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Rightist outlet backtracks after report exults in death of ‘terror supporter’ MK

Channel 20 deletes article on the passing of Ra’am’s Said al-Harumi that opened with Bible verse rejoicing in death of ‘the wicked,’ says writer acted without consulting

Illustrative: A live broadcast by Channel 20, at Habima square in Tel Aviv on November 25, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative: A live broadcast by Channel 20, at Habima square in Tel Aviv on November 25, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The right-wing Channel 20 on Wednesday apologized after an online report lauded the death of Ra’am MK Said al-Harumi and labeled him a “terror supporter.”

In a front page article on the network’s website, an underline stated: “MK Said al-Harumi, the terror supporter from the Ra’am faction, died from a heart attack at Soroka hospital.”

The article opened with a biblical verse from the Book of Proverbs, which loosely translates to: “When the wicked perish, rejoice.” It said al-Harumi “was known for his extremist remarks and support of terrorists.”

Following major backlash online, the network removed the article and issued an apology.

“Channel 20 wishes to clarify that the article regarding the tragic death of MK Said al-Harumi was the opinion of the author, and his alone, and the network strongly disapproves of the wording,” it stated.

The outlet added that it sends condolences to the family.

Lawmaker Said al-Harumi pauses during an interview at his office at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on Monday, June 28, 2021.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

An Israeli organization representing Arabs and Palestinians in the media said the network had crossed a red line with its article, and submitted a complaint to the commercial television and radio authority.

“Channel 20 this morning crossed all the ethical and professional red lines in the field of journalism,” the Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research, I’lam, said.

“It is time to examine the continuation of Channel 20’s broadcasts, in light of the repeated violations of the rules of journalistic ethics.”

In May, a reporter for the network lamented on air the lack of casualties in a rocket attack from Lebanon that struck a northern Arab Israeli town. He later claimed he had misspoken, but was fired.

The Front for the Protection of Democracy, a left-wing group, also submitted a complaint to the commercial media authority.

“Labeling the chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee a ‘terror supporter’ and the use of the verse ‘When the wicked perish, rejoice’ is wild racist incitement, desecration of the dead, and causes harm to his family and community,” the Front said.

The openly right-wing Channel 20 began broadcasting in August 2014 focusing on Jewish tradition with a conservative bent, but gradually switched its focus to right-wing and conservative news and commentary programs.

Sometimes referred to as Israel’s Fox News for its right-of-center programming and claim to offer a counterbalance to the “left-wing mainstream media,” the channel received permission to broadcast its own news programs in December 2016.

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