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Netanyahu threatens new TV station for Palestinian citizens of Israel

The new satellite station, ‘Palestine 48,’ aimed at Arab citizens of Israel, presents an opportunity to use the community as a bridge between Israel and Palestine, a member of its board says.

The ‘Palestine 48’ morning show, broadcast from Nazareth. (From ‘Palestine 48’ Facebook page)

The ‘Palestine 48’ morning show, broadcast from Nazareth. (From ‘Palestine 48’ Facebook page)

Israeli Communications Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday declared his intention to shut down a brand new television station, “Palestine 48.” A day later, its employees and management vowed that they would not fold so easily. The station began pilot broadcasts on Thursday morning from Nazareth, and for the time being, its launch schedule is proceeding as scheduled.

Israeli authorities — and the Netanyahu government in particular — have been targeting Arab cultural institutions in recent weeks, cutting off funding for an Arabic-language theater in Haifa and threatening to do the same to a children’s theater in Jaffa operated by an Arab actor.

According to Sanaa Hammoud, a member of Palestine 48’s advisory board, the Netanyahu government is in the midst of a campaign to silence and exclude 20 percent of Israel’s citizens, ultimately de-legitimizing their citizenship itself.

But in addition to the principled issue, Hammoud warned, the government’s campaign endangers the constitutionally protected freedoms of occupation and expression. (While Israel does not have a constitution, it has “basic laws,” which have constitutional standing.)

“If anybody is violating the law,” Hammoud added, “it is not us — it’s Netanyahu.”

A promotional advertisement for Palestine 48:

Palestine 48 is a niche television station aimed at Palestinian citizens of Israel (inside ’48 borders, hence its name), operated by the Palestinian Broadcast Authority. The station describes itself as a family station that covers news, society, culture, art and more, with an emphasis on happenings in Arab society in Israel.

Palestine 48 started broadcasting from Nazareth on Thursday. It has limited programming planned for he month of Ramadan, known for high ratings for television in the Arab world, after which it plans to expand its offerings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered the director-general of the Communications Ministry to examine all penal and administrative tools at his disposal in order to shut down the station’s broadcasts. Netanyahu, who is also the communications minister, took particular issue with the Palestinian Authority funding.

Palestine 48’s programming is being filmed in Nazareth and in other locations inside Israel, but not in fixed studios — only with mobile broadcast units. The programs are beamed directly to the Palestinian Authority’s broadcast authority’s studios in Ramallah, and from there, it is broadcast by satellite and Internet via Egypt’s “Nile-Sat.”

Because of the way it is designed and broadcasts, Palestine 48 claims, the station is not violating Israeli law. The only way to stop the broadcasts, technically speaking, would be if Israel raided and shut down the entire Palestinian Authority television apparatus in Ramallah.

The Israeli army does raid Palestinianand even foreign — media outlets in Ramallah from time to time. In East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities even raided a Palestinian television studio mid-broadcast, detaining two journalists and a producer.

Sanaa Hammoud (left), and Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan (center) at a press conference for the launch of Palestine 48. (Courtesy photo)

Sanaa Hammoud (left), and Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan (center) at a press conference for the launch of Palestine 48. (Courtesy photo)

“Netanyahu’s declaration harms 20 percent of the country’s citizens,” says Hammoud, who previously worked as commentator on Israel’s Channel 2, worked as a producer for CNN and Al Jazeera, as a reporter for Al Arabiya, and who still works as a media consultant.

“I think that the [Israeli] government should actually welcome this progress by Palestinian television, which fills a void created over seven decades in which Israeli governments haven’t done what was expected of them, failing to create a platform for internal discourse and dialogue,” she added.

“Until the day arrives when there is such a platform,” Hammoud continued, “they are trying to harm [us] as part of the campaign to silence the Arab public.”

Because there is no legal basis for shutting down the station, she argues, it is the Netanyahu government itself that will ultimately be harmed by going after Palestine 48.

“It will lead to increased isolation in the international arena — surely human rights advocates around the world will view the harassment of a legitimate television station in a negative light,” Hammoud said.

