Karhi feuds with fellow Likud minister’s son over plans to close 3 radio stations

Communications minister hits out at Yair Katz, who suggests Karhi is seeking ‘revenge against Kan’s employees… because they don’t cheer you on enough’

(L) Yair Katz and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi. (Collage/Flash90)
(L) Yair Katz and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi. (Collage/Flash90)

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi on Friday tore into the son of another Likud minister for expressing opposition to his plans to shutter three of the Kan public broadcaster’s radio stations.

“He opposes the judicial reform and he opposes [my efforts to] reform the media market,” tweeted Karhi about Yair Katz, the Israel Aerospace Industries workers’ union chairman. Katz is the son of Tourism Minister Haim Katz, a major Likud powerbroker.

“But the big question, who asked him for his opinion anyway?” Karhi charged before directing his comments at “Katz junior.”

“Your father has plans for you in Likud. It would be a shame for you to ruin them,” the communications minister added.

Karhi’s post included a screen capture of an article about Katz’s criticism of the communication minister’s efforts. “Those who want to care for workers don’t shutter entire radio stations and throw their employees onto the street. This is not a reform. It’s a dissolution. We will continue to lift the voices of workers,” Katz tweeted on Thursday.

Responding to Karhi’s criticism, Katz tweeted, “Mr. Minister, drink a glass of water!”

Actors, filmmakers, executives, and celebrities attend a demonstration against the government’s plans to shut down public broadcaster KAN, in Tel Aviv on January 25, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The younger Katz insisted that he supports the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary, after earlier this week calling on the government to heed President Isaac Herzog’s call to engage in a dialogue with the opposition, rather than rushing the proposals without broad consensus.

Katz dismissed Karhi’s claim that he is motivated by a desire to become the next chairman of the Histadtrut labor federation. He added: “I still think that exacting revenge against Kan’s employees under the guise of ‘reform’ simply because they don’t cheer you on enough is the real problem.”

“Although we won the elections in a democratic manner and must be allowed to govern, this does not mean that significant parts of the nation should walk around feeling that they have lost their country,” he said.

Karhi on Thursday reportedly called in the Kan radio leadership for a meeting to discuss closing three of its stations so that they could be opened up to private competition. Karhi and some other Likud activists such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair have long argued that the government should not be funding the station, claiming that it is biased against the party. It makes similar claims against the broader media landscape as well.

Karhi had initially sought to shutter the Kan public broadcaster but was reportedly forced to backtrack from the plan earlier this month amid widespread pushback.

A decision was made at a meeting of coalition heads to try and limit the number of public battles it faces so that it can give full priority to its main effort of significantly weakening the power of the High Court of Justice.

Thousands protest against the judicial overhaul outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on February 13, 2023 (Courtesy Arie Leib Abrams/FLASH90)

Karhi’s plan to close down public broadcasting has also drawn opposition and protests, including from some of the country’s most-loved public figures.

The coalition leaders’ decision also includes suspending Karhi’s plan to reduce Kan’s budget by hundreds of millions of shekels. It is in force “until further notice,” Channel 12 said at the time.

Kan hit the airwaves in 2017 after a long legislative battle to shut down and replace its predecessor, the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

At the time, then-prime minister Netanyahu — who also served for years as communications minister — strongly opposed the creation of Kan, reportedly claiming it was too left-wing and too difficult to control. Internal disagreement on the matter almost brought down his coalition in 2017.

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