No one ever imagined that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s irrepressible obsession with everything to do with communications and the media in Israel would lead to a coalition crisis that threatens the very survival of the government. Yet that is exactly the situation as this article is being written Nov. 2. There has been an almost absolute shutdown of communications between Netanyahu and his finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, with both men facing off against each other over an issue that has rocked the Israeli political system over the past few weeks. At the center of their conflict are Netanyahu’s plans to shut down the public broadcasting corporation, which was created by a special law passed by Netanyahu’s own government just a year ago.
The corporation was supposed to replace the old Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which will shut down once the corporation begins operation in early January 2017. It took about two years before the legislation bearing the new corporation’s name was finally passed into law. It was supposed to bring Israel into the 21st century in all matters concerning a public broadcasting platform, which would be completely independent and free of political influence. Then, something happened to Netanyahu a few months ago. No one can explain exactly what it was, but suddenly the prime minister began to see the new corporation that he himself founded as a kind of strategic threat to his government.