Asked whether it is legitimate for the Israeli government to view the station as an attempt by the Palestinian Authority to challenge Israel’s sovereignty over its citizens, Hammoud pointed to the constitutionally protected freedom of occupation.

“Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation permits us to work inside Israel with any international body, including the Palestinian Authority, as long as we are not inciting, inciting rebellion, defaming or harming state security,” Hammoud said. “We have no intention of doing any of those things.”

The Palestinian broadcast authorities gave Palestine 48 written assurances that there would be no editorial intervention of any sort, she said. Editorial independence with the freedom criticize and plan coverage was one of the advisory board’s demands, Hammoud added.

As a project run by Palestinian citizens of Israel, Hammoud believes Palestine 48 presents a rare opportunity, “one that wasn’t realized in the Oslo era, to view [Palestinian citizens of Israel] as a party that understands both cultures, both mentalities — to not just be part of the problem but to be an active part of the solution.”

The Prime Minister’s Office responded that the matter falls under the purview of the Communications Ministry. The Communications Ministry responded only by saying that, “the matter is under examination by the relevant authorities.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Jello

      The Palestinian Authority has decided to launch a propaganda channel within Israel operated by the Palestinian Broadcast Authority. There is no particularly good reason to allow the Palestinian Authority to film and broadcast its propaganda from within Israel. The reason why this channel is being created is so that the Palestinian Authority can directly target Israeli Arabs for brainwashing in the same way it does to its own citizens. The desired result of such an effort is to incite against Israel and to cause Israeli Arab citizens to hate Jews, hate Israel and to carry out violent acts against their fellow Jewish citizens. The station should be shut down at the earliest possible opportunity before it has a chance to poison its viewers with hatred for Israel and Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      Here is a simple question. Does the station have a broadcast license? If not shut it down.

      I doubt that Israel would ever grant a broadcast license to an enemy state to broadcast its propaganda into Israel even if it is produced by Arabs inside of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        But don’t you think this is similar to what totalitarian states do. It’s what China does. Doves, pigeons, babies in incubators, candles, games, sewing, tasty fish recipes? What are they afraid of? How afraid some are of free speech and open communication! God forbid we show them as real people. This is what I mean. Netanyahu is most hostile to the very moderates he claims to wish for. The world will look favorably on Netanyahu trying to shut down a gentle, non-inciting TV program? Like an East German communist? If Netanyahu will rail against “incitement” and yet at the same time try to shut down–rather than promote and applaud–non-inciting communications then I think he reveals in one stroke what he is really all about.

        Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          A propaganda channel being created by an enemy country with a rather nasty record on free speech and free thought to broadcast propaganda to your citizens doesn’t exactly qualify as a great testament to free speech.

          I sincerely doubt anyone is going to give two figs about whether this channel is allowed to operate in Israel. I certainly hope that it is not.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “One only needs to know _________.”

          Sounds like an excellent motto for the hasbara team. Excellent choice. You could have forms printed with a blank to fill in.

          I don’t think your definition of incitement is credible. Hmmmm. Let me think. No, no, it just won’t do.

          The truth is that Netanyahu is especially allergic to any signs of moderates getting their act together and it’s why you’re out in full force here scanning the horizon with military binoculars in camouflage gear for that dangerous threat of a TV show.

          Looks like more of that vaunted “Israeli rule of law”:

          “The Palestinians rule themselves in Area A! It’s great! What’s the problem?!”

          Except when they don’t actually rule themselves which is in truth all the time.

          Since when does Netanyahu have any business telling people in Ramallah that they can’t broadcast an incitement-free TV show? Is that like a Czarist decree?

          This is an interesting developing story that promises to be illuminating.*

          ________________
          *””Of course the main coverage will be on the conflict,” Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan told Channel 2 News. “That’s a matter of importance. But we don’t intend to make a political party out of it.”
          Palestine 48 is one of several PA channels that can be received by satellite in many Arab households. But this is the first channel that intends to deal directly with Israeli Arabs.

          The Communications Ministry supervises the activities of Yes and Hot, which operate under a state permit. However, satellite or internet broadcasts are unsupervised and the ministry cannot interfere with its broadcasts.

