Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, is out to financially bankrupt or prosecute Haaretz, Israel’s oldest newspaper, that daily reported Nov. 23. The “crime” of the newspaper, published in both Hebrew and English, is that it continues to consistently cover and give voice to the opposition within Israel to Netanyahu and his coalition of racist, religious extremists, despite the war fever in the country.
Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken responded to Karhi’s proposal appropriately: “If the government wants to close Haaretz, that’s the time to read Haaretz.”
In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs, Communications Minister Karhi charged that since Haaretz is “sabotaging Israel in wartime” and is an “inflammatory mouthpiece for Israel’s enemies,” all government payments to the newspaper should be cancelled, whether for publication of official government notices, or for subscriptions held by state employees—including those held by members of the IDF, the police, the prison service, government ministries and government companies.
Writing that “Haaretz has taken an offensive line which undermines the war’s goals and disparages the military effort and its social fortitude,” Karhi threatens that criminal cases could be launched against the paper, and that “some of the paper’s publications even cross the criminal standard set in those far-flung sections of the penal code reserved for wartime only.” Karhi cites in his letter recently approved emergency regulations that allow the government to take action against foreign media outlets that harm the country, Haaretz reports. Under those regulations, the security cabinet recently authorized the blocking of the internet channel of a Lebanese television station, Al Mayadeen, in Israel, and asked the army to issue a closure order for its offices in the West Bank, it notes.