Politicos Make Up One Third of Candidates for IBA Plenum

Earlier this week, Yuli Edelstein, the minister in charge of implementing the Broadcasting Authority Law, revealed his candidate for the job of chairman of the authority and his list of candidates for membership in the plenum.

For the job of chairman Edelstein recommends businessman Amnon Dik, whose candidacy will apparently be confirmed in about two months by the cabinet.

But when it comes to the list of candidates, it looks as though Edelstein is likely to encounter difficulties. On several different occasions since being appointed to the position, Edelstein has said that in his opinion, the Broadcasting Authority plenum should represent the composition of the country's population.

And in fact, among the names one can find former immigrants, academics and media people, secular and religious representatives, Arabs and Jews. However, out of a list of 29 names (including six members of the present plenum), at least one third are identified politically, are considered a politician's associate, or have worked in the past in political frameworks.

For example, among the candidates are Arik Ziv, the editor of the Likudnik Web site; Yoel Yeshurun, a Likud member of the Holon City Council who is also a professor of communications at Bar-Ilan University and Dean of Students at Ashkelon College; Esti Appelbaum-Polani, the joint director of Brand Vision and former director of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public relations staff (and a member of the "100-days" team); and entertainer Moti Giladi, an old friend of the Netanyahu family. Also on the list are Dr. Amir Gilat, former spokesman for Netanyahu and presently the head of communication and media relations at the University of Haifa.

Shas crony's wife also in the running

The list also includes a former aide of Shas leader Eli Yishai; a former female candidate on the Likud slate, a female candidate for the Carmiel municipality from Yisrael Beitenu, a female former candidate on the Meretz slate and the wife of someone close to the Shas faction.

Many of those on the list have abilities that suit the job, which is done on a voluntary basis. In legal terms, there is nothing to prevent the election of plenum members with political affiliation or ties, and certainly this is nothing new. The list includes a large representation of people involved in the media, media relations and the academic world, but only two people closely involved in culture: Giladi and poet Meron H. Isaacson, who is a member of the present plenum.

Edelstein's office said that "the principle of pluralism that guided the minister in the work of composing his list of recommended plenum members is of importance in Israeli democracy, because of the large variety of groups in the country. For that reason, the plenum is a proper reflection of all the ethnic groups, genders, nationalities and religions. There is nothing to prevent the minister from recommending suitable people who are politically oriented, from the right or the left - as is reflected in the list of those recommended. All the people have clear academic or media backgrounds. At the end of the required confirmation process they will contribute a great deal to promoting the goals of the Broadcasting Authority, without any external considerations or motives."

The candidates, for their part, refuted claims of political considerations. "I'm a Likud member but I'm a professional in my field, Internet communications, to which I can contribute," said Ziv.

"I don't believe there is anyone in the country who has no political affiliation," added Yeshurun. "It's bad news when people don't have the proper abilities. I have abilities and experience."

Appelbaum-Polani responded that "It was a honor for me to be a member of the 100-days team, but I have never run in primaries or been a politician. I'm a professor of communications with degrees in communications."

An artist, not a politician

Giladi said in response: "I care about what is happening in this country and I'm active on a voluntary basis on the issue of the struggle of artists and of culture. I'm an artist rather than a political person, although I've been a friend of the Netanyahu family for many years."

Gilat said: "I was asked to be a candidate for membership in the plenum and I'm pleased with the offer and will consider it when it's relevant. I see myself as a professional for all extents and purposes, I have never been a political person or a party member. That's how it was in the past and how it will be in the future."