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Feb 20, 2014

Bet Shemesh newspaper operating illegally

This item will be of particular interest to people of Bet Shemesh... I am just going to translate from the Hebrew and not leave any of my own commentary on the matter:

As reported on the Shopping Mekomi Facebook page:

The continue to make a joke of the law! The newspaper "Chadash" is operating with no license, against the law, and continues to be funded by, among others, advertisements from City Hall, meaning, public funds. A request was sent today to the Interior Minister to shut down the newspaper. The mayor and the professional staff have been instructed not to advertise in the newspaper and to enforce this directive.

After a clarification performed by the Ministry of Interior it turns out that "Chadash Bet Shemesh", a local Charedi newspaper of Bet Shemesh, has no license. As has been publicized before, the newspapers administration has refused, during the election period, to publish election material for the candidate Eli Cohen. They even admitted to this and explained their reasoning: "The Chadash newspaper is the newspaper of the Charedi public of Bet Shemesh. Because all the Gedolei Yisroel and righteous men of the generation have expressed their definitive support for Moshe Abutbol for mayor, we will not agree to publish against that statement."

Eli Cohen's lawyer, Ariel Nissim, claims that this is a clear violation of the election laws and has requested that it should be investigated whether the newspaper is even operating with a license, as the law demands. This is the time to remind you that according to Paragraph 4 of the Newspaper Ordinance establishes that: One is not allowed to print or publish any newspaper in Israel unless its owners first receive a license signed by the person appointed  over the district on the form along with the first one for this order.

Today, Thursday February 20, Inbar Golshani, the director of the newspaper division of the Ministry of Interior, stated that the Ministry of Interior has no documentation of a license issued for the Chadash newspaper. Meaning, the Chadash newspaper is operating with no license.

This is the place to point out, that the Newspaper Ordinance establishes serious criminal sanctions - imprisonment up to 6 months and a fine for "the person who prints or publishes a newspaper prior to receiving a license for him or any other agent or who permits its printing or publication, in addition to sanctions defined in that paragraph, and the court is empowered to order him detained and to confiscate all copies of the paper that had been printed. 

Upon receiving the statement from the Ministry of Interior, Adv. Ariel Nissim turned to the Minister of Interior, MK Gideon Saar, with a clear request "to immediately turn to the Chadash newspaper administration and demand an immediate stop to the printing of the newspaper, and even more so when the newspaper is breaking the law of the State of Israel regarding election material, this matter is so much more important, for in Bet Shemesh there will be in the near future re-elections as ordered by the courts.

Adv. Nissim informed Chadash regarding the information received from the Ministry of Interior: You are requested to immediately cease printing or publishing the Chadash newspaper.

As wellAdv. Nissim turned to the mayor, Moshe Abutbol, to the legal counsel of the City of Bet Shemesh Adv. Miki Gastwirth, the Comptroller of the city Yaakov Dahan: you are requested to instruct all relevant parties in City Hall of Bet Shemesh to immediately refrain from advertising or make any other use of Chadash newspaper and immediately stop any other communication with the newspaper.

When turning to the mayor, Adv. Nissim added: you should know, the public sees you as directly and personally responsible  for any expense passed to the newspaper that is operating illegally with no license, from the time you receive this letter. As well, it is appropriate that a mayor of a city in Israel who is entrusted with enforcement of the law and of the order in his city, will not assist and give his money to those operating against the law and will not use the services of the newspaper that has no license, even just for appearances sake. So, it does not make sense that a mayor will fund a newspaper with no legal license, with the knowledge that lacking a license is a criminal offense.

Shopping Mekomi turned to Chadash for a response, but has not yet received one at this point in time.


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25 comments:

  1. I have no love for Chadash Beit Shemesh, but I fail to understand why the government should have any right to decide on who does or does not have the right to publish and distribute a newspaper.

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  2. why should they have less of a mandate to issue licenses to newspapers than they do for radio stations, television stations, or actually any business in the country (pretty much every business needs a license to operate)?

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    1. Radio and TV stations need to be regulated publicly because of the inherent limits on the number of available slots on the broadcast spectrum. But newspapers?

      As a U.S. citizen for whom Freedom of the Press is extremely important, I see government licensing of newspapers as much too amenable to government control of the press. Unless, of course, you accept the totalitarian mindset which has been associated with governments in Israel ever since its founding.

      I suggest you re-examine your views on this, Rafi.

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    2. Regardless of whether there should be such a law, there is a law. You can say there shouldn't be one, but once there is...
      Are you sure that freedom of the press means newspapers don't need operating licenses? Maybe it means licensed papers can say what they want?

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    3. And I am not sure why the US constitution is relevant to Israeli law. I might think a law is wrong or unnecessary, but the US constitution isn't the barometer for other countries

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    4. "Are you sure that freedom of the press means newspapers don't need operating licenses?"

      Yes, Rafi, I'm quite sure. Newspapers must follow the various laws about speech (re: libel, for instance) and the various tax laws, but -- at least in the United States -- more than 250 years of American history have guaranteed that there is certainly no requirement to get a license from the government in order to publish a newspaper. That's the mark (and the mindset today) of a totalitarian government.


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    5. from about 3 minutes of research just now, it looks like there is no license specific to newspapers in the USA, but if they are a commercial endeavor (rather than just somebody who wants to be heard) they need a business license to operate.
      Still not sure though how that is relevant here. One can petition MKs to abolish a law he thinks is bad, but US law or Constitutional norms are not binding on Israel

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    6. from about 3 minutes of research just now, it looks like there is no license specific to newspapers in the USA, but if they are a commercial endeavor (rather than just somebody who wants to be heard) they need a business license to operate.
      Still not sure though how that is relevant here. One can petition MKs to abolish a law he thinks is bad, but US law or Constitutional norms are not binding on Israel

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  3. Chadash is a newspaper? Get serious.
    This is just a cynical pathetic attempt to paint the Chareidim as cheaters and to silence Moshe Abutbol.

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    1. Silence abutbol? In the previous elections, abutbol was able to advertise in 4 or 5 newspapers. Even tzion Sultan who has very bad relations with abutbol publicized Abutbol's d election ads. Abutbol even advertised by Sultan despite having a ban on Sultan during the regular year (because of sultans regular attacks against him).
      Abutbol was not and will not be silenced.
      The only silencing was of Eli Cohen by chadash when they refuse to print his advertisements.

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  4. Shutting down the opposition's newspapers citing "regulations" is the kind of thing that Putin does.
    Not a good sign of how Eli operates.
    Why can't he just focus on winning an election by convincing voters?

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    1. should election laws not be enforced? arent they there for a reason? why have election laws if enforcing them is not a good thing? thats besides for the licensing issue. there were two issues -the licensing and the operating in opposition to election law about taking ads for all candidates.
      why have a law about not using kids for your campaign, if when you complain that one candidate does you are attacked for silencing him? why have a law about size of signs, if one can violate the law whenever he wants and those that complain about it get criticized. elections are not meant to be a free for all.

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  5. what I think Chadash can argue in its favor is that it is not a newspaper but an ad book. It has far more pages of advertising than of articles...

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  6. Rafi who are you kidding we only follow laws that our Rabbanim agree with. And if someone gets a citation or worse, then it's just anti-Semitic persecution like we had in the Old Country.

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  7. There are two separate issues here, and let's not blur them:
    1. There is a law in Israel that newspapers must have a license.
    2. The law is an ass.
    As far as the law is concerned, the municipality must abide by it; as a government body they do not have the freedom that individual citizens have to protest stupid laws. So yes, the municipality should not advertise in Chadash any more. But we citizens have a right and a duty to protest against totalitarian laws like this. It may be being applied against a contemptible snot rag like Chadash today, but tomorrow it could be applied by a left-wing government to silence Makor Rishon, Israel Hayom or any other publication that takes an inconvenient political stand. If you think that's absurd, remember how one of Ariel Sharon's first steps towards bulldozing Gush Katif was to shut down Arutz-7's radio station, thus ensuring that the television and radio waves were completely monopolized by the Left, and no other narrative could be presented to the Israeli public at large.

