Communications Minister Ayoub Kara apologized Friday after appearing to suggest the death penalty for journalists who report “fake news.”
“I realize Twitter nation is up in arms, but you can calm down. I love the media and if I wasn’t understood properly I apologize,” tweeted Kara.
In a speech at a Likud event in Eilat, Kara said, “anyone who presents ‘fake news’ — will bring a death sentence upon himself.”
Kara’s remark came as he vowed to pursue deregulation in his role as communications minister and prevent the closure of Channel 20, a right-wing station faced with closure for violating the terms of its license, which puts limitations on its broadcasting of news and current affairs offerings.
Following social media pushback, Kara said his comment was misinterpreted.
“I meant that anyone who spreads ‘fake news’ is bringing upon himself a death sentence, people won’t see him on the remote,” said Kara.
“Those who know me, know how important freedom of expression is to me, how much I support reform and want openness in the media,” he added.
Kara, a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze minority, also said the remark came across as it did because he was speaking in Hebrew.
“What can I do? My native tongue is Arabic. Sometimes I need to quickly choose my words in Hebrew and sometimes make mistakes,” he said.
Since becoming communications minister last May, Kara has expressed support for shuttering Israel’s public broadcaster, known as Kan, which was caught up in coalition infighting last year regarding authority over its news devision.
Kara, as well as Netanyahu, have also called for closing Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel, accusing the Arabic satellite station of taking an anti-Israel stance in its reporting and encouraging violence against the Jewish state.