Likud minister says Channel 13 wants coalition shot; network decries ‘incitement’
Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan said Thursday that Channel 13 news wanted government ministers fired and said she was boycotting the network after one of its anchors criticized her on air.
The outbreak followed inflammatory statements from Distel Atbaryan on Tuesday in which she lashed out at the opposition at the appearance of drawing a distinction on how Sephardi and Ashekanzi Jews should talk about the Holocaust.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Channel 13 had a stopwatch counting down the time until one of us was released because that’s what they’re aiming for,” Distel Atbaryan said in an interview with pro-biased Channel 14 right the comments after tearing into Channel 13 anchor Hila Korach, who criticized the minister the day before regarding the Holocaust comments.
Channel 13 said in response to Distel Atbaryan’s tirade, “This is a great incitement against the media in Israel and must be condemned.”
Ending the controversy, Distel Atbaryan gave a fiery speech in the Knesset on Wednesday against comparisons, apparently drawn by some of her detractors, between Likud leaders, allegedly including herself, and Nazis.
“They call me the propaganda minister — Goebbels here, Goebbels there,” she said, referring to Joseph Goebbels, whose official title under Adolf Hitler was Reich minister of public intelligence and propaganda. “Nazi [comparisons] like confetti. A dozen Hitlers to a dime. It doesn’t surprise me anymore.”
Addressing her critics, she continued: “That’s bad news for you because for many years, I’ve been defending people’s memory [the victims of the] Holocaust. I’ve been fighting the holocaust hoax for years. But it doesn’t surprise me anymore. and they will burn your children there. How is this possible?”
The victims of the Holocaust were mostly European Ashkenazi Jews, but in Israel it is treated, and experienced, as a tragedy for all Jews. That includes Sephardim, who immigrated to Israel mainly from the Middle East and North Africa and make up about half of the country’s Jewish population.
Distel Atbaryan’s speech was mainly about the radical judicial reform led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party, which has campaigned on disenfranchisement among Sephardi voters and is the most popular party in many Sephardi municipalities. Some government ministers portray the opposition and the judiciary as a privileged minority dominated by the Ashkenazi establishment.
Following Distel Atbaryan’s comments, Channel 13’s Korach criticized the rhetoric in a monologue during the network’s nightly broadcast.
“There was one thing in your speech that should be put off by anyone who wants to continue living here as one nation,” said Korach, speaking in his monologue with Distel Atbaryan. “May the triviality of the Holocaust make you worry about ‘your’ children being burned.”
ע ת. لمی دیک هتتینیس? Who are we? ولی شهوه لبرر هم محمد علیہ امور کامور وبناء – یک عوللر
— דשות 13 (@newsisrael13) March 16, 2023
“Who did you mean?” Korach asked. “Did you mean by mistake to indicate, or to say expressly, that ‘the Holocaust is an issue for the leftists,’ that is to say, ‘of the Ashkenzis who are of course on the left?’ ”
After the monologue, Distel Atbaryan wrote on Twitter, “I’m boycotting Channel 13 completely,” accusing the network of “unfairly editing” her comments.
“That web is a bed full of incitement and poison. I’m not setting foot there again,” she said in a post before her Channel 14 interview.
Distel Atbaryan’s remarks also blocked social networks, with some interpreting the minister’s statement that she should be able to care less about the Holocaust because most of its victims were related to Ashkenazi Jews from the left wing now critical of the overhaul.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Distel Atbaryan pushed back against criticism of her speech. “I stand behind what I said last night. I am no longer surprised when I hear my name and the title ‘propaganda minister,’” she wrote, saying she felt the title was a reference to Goebbels.
In a subsequent interview with The Times of Israel, Distel Atbaryan insisted that she did not mean to discriminate between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, but to protest against the misuse of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in general, saying that she is “concerned about such interpretations. “
“That was not what I meant and, in retrospect, I regret that I used language that can be interpreted as distinguishing between how different groups of Israelis should talk about the Holocaust. None of us should be making Nazi comparisons,” she said. “There is no excuse for it. What I meant is that it pains me, especially when I see it being done by people whose own relatives died in the genocide, because this defies explanation.”