Creator of ‘Jerusalem District’ begs for forgiveness over gun-planting episode

Creator of ‘Jerusalem District’ begs for forgiveness over gun-planting episode

Koda Communications founder Ram Landes says his company ‘got carried away’ when producing the reality cop show

The logo for Kan docudrama TV series 'Jerusalem District.' (Screenshot: YouTube)
The logo for Kan docudrama TV series 'Jerusalem District.' (Screenshot: YouTube)

The owner of a production company involved in planting a gun in an East Jerusalem man’s home during the filming of a police docudrama apologized and begged for forgiveness in a Facebook post on Sunday, saying that his team had gotten “carried away.”

Ram Landes, the co-owner and founder of Koda Communications, wrote that he took responsibility for the incident in which police put a rifle in the home of Samer Sleiman, a resident of the neighborhood of Issawiya, to make it appear as though they had found the weapon there.

“I am writing these words after days of fasting, self-affliction and agonizing introspection and against the advice of all lawyers and media advisers,” he wrote.

“What actually happened?” he asked. “I think we fell in love. We fell in love with a group of women and men — humane, sensitive and tough — who do so much and earn so little [to ensure] our safety without receiving any public sympathy. We wanted to tell their story in the most powerful and exciting way. We got carried away.”

Ram Landes (YouTube screenshot)

“Right now it’s time to say just one word: Sorry!”

On Thursday, Kan said that it would no longer work with Landes’s company. In an angry statement, the public broadcaster accused production staff of misleading the public and incriminating the innocent.

“Everything that happened in this affair contradicts the essence of the public broadcaster and its basic values,” Kan said, describing the move as “contemptible.”

“It is a betrayal of the public trust and the trust in the Israeli public broadcaster,” it said. “There is no room and zero tolerance in the corporation for lies to the public and incriminating innocent people.”

Kan said it viewed the incident “gravely” and that it ran against the ethics agreement it had signed with Koda.

Samer Sleiman, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, arrives at the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department in Jerusalem on August 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

As of Wednesday evening, all of the episodes of “Jerusalem District” were no longer available on Kan’s website or YouTube channel. Reruns of the show will no longer be aired on Kan and the series will no longer be accessible on demand.

The decision to take down the episodes came as Koda said it was looking into three more of the series’ 145 scenes in which the uncovering of evidence appeared to have been staged.

Last week, Sleiman said he received a threatening call from a man he understood to be a police officer warning him not to speak to the media about the incident.

Sleiman, who is suing the police, has complained that after the ninth episode was aired on June 23, neighbors and friends recognized his voice and house despite his face being blurred. He said he is now afraid that some will think he is a criminal or suspect him of cooperating with Israeli authorities since he hasn’t been charged or even questioned over the gun ostensibly found in his home.

Police have apologized “for any harm caused to the civilian as a result of the segment’s airing” and added that the case was being probed and that conclusions would be drawn as necessary.

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