Who's Afraid of Channel 7?: Ideological Radio and Freedom of Speech in Israel
19 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 20, 2002
In 1988, several prominent Israeli settlers initiated the creation of a new radio station. Called Arutz Sheva (Channel 7), the unlicensed station was broadcast from a ship outside Israel’s territorial waters. Channel 7 reflected a staunch, nationalistic ideology. It was created, according to its founders, “to provide half of the [Israeli] people with a reliable media that will accurately reflect their opinion.”
The story of Channel 7 is quite perplexing. Since Channel 7 obviously appeals to a significant segment of Israeli society, a path to legalizing its operation should not have been hard to find. However, this has not happened. This article attempts to account for the Channel 7 phenomenon. We argue that the existence of Channel 7 challenges an ethos deeply engrained within the Israeli broadcasting media, as well as other civic institutions. This ethos, originating in the Zionist dream of creating a cohesive national identity, is that there is a basic set of values and goals unifying Israeli society. Accordingly, despite substantial disagreements among different segments of that society, one public platform accommodating all sectors and advancing the goals common to all of them can, and indeed must, be found. Since their inception, the state-owned broadcasting media has worked under the assumption that they provide such a platform. Channel 7 constitutes a direct challenge to that assumption; its raison d’être is based on the claim that the state-owned media do not represent the essential common values of Israeli society.
Keywords: Media, Free Speech, Israel Broadcasting Authority, Radio, Journalism
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation