Reporter Fired Over Shalit Letter Appeals to Keep Job

Channel 2 correspondent filed an urgent petition on Monday requesting the Labor Court order the news company to reinstate him in his job and to rescind his dismissal, which will come into effect on November 27.

Shafi was fired after it was discovered that he withheld information about kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit from the channel in order to save it for a book he was planning on publishing on the matter.

The book, which has been published by Yediot Books, includes a previously unpublished letter the Shalit family received a few months after the abduction. A report about the letter was broadcast on Channel 10 and published in the mass circulation daily newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth. The day after the letter was published Shafi was suspended for 50 days and last week Channel 2 CEO Avi Weiss informed him of his dismissal.

According to Shafi, the day before the letter was published in rival media, he sent it to Weiss, who held it.

In the petition he filed at the Labor Court by means of attorneys Alon Diskin and Gideon Koren (Kneller), Shafi claims that his firing in the wake of the publication of the book "is indicative above all of the lack of internalization of the public responsibilities incumbent on a public organization and of a grudge toward an Arab reporter who published a book about Gilad Shalit."

He claims that "we are dealing with a method of intimidation against Arab reporters who are not 'cozy with the bosses' when there are reporters who have written books and whose jobs are intact."

He adds that "the position of a leading media organization in Israel that really acts to silence people is very odd."

According to Shafi, during his 16 years of work at Channel 2, no employment contract was ever signed with him and there is no provision restricting him from writing books.

"And even if there were such a restriction, it would be illegitimate and really disgraceful," he says.

He claims there has been "a flawed and wretched dismissal proceeding that is a direct result of personal harassment of a respected correspondent and (truly astounding) irrelevant considerations that amount to discrimination and conduct that is not disinterested."

The request to the court states that the decision to fire him was taken in unilaterally, without him having been informed of the complaints against him and without him having been given an opportunity to reply to them.

Shafi wrote that the court should condemn this dismissal, which is neither legal nor constitutional.

Channel 2 has responded that "we have not been contacted on this issue and in any case it is not our intention to discuss an employee's personal issues in the media."