Israeli media is not reporting on the protests against him, but taking part in them, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said as he launched several attacks on the country’s press, which he insisted was acting “North Korea-style.”
The demonstrations, which have been underway for months in Israel, are “being fueled especially by the media who have enlisted themselves [to the protests] in a manner the like of which I can’t remember,” Netanyahu said following a cabinet meeting on Sunday.
They are not reporting on the protests, but participating in them, and fueling them.
The journalists completely neglect the violence on the part of the demonstrators, he argued, referring to a police officer, who was recently seriously injured and required surgery. “Daily calls to murder the prime minister and his family” are also being ignored, the PM added.
“There has never been such a distorted mobilization” of the media in the country, he said. “I would have said Soviet, but it’s already North Korean in manner.”
Netanyahu also used Facebook to slam the “one-sided” press, posting a comic which blamed the country’s Channels 12 and 13 of pouring garbage into the heads of their viewers.
In the comment with the picture, he labeled the broadcasters “a propaganda arm for the anarchistic left-wing protests,” trying to “brainwash the public” in order to overthrow him, “a strong rightist prime minister.”
“North Korean television can learn from them,” he wrote, but expressed confidence that the Israeli people weren’t falling for those insinuations.
The relations of Netanyahu and his family with the two broadcasters have been rocky recently. A few weeks ago, Channel 13 fired dozens of its staff members, including prominent journalists, who have been critical of the PM. One of the sacked reporters, Nir Becher, insisted that it was a “targeted liquidation… in the spirit of Balfour,” referring to Balfour Street where Netanyahu’s official residence is located. His colleague, Avi Amit, also said the decision came from “someone high up.” Channel 13 explained that the staff cuts were made for financial reasons.
In early July, the prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, was forced to apologize before Channel 12 host Dana Weiss after a tweet accusing her of “bribe-like relations” with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and questioning her qualifications as a journalist. The apology was retweeted by his father.
Meanwhile, around 10,000 Israeli people protested outside Netanyahu’s official residence on Saturday, demanding his immediate resignation. Twelve people were arrested as police intervened.
The demonstrators say the PM, who has been in the job since 2009, must go due to being corrupt and the country’s failing response to the coronavirus.
Netanyahu was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of public trust in several cases last November – ironically, some of them linked to making deals with media owners for less critical coverage. The man vigorously denies the accusations.
Public anger is also being fueled by a strict coronavirus lockdown introduced by the Israeli government, which caused an unemployment surge in the country – while the abrupt lifting of restrictions in May led to a spike in Covid-19 cases. Many people were also left without the financial aid promised by the PM.
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