Israel’s most popular radio station, especially among younger, draft-age listeners, Army Radio, has been under the threat of elimination for decades now, mostly from rightwing politicians who couldn’t understand why the IDF should finance a leftwing station that more often parrots the views of Ramallah than of Jerusalem. Now, with the new defense minister, Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) at the helm, and with the support of IDF chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the station is as good as gone, say Israeli media experts.
A review board headed by Defense Ministry Director Udi Adam is expected to submit its recommendations to Liberman in two weeks, and those are expected to be to take the successful station off the security budget, but not necessarily to shut it down.
Unlike the previous chief of staff, Benny Gantz, who had a soft spot for “Galatz” (the acronym Galay Tzahal, or IDF Waves), Eizenkot has no hidden sympathy for the station and, in fact, already recommended publicly to his previous boss, defense minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), to dump Galatz. Ya’alon refused, and the station crew were hoping this threat would end like all the similar threats of the past decades, and then Liberman’s shadow darkened their door.
According to Ma’ariv, the only question now is whether the station will be closed or be transformed into a civilian outfit. MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp), who used to be the Galatz commander at one point, is convinced this time it’s for real: “It always used to be that either the defense minister wanted to change things or the chief or staff did, but this time it’s both of them together. Liberman has no love lost for Galatz.”
MK Shai does not fault Liberman for the decision, especially since it came originally from the commander of the army, and does not represent a Liberman vendetta against those leftist editors and hosts. Shai is also convinced the public couldn’t care less either way. Gone are the days when Galatz was the only light music outlet in Israel’s centrally controlled media. There’s a plethora of Israeli FM stations to choose from on the dial today, plus numerous online sources for Israeli music.
Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) couldn’t be happier with the decision to shut down Galatz, which she has identified as a bastion of Ashkenazi, leftwing, elitist culture. Regev was also among the politicians who have been calling on Ya’alon to shut down the station, “but he failed to do so, despite a clear recommendation from chief of staff Eizenkot,” she said, adding, “I count on Minister Liberman to lead the needed change.”
The last straw in Galatz’s elitist load was the Gidi Orsher affair — Orsher, the station’s movie critic, posted a particularly offensive Facebook status in which he described Jews from Muslim countries as superstitious savages — which got him suspended and made him the subject of weeks of torrential attacks from everywhere, especially from his friends on the left. In a sense, at this point all Liberman has to say in order to quash further debate regarding the Galatz future is: Gidi Orsher. Because, at last, this Ashkenazi-elistist-secularist-anti-settlement radio ship has sunk.