Israel shuts peace radio station in attempt to silence criticism of right


 Israel Shuts Down Palestinian Peace Radio: Kol Hashalom Radio Closed Down in Palestine

The station was founded by Israeli and Palestinian peace groups seven years ago, and is called ‘Kol Hashalom’ which means ‘Whole Peace’. Its broadcast facility is in Ramallah, which is the base of the Palestinian Authority and considered to be under Palestinian Authority control according to the Oslo Agreement of 1993.

According to the Israeli Communications Ministry, “The Ministry carried out wireless supervisory activities in cooperation with Israel Police against a pirate radio station, just as it carries them out against all other illegal stations”.

The shutdown came after Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Member Danny Danon demanded that the station be shut down, appealing to the Israeli Attorney General and demanding immediate action against the station.

After a November 4th letter to the station claiming that its broadcast was illegal, the station’s management requested time to reply, saying that the station was fully licensed by the Palestinian Authority’s Communication Ministry and therefore not an illegal broadcast.

Israeli peace groups have recently come under fire from Israeli Knesset members, who have passed draconian measures limiting freedom of speech and limiting foreign funding for Israeli peace groups.

Mossi Raz, a former Israeli Knesset (Parliament) member and current station manager of the Kol Hashalom radio station said that the government’s actions are illegal, and plans to file an appeal against the shutdown of the radio station.

 Saturday, November 19 2011|Yossi Gurvitz


Kol Hashalom, which operates from Ramallah, was suddenly shut down on Thursday, based on what appears to be flimsy evidence

A small radio station, “Kol Hashalom,” unique in that it was directed jointly by a Palestinian and a Jew, was abruptly shut down by the Israeli police on Thursday.

Kol Hashalom, which roughly means “All for Peace,” had been active for the last seven years. It was a joint venture of the Palestinian NGO Biladi and the Israeli NGO Jewish-Arab Center for Peace, and was directed by former Meretz MK Mossi Raz and Meissa Bransie-Senyura. The station broadcast from Ramallah, under a license granted by the Palestinian Authority to the Biladi company. (Full disclosure: I participated as a co-host in a Kol Hashalom broadcasts about a year ago).

Naturally, the very idea of a Jewish-Palestinian radio was anathema to the Jewish right (can you seriously call it “Israeli” anymore, when its essence is the eradication of Israeli identity?).  So, in September, one of the leaders of the campaign for the destruction of Israeli democracy, Likud MK and Sarah Palin fan Danny Danon, demanded (Hebrew) that the station be shut down. Danon claimed the station was “inciting against Israel,” specifically that it was calling upon people “to reject political decisions arrived at democratically.” To wit, to support Palestinian statehood.

On November 4th, the Ministry of Communication sent a letter to Kol Hashalom, saying it is acting illegally and must close down immediately. The managers, having consulted their legal counsel, sent a letter last week denying all those claims. On Thursday, a day later – unheard-of speed for the Israeli police – Raz was summoned for a police interrogation, where he was informed that he was suspected of managing an illegal radio station, and that if he does not order it to shut down immediately, he would be arrested and the police would raid the station’s Jerusalem offices.

In a phone conversation with Raz today, he noted that a threat of detainment over the claim of running an illegal radio station is unprecedented. As far as I recall, in all of the years of the saga surrounding settler radio Channel 7, never were any of its managers arrested – even though its broadcasting interfered with the radio frequencies of the Ben Gurion Airport, and even though it never even claimed to be legal or  licensed.

Kol Hashalom, again, is based in Ramallah (the Jerusalem offices serve for its internet broadcast) and has a Palestinian license. Raz says the interrogators presented him with two arguments. One, that the station broadcasts in Hebrew, for a Hebrew-speaking public, which means it is an Israeli station which bypasses the law. Really? I guess the police don’t know that bypassing the law is, by definition, not breaking it. Raz, sarcastically, suggests the police should immediately arrest the anchors of the Persian Voice of Israel: According to the logic of the police, it is an Iranian radio station and the anchors are obviously Iranian spies.

Certain that the closing of the station is part of an assault on the media. Mossi Raz (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

Mossi Raz, who is sure that the closing of the station is part of an assault on the media. (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

The second argument of the police was dubbed by Raz as the “I’ve murdered my parents, have pity on an orphan” argument: They said that Israel has never granted the Palestinian Authority any frequencies, even though it was obligated to do so in the Oslo Accords. This argument suffers from two problems: Raz noted that the Accords grant the PA the right to grab their own frequencies if Israel doesn’t allocate them within a certain time frame. Secondly, and more importantly, this argument basically says that ALL Palestinians radio stations are, without exception, illegal – yet strangely enough the Israeli police only bother itself with the Jewish-Palestinian one. This can be seen as even more proof of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank: Israel claims the right to shut down a radio station licensed by the so-called autonomous PA.




Israel Shuts Down Israeli/Palestinian Peace Radio: Kol Hashalom Radio Closed Down in Palestine

From the Independent:

Israel has closed down a dovish Israeli-Palestinian radio station in what its backers say is a politically-motivated decision to silence criticism of the Jewish state.


The Communications Ministry ordered the Kol Hashalom station, or All for Peace, to shut down earlier this month for broadcasting into Israel illegally. But Danny Danon, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's hawkish Likud party, boasted that he had instigated an investigation into the station for alleged incitement against Israel.

The attack on the radio station, which has broadcast for seven years, raises fresh concerns about press freedoms at a time when many of Israel's liberals view the country's democracy as under threat from the right wing.

Israel claims that All for Peace, established by Palestinian and Israeli activists, is a pirate radio station operating without a licence, but the station has countered that it has a licence from the Palestinian Authority, and does not require permission from Israel. The station has offices in East Jerusalem, but broadcasts from Ramallah in the West Bank.

Managers of the station, unique for its willingness to talk to far-right Israelis as much as to militant Palestinians, have been in regular contact with the Communications Ministry over the past seven years, said the Jewish co-director Mossi Raz, who insists that he has never in that time been told to seek an Israeli licence.

"It is a political decision," said Mr Raz, a former politician with the left-wing party Meretz. "I am very concerned. There is no democracy here. People think that democracy is only the right to vote, but it's not only that. You cannot have democracy without freedom of the press." He added that he is preparing to challenge the decision in court.

Mr Danon, an outspoken right-wing politician who complained about the station to the Attorney General two months ago, claimed credit for the station's demise. "A radical leftist station that becomes an instrument of incitement must not be allowed to broadcast to the public," Mr Danon said.

He reportedly objected to presenters encouraging Palestinians to demonstrate in support of an independent state. Mr Raz, who was unsure if the station's presenters had made such a call, challenged the view that there was anything wrong with it. "Is this incitement?" he said.

The decision to close the station comes as Israeli journalists grapple with what they perceive as intensifying efforts by the government to muzzle criticism, both in the media and more widely through proposals to broaden the libel law, limit foreign funding of left-wing NGOs, and move control of Supreme Court appointments from an independent panel to parliament.