Army Radio has decided to suspend commentator Irit Linur after she let loose with a rant against President Reuven Rivlin for appearing to support anti-government corruption protests on Tuesday.
In her tirade, Linur called Rivlin a failed politician.
“The only thing you’ve been able to do serve as a junior minister, and as a president and national symbol, you call on citizens to go out into the street? You insolent piece of work! Who do you think you are?” she said on the radio Tuesday.
“Irit Linur’s comments on the president were not fitting, nor the way they were expressed,” the station said in a statement.
Linur will be off the air for seven days.
On Tuesday, the president praised public protests against alleged government corruption that have taken place weekly, saying they were an important outgrowth of online activism.
But Rivlin on Wednesday said his reported support for a slew of anti-corruption demonstrations targeting the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taken out of context.
“To remove any doubt, I will say as clearly as possible, I never called on anyone, nor would I consider calling on any Israeli citizens to join in this, or any other, protest,” he said in a statement. “It is inconceivable. I only regret that at this sensitive time my words were taken out of context in order to add fuel to the fire.”
Speaking at the Dov Lautman Conference on Education Policy on Tuesday, Rivlin had hailed social networks for mobilizing the masses, including 2011 mass demonstrations against the rising cost of living; gatherings in recent months protesting alleged stalling by law enforcement in corruption allegations against Netanyahu; and the more recent #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.
“The [online] social networks are really great, a wonderful thing, they raise awareness and tell what is going on around us,” Rivlin said, according to a report by Channel 10.
“We have some wonderful examples of the influence of the social networks on reality: the protests of the summer 2011, demonstrations for and against [the social justice movement]; the demonstrations for and against in the recent months that went from the square in Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv and from there to other squares; [and the] MeToo campaign,” he said.
“Take note that all of the examples that moved from words to actions, went from the screen and took hold in the real world,” Rivlin added “There is no replacement for the real, physical city squares. We need to raise a generation that will remember that real democracy can perhaps begin on the web, but will never replace the need and the necessity of taking a real part in decisions, in debates, and in social action.”
Months of demonstrations by hundreds of protesters outside the Petah Tivah home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit have swelled to demonstrations by thousands on four consecutive Saturday nights in Tel Aviv against government corruption. A right-wing protest against corruption in Jerusalem drew several hundred protesters on Saturday night.
At the most recent Tel Aviv event, held last Saturday night, one protester caused outrage by parading with a cardboard guillotine. That sign was condemned by Rivlin as “incitement.”