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Mrs. Meir Accuses News Media of Witch-hunt in Report of Probes into Alleged Scandals Involving Firms

December 23, 1971
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Premier Golda Meir accused last night Israel’s press, radio and television of conducting a “witch-hunt” in the style of the late US Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy and of fanning a “lynching atmosphere.” In a speech to the Labor Alignment’s Knesset faction here, Mrs. Meir was referred to news media treatment of investigations into alleged scandals and mismanagement in the affairs of government-owned companies.

Her criticism was apparently prompted by a new attack yesterday on Justice Minister Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro in the newspaper Haaretz. Columnist Natan Dunevitz accused the Minister of having lied to the Knesset about his connections with Mordechai Friedman, managing director of the Netivei Neft oil company currently under investigation. Mrs. Meir said the press, radio and television acted as if they were run by the opposition. “All we need now are peoples courts to decide whom to hang next,” she declared.

She claimed that newspaper editors admit privately that they sensationalize news to keep ahead of their competitors. According to the Haaretz columnist, Shapiro did not tell the truth when he said he had no knowledge of the fact that his own law firm had registered the Continental Oil Co, owned by Friedman who was also put in charge of Netivei Neft which is drilling oil in the Sinai peninsula. Friedman has been accused of selling government equipment belonging to Netivei Neft to Continental Oil at a large discount.

Shapiro has denied the charges. He said Haaretz was mistaken if it thought it could coerce him into resigning or filing a libel suit while in office. No Minister of Justice has ever filed a libel suit during his tenure inasmuch as the judges hearing the case would be appointed by a committee of which the Justice Minister is a statutory member.

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