October 20, 2003
There are a multitude of subjects to write about: Three soldiers shot down in cold blood last night; tens of thousands visiting Hebron during the Succot holidays; the “Geneva Accords.” But today I think there is one subject which tops the list.
Yesterday the Israeli cabinet, voting 11 to 5, refused to append a suggested law outlawing all advertising on so-called ‘pirate radio stations,’ including Arutz 7. Lawbreakers could be fined up to one hundred thousand shekels and/or jailed for one year.
Early this afternoon a Jerusalem Magistrate Court convicted directors and broadcasters of the Arutz 7 radio station of illegal broadcasting. Among those convicted were Rabbi Zalman Melamed and his wife, Rebbetzion Shulamit Melamed, Ya’akov Katz, better known as Ketzele, Yoel Tzur (who lost his wife and son, both of whom were murdered by terrorists almost three years ago), and internationally renowned film-maker and Arutz 7 broadcaster, Adir Zik. They could receive a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a three million shekel fine.
It is written in the Talmud that a sage, resuscitated after having been ‘clinically dead’ was asked what he had seen ‘there.’ His response, speaking about viewing this world from the next world: “An upside-down world.” My friends, things have not changed in two thousand years. Our world is still upside down. But not only. It is also convoluted, warped and twisted.
Perhaps my generalization is not fair. So I will limit my definition, not to the entire world, rather only to the State of Israel. Oh, upside-down it is!
For the past ten years – no, since 1948, but more recently, since the middle of the 1980s, Israel has been involved in a ‘hot war’ for survival. The last decade, the “Oslo Era” has witnessed the deaths of over 1,100 Israelis. The past three years, the beginning of the Oslo War, has seen almost nine hundred victims. During this time the only reliable media outlet, the only radio station which broadcast the total, uncensored, truth, was Arutz 7. Virtually all of Israel’s political leadership, including many left-wing politicians, voiced their opinions on this station. When Kol Yisrael – the mislabeled “Voice of Israel,” actually Kol-Smol Yisrael, “The Left Voice of Israel” was using every technique possible to batter Bibi Netanyahu during the 1996 elections, Arutz 7 stood to Netanyahu’s right, offering an alternative to the vile left-wing propaganda. So too during Ariel Sharon’s campaign. All people who access the Arutz 7 internet site or receive their daily email news updates know and understand the vital importance of Arutz 7 in getting the truth out, around the world – in multiple languages. This, despite numerous attempts by the left to prevent broadcasts and to close down the station.
Today, temporarily, they have succeeded. Arutz 7’s management has decided to stop all radio broadcasts, from five o’clock this afternoon. However, internet broadcasts will continue.
It is virtually impossible to comprehend what is happening in Israel. For the past ten years Israeli leadership has negotiated with terrorist killers, meeting and shaking hands with them in Jerusalem. Israel has abandoned major portions of the heart of our land to terrorists, leading to killing after killing. Israel, negotiating with Hizballah, is on the verge of releasing over a thousand terrorists for the release of an alleged Israeli criminal and the bodies of three murdered soldiers. In response to American pressure Israel is still ‘easing up’ on the ‘innocent palestinian population.’ The list goes on and on.
Of course, the heart of the problem I have yet to mention. That is, freedom of speech – the right to freedom of expression. Yesterday I visited one of my wife’s uncles in Jerusalem. Way back in pre-state Israel, Uncle Meir was a member of the Etzel – the right-wing Jewish underground working to expel the British from Eretz Yisrael. He told me that later, after the founding of the state, when a Teudat Zehut – an identity card was issued to all Israeli citizens, all members of the right-wing underground movements received numbers beginning with 19. This was used to identify all ‘opponents’ of the state, i.e., the left, in order to badger them and prevent them from reaching any position of power within Israel. Fifty four years later, things haven’t changed. Voicing opinions that directly oppose those of the ruling junta just cannot be allowed. Even at the cost of freedom of speech.
Unprecedented legal maneuvering has prevented the legalization of Arutz 7. Israeli law forbids private radio stations from broadcasting. A law attempting to resolve problems dealing with Arutz 7 and other religious radio stations was struck down by the Supreme Court. Despite the huge costs involved, Arutz 7 broadcast from a ship located outside the legal territorial borders of Israel. However, after a five year trial, a court today ruled that the station is illegal.
For fifteen years Arutz 7 has been the voice of sanity in Israel. Their broadcasts have included Torah, current events and love of Eretz Yisrael. This is, undoubtedly, the reason why the government and the left have worked so hard to bring it down. It won’t surprise me if soon, the Knesset passes a bill outlawing love of Eretz Yisrael. For anyone who cherishes this land is at odds with the government, which still believes that dividing the land is the solution to all our problems.
It is clear that the tremendous opposition to Arutz 7’s continued existence is due to the immense support the station has around the world, and also, to its magnificent success. Had Arutz 7 been a small, inconsequential radio station, no one would have lifted a hand against it. The fact that Arutz 7 is so influential attests to the attempts made to shut it down. I hope and pray that public uproar, in Israel and around the world will reach such proportions that will force the reopening of the station.
Arutz 7 is the Israeli voice of sanity. The repression of Arutz 7 can only be described as total insanity. Sanity will win out.