    By all means, they should be required to register as a business, charge and pay VAT and corporate taxes, and pay their employees on the books, and if they attempt to cheat on taxes, they should be prosecuted with the full force of the law. If they're going to be shut down, let it be for a bona fide violation of a reasonable civil law - not because of some archaic, statist garbage technicality. Freedom of speech is even for people who express opinions that offend you.

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    1. why do you keep attempting to bring US issues to Israel politics. There is no "freedom of speech" guarantee in Israel, so stop taking our rights as US citizens ans pounding it down theirs. You are like the guy who walks into a treif bakery screaming "yoshon, yoshon". Our own religion doesn;t allow for freedom of speech, so why should the Israeli gov't. If there is a law on the books, and it isn;t kneged halacha, then halacha actually dictates you follow that law. you don;t like it - go out and change it, until then the paper needs a license like every other one and there is no excuse for what is happening.

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    2. Further to Shaya's argument, if we are going to start using the U.S. Constitution as an example of how a free society should operate, we should bear in mind that under the First Amendment, the entire state religious structure that exists in this country - from government funded rabbinutes to the teaching of Torah in state-funded schools, and a lot more - would be completely and utterly unconsitutional and prohibited.

      Regarding newspapers, the potential for abuse may exist under the present system. However, given the variety of freely operating and (I presume) properly licensed newspapers, from HaAretz on the left to Mekor Rishon on the right and Yeted Neeman and HaModia on the - well, I'm not sure which direction, we need another hand to account for the complexity of Israeli society - but anyway, I think we're a ways away from totalitarianism here with respect to freedom of the press. If Yated Neeman, HaModia, and Tmura can manage to publish legally, I'm not sure why Chadash cannot.

      (Having said this, though, the regulation, as quoted below by Herb, does seem archaic and potentially dangerous, and should probably be repealed.)

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  8. Let's not forget Eli sending his legal lackeys after Kol Chai and Kol Berama too. This all seems to be a deliberate strategy, I guess he's figured he can't win by playing fair.

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    1. ?? what did he do with kol chai and kol berama?

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    2. Rafi: http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/article.php?id=135733

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    3. I think the Charedi definition of "playing fair" isn't the legal definition.... After all, Abutbol himself was quoted saying that even the fraud was really legitimate votes, some people voted on behalf of others who couldn't make it to the polls. Be careful what slippery slope you sit on....

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    4. Agreed, I'm not saying he's doing anything illegal. But the fact that he's using these tactics says more about him than about his targets. I'm guessing Kikar is next in line; I wonder what Mr Nissim will dream up for them

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    5. "says more about him than about his targets" - um, that he has to combat fraud in order to get a democratic result? He's going after Chadash because they have been playing dirty. It also says that Eli Cohen doesn't have as much money behind him as Abutbol - there were several issues of Chadash which had about 10 full page ads promoting the Abutbol campaign, and Eli could only afford to pay for one ad in their paper (at 5k, which they didn't print). If the more money behind the campaign would translate into more money for the city I would definitely vote Abutbol. But sadly there is only money for campaigning.

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  9. the law seems to date back to 1945 (yes, pre-1948)
    http://www.israellawresourcecenter.org/emergencyregs/essays/emergencyregsessay.htm

    (I have no idea if this site is accurate. It just came up by googling)

    Regulation 94 - Newspaper Permits

    94.
    (1) No newspaper shall be printed or published unless the proprietor thereof shall have obtained a permit under the hand of the District Commissioner of the District in which the newspaper is being, or is to be, printed.
    (2) The District Commissioner, in his discretion and without assigning any reason therefor, may grant or refuse any such permit and may attach conditions thereto and may at any time suspend or revoke any such permit or vary or delete any conditions attached to the permit or attach new conditions thereto.
    (3) Any person who contravenes this regulation or the conditions of any permit there under and the proprietor and editor of the newspaper in relation to which the contravention occurs shall be guilty of an offence against these Regulations.

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  10. Please clarify - if we do away with newspaper licenses, then Chadash can legitimately take 5k from Eli Cohen for a political ad and then refuse to run it? Or does that just mean a newspaper could then legally refuse to run political ads it does not agree with?

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