indictment was issued against Lieberman’s No. 1 associate until recently, Faina Kirschenbaum, and other senior party officials – David Godovsky and Rami Cohen. The indictment is full of hair-raising facts, but there’s one unsettling riddle hovering over it. How is it that [Lieberman] isn’t involved?”