          Palestine 48 said in response that Netanyahu had tried to close down Channel 10, harass Yedioth Aharonot and Al Midan Theater. “Now he’s trying to close the Palestinian channel, which is supposed to go on the air tomorrow. The Bibi-Regev government’s military administration will collapse in the face of freedom of expression and creativity. The new channel’s crews are preparing for direct broadcast from Nazereth tomorrow and for going to court to prevent the harassment.”

          “So far the Palestinian television in Ramallah has received no notice of this. Hezbollah and Iran broadcast every day and haven’t been closed down. Instead of closing down channels Bibi should invest in developing Arab television industry in Israel,” the statement said.”

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            a). What this psychotic moron called Brian alias “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” alia “Giora Me’ir” alias etc. does not get is that in every country there are laws for broadcasting radio and TV channels. If you want to operate a TV channel, you apply for license. If you operate without license, you are a criminal breaking the law and will be sanctioned. So, we come back to the fundamental question raised by Pedro: Has the PA applied for a license to broadcast inside Israel? Is the PA allowed to operate a TV station in Seattle, WA, where Brian comes from, without license? Why does Brian think that different rules apply to Israel? Stupidity? Confusion? Blindness as a result of the hate in his heart? Or, all of the above?

            b). What Brian refuses to understand is that in Israel there is ALREADY an Israeli-Arab TV station https://ar-ar.facebook.com/pages/Hala-Tv/157575857650427 that is entirely devoted to serving the needs of the Arab population of Israel and that public TV channels are obliged to- and do devote part of their broadcasting to both Arabic, Russian and English speaking populations!

            c). Perhaps, what stand out the most in the rambling mumbo jumbo of this moron called Brian alias “Ben” alias etc., and shows how bankrupt, confused and messed-up his mind is, is this:

            “So far the Palestinian television in Ramallah has received no notice of this. Hezbollah and Iran broadcast every day and haven’t been closed down. Instead of closing down channels Bibi should invest in developing Arab television industry in Israel.”

            Somehow this psychotic moron did not realize and has not even realized that his own ‘copy-and-paste-job’ just SUMMARIZED and CONFIRMED everything Jello said in his first post? Oh dear….

            Reply to Comment
      • Liz

        You miss the point. It is not broadcasting from Israel.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Giora Me'ir

      It’s just his way of keeping the “Arab hordes” down. As second class citizens.

      Reply to Comment
    4. BigCat

      Jello
      Friday
      June 19, 2015

      “The Palestinian Authority has decided to launch a propaganda channel within Israel operated by the Palestinian Broadcast Authority. There is no particularly good reason to allow the Palestinian Authority to film and broadcast its propaganda from within Israel. The reason why this channel is being created is so that the Palestinian Authority can directly target Israeli Arabs for brainwashing in the same way it does to its own citizens. The desired result of such an effort is to incite against Israel and to cause Israeli Arab citizens to hate Jews, hate Israel and to carry out violent acts against their fellow Jewish citizens. The station should be shut down at the earliest possible opportunity before it has a chance to poison its viewers with hatred for Israel and Jews.”

      Got that, Brian alias “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” alias “Giora Me’ir” alias “E823”, etc?!

      Now, Brian, if Israeli-Arabs are “Arab hordes” and “second class citizens” as YOU call them, I guess the best way to turn them into “first class citizens” is to have the PA do the stuff Jello described above? Reasonable folks disagree with you. But of course, we know that it never really is about Palestinians in your inane world. All you need to do is to hear the words “Jews” and/or “Israel” and you get all riled-up and emotional, blurting out some incomprehensible mumbo jumbo. Go get a life, Benny, then start focusing on the problem of your own country which are more in both quantity and quality than Israel’s and stop obsessing about Israel and Jews and abusing Jewish names, you psychotic moron!

      Reply to Comment
    5. BigCat

      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196993#.VYQ86tLtmko

      ‘Palestinian man asked for water, then shot his Jewish victims at point-blank range when they stopped to help’. This is exemplary of the relationship between Israelis and Arabs. This the relationship unemployed foreigners who come here rambling about “human rights” refuse to understand, as long as the victims are Jews. But they wail and mourn for what they call “Palestinian olive trees” that were allegedly vandalized by Jews!

      Reply to Comment