Prominent music stars join the protest against the government’s plan to shut down the public broadcaster

Some 200 leading Israeli musicians have signed a petition against government plans to shut down the public broadcasting authority, promising “to fight to preserve democracy”.

The performers – including stars like Shlomo Artzi, Shalom Hanoch, Rita, Ninet Tayeb and Ehud Banai – join hundreds of leading actors, directors and writers who protested Kan’s planned shutdown earlier in the week.

They also joined protests from prominent economists, business leaders, lawyers, students and other bodies who have expressed concern over the government’s planned judicial overhaul, which critics say will undermine democracy and justice. economy.

The government’s plans have sparked weekly mass protests and another is scheduled for Saturday.

“It is no coincidence that those trying to engineer regime change and remove all meaning from democracy have chosen to eliminate public broadcasts as one of their first steps,” the musicians’ letter reads. released Thursday.

“To shut down the Broadcasting Authority is to silence thousands of voices that will never find a home in the commercial media,” the newspaper wrote. “We will attend Saturday night’s protests and work with our friends to reverse these plans – and together with all citizens of Israel, we will preserve the democracy we hold so dear.”

Protesters against proposed changes to the justice system in Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Earlier this month, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said there was no reason to back public state broadcasting in Israel and indicated he intended to shut down the broadcaster. Kan as well as other transmission regulatory bodies.

Hundreds of actors, directors, writers and other cultural figures, as well as Kan public broadcaster workers, attended a meeting on Wednesday held at the Tzavta Theater to oppose the plan.

Ahead of the meeting, organizers said the company provides jobs for thousands of people and accounts for around 70% of those employed in the film and television industry.

“Karhi seals mouths and dries up the source from which original content draws its power,” organizers said in a statement. They condemned as an “illusion” the idea that original Hebrew-language content could be produced without public support.

“While original Hebrew work is important to us, public broadcasting is a necessity, and the company has proven this since its inception,” the statement read. “Creativity and free communication have social, moral and educational effects.”

Earlier this month, Karhi said his Likud party’s policy was to “remove barriers and remove regulations” in the industry to allow the free market to prevail.

“In my opinion, there is no place these days for a public broadcaster when there is a wide range of channels,” he added.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi attends a conference on digital journalism at Reichman University in Herzliya on January 9, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Likud party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has long been accused of seeking to shut down Kan over its criticism of the government while receiving public funds.

Kan hit the airwaves in 2017 after a long legislative battle to shut down and replace its predecessor, the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

At the time, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu – who also served as communications minister for years – strongly opposed the creation of Kan, saying he was too left-wing and too difficult to control. .

Internal disagreement over the issue nearly brought down the coalition in 2017. However, if the news service were to be shut down now, the decision is unlikely to be pushed back by Netanyahu’s current hard-right government.

Beyond protesting Kan’s shutdown, musical artists are joining a wave of opposition to plans to overhaul the justice system.

The plans call for severely restricting the High Court’s ability to overturn government laws and decisions, and there would also be an “override clause” that would allow the Knesset to re-enact such overturned laws with a simple majority of 61.

The proposed changes would also give the government full control over the selection of judges; prevent the court from using a standard of “reasonableness” to judge laws and government decisions; and allowing ministers to appoint their own legal advisers, instead of being advised by advisers operating under the Ministry of Justice.

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