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Kahane Gets Favorable Court Ruling but It May Not Spell a Victory

July 29, 1987
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Rabbi Meir Kahane may be receiving more television coverage here following a Supreme Court order Monday directing the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to reverse its policy of limiting coverage of Kahane’s activities.

The ruling came in response to an appeal by Kahane which protested a two-year-old IBA policy that restricted coverage of Kahane to what were deemed items of real news value following a series of violent clashes between Kahane supporters and leftists at rallies.

The court ruled that IBA did not have the authority to put such limitations on its coverage of Kahane. The ban has resulted in a minute amount of coverage for Kahane and the Kach Party which he represents in the Knesset in the Israeli television, radio, and press.

Aharon Barak, Supreme Court President, supported Kahane’s right to make his views known although he said Kahane’s views and those of the extreme right in Israel frightened him.


In his ruling, Barak said the freedom of expression covered not only the views that were acceptable to the public, but also “the freedom to express views that are dangerous, provocative and extreme…that revolt and anger the public.” He added that the IBA could ban only broadcasts that are “nearly certain to cause significant damage to public order if a particular view were expressed at a specific time.”

Justices Shoshana Netanyahu and Gavriel Bach agreed with Barak, but Bach said the IBA should have more latitude in determining which programs to ban. The IBA may block the broadcast of racially and ethnically inciteful material even when there is no danger of “near certain” disruption to public order, he wrote in his opinion. Kahane rejoiced at the court’s ruling. He immediately demanded that he be invited to the prestigious TV interview program “Moked” (Focus). But jurists and journalists opined Tuesday that although the ruling seemed to be a victory for Kahane, it did leave the IBA the right to decide whether to interview Kahane, report his actions, or not.

Dr. Ruth Gabishon of the Hebrew University said that eventually the ruling may serve to limit Kahane’s expression, precisely because the court stood by the right not to broadcast inciteful material. Hanna Zemer, editor of Davar, wrote Tuesday that “the freedom to express views that are dangerous, provocative and extreme….that revolt and anger the public,” can eventually be applied for the benefit of the extreme left.

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