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Journalists fear for safety as Netanyahu ups war on media

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attacks on the media are creating a climate that threatens journalists' lives.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen on monitors before the evening news bulletin at Channel 10's control room in Jerusalem November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo - RTX2SI5L
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An Israeli posing as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak posted a recording of a phone call on his Facebook page in which he played a practical joke on the journalist Amnon Abramovich. In the Aug. 10 post, the impersonator, Yossi Vider, promised Abramovich a scoop in the form of a statement that Barak planned to run for Labor Party leader. In the process, Vider drew the veteran commentator into a conversation about the need to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s grip on power. Abramovich, who claims that he knew the conversation was a practical joke, played along with Vider. Right-wing activists seized the opportunity to charge that Abramovich has revealed his true colors — a non-objective journalist with a clear agenda of bringing down the prime minister.

This response was not unexpected, of course, but that of Netanyahu was even more dumbfounding. The prime minister shared the clip on his Facebook page, which has about 2 million followers and is considered the most important and most influential Facebook page in Israel. His sharing the recording unleashed a wave of mudslinging and curses against Abramovich on the social networks. He has been labeled a radical left winger, a self-hating troublemaking Jew and a traitor.

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