The Kan public broadcasting corporation on Thursday suspended one of its anchors because he appeared in a video with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the suspension then drawing fire from the premier and his right-wing allies.
News presenter Erel Segal was suspended, pending further notice, after the video was uploaded to Netanyahu’s Twitter account earlier Thursday.
In the video, Netanyahu, Segal and prominent right-wing journalists Yinon Magal and Shimon Riklin sing the song “Praise, O Jerusalem” by Israeli composer Avihu Medina. The three journalists have in the past posted videos of themselves singing together, though without the prime minister.
Kan’s news division said in a statement: “The video clip appears to constitute a violation of Kan’s ethics rules, which forbid participating in election propaganda. Segal is suspended until the matter is clarified.”
Segal declined to comment, according to Channel 12.
שבחי ירושלים ❤️ pic.twitter.com/YRyCyw7Y5x
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 13, 2020
Kan’s legal counsel, Marissa Zogman, informed employees that participating in such a video ahead of elections was a violation of Kan’s ethics code.
Netanyahu blasted the move at a campaign event Thursday night in Or Yehuda, calling it “a joke,” and “shameful.”
“So one of these singers, Erel Segal, was suspended from Kan — such a shame,” Netanyahu said. “At Kan they never show any sympathy, on the left they don’t have that.”
“They came to me with guitars… and we broke into a song I really love,” he said.
Right-wing politicians called the suspension of Segal hypocritical, claiming that media personalities often supported a left-wing agenda, without any repercussions.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the hard-line right-wing Yamina party, termed the punishment “outrageous.”
“A public broadcasting corporation, funded by our taxes, suspends a right-wing media person over nothing,” Bennett said.
Communications Minister David Amsalem of Likud accused Kan of campaigning against Netanyahu, and said he would “require explanations from the head of the corporation, which for a long time has proven that it is guided by a specific agenda.”
Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked called the move “delusional,” saying that for “years the media has delivered the same one-dimensional messages.”
“Then a right wing journalist sings ‘Praise, O Jerusalem’ with the prime minister — and he’s immediately suspended from his job. Shameful,” Shaked said.
Netanyahu has made the media a frequent target, dismissing individual journalists and networks as biased and untrustworthy and denouncing critical stories about him as “fake news.”
Israel goes to the polls for the third time in less than a year on March 2, with the two previous elections having failed to yield a majority coalition.