Israeli TV host jeered for claiming French hiding Islamist arson at Notre Dame

Avri Gilad called out for peddling ‘unequivocally untrue’ conspiracy theories on Channel 13 morning show

Israeli television and radio personality Avri Gilad. February 2 2011. (Oren Nahshon/Flash 90/File)
Israeli television and radio personality Avri Gilad. February 2 2011. (Oren Nahshon/Flash 90/File)

An Israeli television personality on Monday linked the Sri Lanka terror attacks to Paris’s Notre Dame fire, claiming the iconic cathedral was deliberately set ablaze by Islamists and alleging that French investigators were “lying” about the cause.

Addressing the wave of bombings in Sri Lanka that killed nearly 300 people, Avri Gilad claimed on his Channel 13 morning show, “HaOlam HaBoker,” on Monday: “We see Muslim pressure on Christians around the world, [including] a wave of church fires in France.”

He was interrupted by reporter Emmanuelle Elbaz-Phelps, a dual Israeli-French citizen, who noted French investigators have found no evidence of foul play in last week’s blaze that ravaged Notre Dame.

French police believe the fire was likely started by an electrical short circuit at the site, which had been undergoing restoration.

The altar surrounded by charred debris inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral. (LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

“They’re liars,” said Gilad.

“The French. All the Europeans are liars,” he continued.”They deny cases of rape. You cannot publicize anything. Anything that can be interpreted as a hate crime is swept under the rug.”

“That is unequivocally untrue,” replied Elbaz-Phelps. “Right now there is an investigation into Notre Dame that says there is no reason to think it’s terror-related.”

“I don’t believe a single word they say,” said Gilad. “They’re scared of their own shadow and are even more afraid of Muslims.”

Conspiracy theories following the fire, which gutted the 12th century cathedral and elicited an outpouring of support from across the world, had alleged that the fire was the work of Islamists and tied to Holy Week ahead of Easter.

Gilad’s comments were widely criticized on social media, including by fellow Channel 13 journalists.

“Much respect to the awesome Emmanuelle Elbaz-Phelps who was not silent in the face of the lies and conspiracy theories spread on the morning show of Reshet TV and who put things right,” tweeted the network’s Barak Ravid.

Gilad courted controversy in 2017, when he backed a group of settlers involved in a clash that left a Palestinian dead, saying on air that “sometimes there is no choice but a show of presence, even violent presence.”

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