Dati Leumi MKs Target Kol Berama Radio For Not Interviewing Females On Air

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MK (Likud) Tzipi Chotovely and MK (HaBayit HaYehudi) Uri Orbach spoke with Israel Radio Reshet Bet host Yaron Dekel on Monday, November 07, 2011, expressing their disapproval for the Kol Berama Radio station policy of not interviewing females. Chotovely is also the chair of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women. Orbach is a member of the state committee that set regulations for radio stations as well as monitoring adherence.Orbach explained that it was announced yesterday, Sunday, 9 Cheshvan, that there would be a one-hour slot during the evening during which women could speak on the air. The dati

 leumi MK expressed his outrage, stating the radio station simply cannot do as it pleases and it cannot ban women. A stormy session of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Woman addressed the chareidi station and its policy.

Chareidi MKs and station representatives took part in the Knesset committee session as well. During the session MK (Yahadut HaTorah) Yisrael Eichler shouted at the secular community for not permitting the chareidim to simply live their lives without interfering. Regarding accusation of Kol Berama discrimination against women, Eichler asked why Channel 2 almost never interviews chareidim, accusing the station of discrimination against chareidim.

Orbach explains the reason for the change is that the Second Radio Authority, which oversees the local station, has instructed Kol Berama they must air women. Orbach feels the hour once a week is insufficient and is seeking to compel the chareidi station to push for more air time for women, adding the law makes provisions for the radio authority to take actions to compel the change in policy.

Orbach admits that he has no problem with the quality of the content, but the fact that a women’s voice cannot be heard live on the air – simply unacceptable policy.

MK Chotovely:

Chotovely praised the Knesset committee, explaining that as soon as the radio state heard the committee was addressing its policy vis-à-vis airing women, she was called and was interviewed on Sunday, November 6, 2011. I received calls from senior Shas officials calling on me to watch the station and take care of it.

They are using state resources, namely the radio station, and abusing their authority, discriminating against women. It is unacceptable.

This is very serious and the law compels them to practice equality, not discrimination.

Dekel:

You are both members of the dati leumi community. Perhaps there must be an acknowledgment that the chareidi tzibur is different. There is a problem with involving women on the air, as they see it.

Orbach:

I for one do have a problem. Kol Chai Radio, which is half chareidi, does permit women on the air, and hosting programs. I too am Shomer Shabbat and we are aware of the issue of Kol Isha, which I too have my opinion on but will not discuss here, but here it is an issue of a female speaking, and there simply is not Halachic prohibition here, just the station’s own policy decision, something they made up.

Chotovely:

As you all know I began my career on the radio and I was a lone female voice in a predominately male environment. On Galei Tzahal and Israel Radio when security issues were discussed, females were included, not just men… we cannot permit developing a ghetto mentality. We do not want to become another Iran. We don’t want to be our neighbors and we are proud regarding our policies on women’s rights in the Mideast and I will not be part of any effort to take us back 100 years vis-à-vis women’s rights.

Dekel:

Permit me to congratulate you that as of last night there are women on the radio. At present it is between 7am-8am, and the two MKs, who say they too keep mitzvot, say there is no halachic prohibition involved here.

Maor:

I am a devout secularist, not shomer Shabbos but a businessman seeking to earn a living so I will not be addressing Halacha here, but business, which is what my interest is. Quite honestly, I will say that I have not seen any Halacha that permits women to go on the air, but I have seen laws saying they cannot. I personally would love for them to show me that it is permitted in accordance with Halacha.

As a businessman I must address my clients, in this case, the chareidi tzibur. According to a number of polls, including TGI, it is clear, that listeners don’t want to hear females on the radio. If they do, they will listen to other stations. At present, Kol Berama is the 5th regional radio station of the Second Authority and we are looking to continue climbing, not dropping.

We were told by the Second Authority that “at times you have to be smart, not correct” so we created the one-hour slot. We hoped few would be listening, realizing it would hurt us among our audience, which it did. We received many complaints following the program.

Dekel:

So this is like Egged was told regarding mehadrin lines, that if the company does not comply with the law the state authority would step in. Next it will be El Al, separating men and women, and then, we will have to walk on separate sidewalks.

Maor:

Egged and the controversy over the mehadrin lines is not the same since radio station was established as a station serving a specific sector, serving the chareidi public, as Egged is a bus company serving everyone. The state rightfully decided it was time to establish local radio to address the local audiences and that is what we do. There is no difference than if you enter a shul, you accept the minhagim of that shul. You cannot go and sit in the lady’s section because that is the way it is. You must accept it.

Dekel:

It is not your station or the chareidi public’s station, and the country has laws and you must adhere to these laws, namely discrimination against women is simply illegal. If you would have stated this is your policy you would not have been granted an operating license. We are talking about state resources, not your private resources. The State of Israel does not accept discrimination and this you must address.

Maor:

When we were interviewed prior to being granted a license, we made it perfectly clear that kol isha was not going to be part of the station’s police, and for us, this means women being interviewed on the air as well. This is written in the minutes so you can easily verify this.

Dekel:

Having female hosts on the air is one thing and interviewing women is another.

Maor:

The question is kol isha on the station, and that is what I was asked and we responded in detail. There can be no doubt as to what the policy is. If it was up to me, we would not have the females for the one-hour slot since it is not in the station’s interest.

If you wish to establish a station geared for a particular segment of society, then you must respect it, the sector, its ways and the station.

Dekel:

Did I give you ample opportunity to express yourself

Maor:

Yes

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)




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