“I think [the bill is] not constitutional,” he said. “It totally goes against freedom of the press and contradicts Israel’s ‘Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.’”
Fuchs explained that while Israel does not have a formal written constitution, the set of “Basic Laws” passed since the country’s founding in 1948 have “the weight of constitutional laws.” Fuchs said one “can’t legislate a law that contradicts a Basic Law,” which he believes is the case with the anti-free newspaper bill. Even if the bill somehow gets a majority in the Knesset, “it is my assumption that it will fall in the Supreme Court,” he said.
Ruthie Blum, a columnist who writes regularly for Israel Hayom, told JNS that banning the distribution of a free newspaper “ostensibly to protect the paid print media from going bust” is “antithetical to the principle of a free market.”
In a recent interview with his own newspaper, Sheldon Adelson took aim at Yediot publisher Arnon (Noni) Mozes, who was rumored to be behind the bill.
“It should be obvious to anyone who reads about this that the amount of power Yediot Aharonot publisher Noni Mozes has is unspeakable; he can tailor a bill just so he can eliminate competition,” Adelson said.
Asked if the proposed Israeli bill would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Adelson said, “To restrict the circulation of information is an out-and-out violation, in both letter and spirit, of the constitution.”
Calling free speech “the basic hallmark of democracy,” Adelson observed that “to deprive the citizens of the freedom of getting information simply because somebody is threatening the MKs and somehow incentivizing them to eliminate a competitor means the MKs are not doing their job.”
– JNS (Full disclosure: JNS.org is a distributor of Israel Hayom’s English-language content.)