Is­raeli TV jour­nal­ist be­comes a thorn in Ne­tanyahu’s side

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Af­ter a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ing re­ports about Is­rael’s first fam­ily, an in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist has be­come a par­tic­u­lar tar­get of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. Ra­viv Drucker of Chan­nel 10 TV has been a long­time thorn in Ne­tanyahu’s side, ex­pos­ing sev­eral scan­dals about the Is­raeli leader. In re­turn, Ne­tanyahu has be­rated him, sued him and even re­port­edly tried to get him fired. But Drucker has kept at it, and two of his re­cent sto­ries have trig­gered po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions. First, he broke the story that Ne­tanyahu’s per­sonal at­tor­ney had rep­re­sented a Ger­man com­pany in­volved in a $1.5 bil­lion sale of sub­marines to Is­rael, rais­ing ques­tions about the prime min­is­ter’s pos­si­ble in­volve­ment.

Then, he re­ported that Aus­tralian bil­lion­aire James Packer has lav­ished Ne­tanyahu’s col­lege-aged son, Yair, with gifts that in­cluded ex­tended stays at lux­ury ho­tels in Tel Aviv, New York and Aspen, Colorado, the use of his pri­vate jet and dozens of tick­ets for con­certs by Packer’s for­mer fi­ancee, Mariah Carey. Packer, who also owns a home next to Ne­tanyahu in the pros­per­ous coastal com­mu­nity of Cae­serea, is re­port­edly seek­ing Is­raeli res­i­dency sta­tus for tax pur­poses.

Ne­tanyahu did not dis­pute any of the facts but in­sists he has done noth­ing wrong. The re­ports led the prime min­is­ter, who fre­quently com­plains about me­dia cov­er­age of him and his fam­ily, to ac­cuse Drucker of wag­ing an ide­o­log­i­cally driven smear cam­paign.

“The des­per­ate, pa­thetic at­tempt of the politi­cian Ra­viv Drucker to slan­der the prime min­is­ter with a never-end­ing drip of lies and brain­wash­ing is aimed to­ward a char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion of the prime min­is­ter and his fam­ily. This is noth­ing new for Ra­viv Drucker,” the state­ment from Ne­tanyahu said. Drucker de­nies any politi­cal mo­ti­va­tion and in­sists he is only do­ing his job.

Now in his fourth term, Ne­tanyahu has re­peat­edly tried to curb his many de­trac­tors in the me­dia, which he con­sid­ers bi­ased against him and whose nu­mer­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions have failed to land him in any sig­nif­i­cant le­gal or politi­cal peril. He has for­gone press con­fer­ences and in­ter­views, and has tried to re­shape the me­dia land­scape in Is­rael. Like US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, he has taken to so­cial me­dia to lam­bast the press.

Me­dia reg­u­la­tion

Ne­tanyahu en­cour­aged the es­tab­lish­ment in 2007 of Is­rael Hayom, a free daily fi­nanced by bil­lion­aire Sheldon Adel­son that largely serves as his mouth­piece. He has ap­pointed him­self min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for me­dia reg­u­la­tion and or­dered his coali­tion part­ners not to float any me­dia-re­lated bills with­out his ap­proval.

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