Israel Radio ad: Attend Kahane memorial ceremony
Radio station flooded with complaints after airing ad in which MK Ben-Ari calls on public to attend service marking 19 years since far-right leader's assassination. Peace Now: Message political and controversial. Following complaints, Broadcasting Authority withdraws ad
Israel Radio's Reshet Bet station on Tuesday aired an announcement in which Knesset Member Michael Ben Ari (National Union) called on the public to attend a memorial service for Rabbi Meir Kahane, a far-right leader who was assassinated in New York in November 1990.
The radio station was flooded with complaints from listeners. Following the Ynet report and the angry complaints, Israel Radio decided to withdraw the ad.
The Israel Broadcasting Authority said Director-General Mordechai Shklar decided to withdraw the ad for fear that MK Michael Ben Ari was interested in "re-sparking a public discourse on the idea of Rabbi Kahane, the founder of Kach, which acted under the banner of expelling Israel's Arabs and which was outlawed, particularly in light of what happened during last year's memorial."
The IBA quoted a High Court ruling which had stated that the authorities "must interpret in a limited manner any access given to political issues in commercial ads, by examining it cautiously."
Rahamim Cohen, a lawyer hired by the Kahane family, said he would petition the High Court on the matter. "This is a case of impudence, discrimination and persecution, and surrender to the extreme Left's dictations and an attempt to damage Rabbi Kahane's memory," he said.
Extreme right-wing activist Baruch Marzel said that "19 years after Rabbi Kahane's murder, people are still afraid of him because if has been proved that he was right. once against it has been proved that the extreme left runs the Broadcasting Authority."
He said he planned to appeal to the IBA not to broadcast ads calling on the public to attend memorial services for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. "I plan to reach the High Court with this. A law is a law and equality is equality."
'This man did everything for Israel'
Kahane founded both the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in the US and Israeli political party Kach, which was declared a racist party by the Israeli government in 1988 and was banned from the Knesset.
In the announcement, MK Ben-Ari says, "To mark the 19th anniversary of Rabbi Meir Kahane's murder, I would like to invite you to attend the family's main memorial service, which will be held on Thursday."
Speaking to Ynet, Ben-Ari said, "I was approached by the family, and the ad was paid for. I was asked to take part in the recording of an announcement calling on the public to attend a ceremony marking the murder of an Israeli martyr.
"True, his doctrine was controversial, but this man did everything for Israel and its security. He was never convicted of any crime and never stayed at fancy hotels," said the rightist parliamentarian, referring to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' report of extravagant expenses during a Defense Ministry trip to the last Paris Air Exposition.
Peace Now also demanded that Israel Radio refrain from rebroadcasting the announcement. "The message is political and controversial," the organization said.
Earlier Tuesday, an Israel Radio source said, "We've aired similar ads in the past, and even if we don't agree with it - it is still legal," but a senior Israel Radio employee said that the matter was being examined "thoroughly" as it may be offensive to certain segments of the population.
Daniel Edelson contributed to this report