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2 more firms cut ads on Channel 14 after panelist called to release Rabin’s assassin

Israeli car importer Delek Motors and manufacturer Caesarstone announced Tuesday that they will cease advertising on the right-wing Channel 14 after the network’s panelist called for the release of Yigal Amir, the assassin of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Although Channel 14 dismissed panelist Ari Shamai soon after he made the comments, the companies joined the food conglomerate Strauss Group, which on Monday became the first to stop advertising on the station.

“In light of the comments made regarding the release of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, the company has stopped advertising on Channel 14 and is considering its next steps,” read separate statements from Delek Motors and Caesarstone, which specializes in quartz surfaces.

“In recent months, Israeli society is being torn by a deep divide that places it at one of the most sensitive and tense crossroads we have known in our history,” continued the statements, entire passages of which were identical. “At this time, we must all do whatever we can to lower the flames and emphasize what unifies us and not what divides. To our disappointment, Channel 14 is not only not doing that, but is deepening the tear and broadening the divide.”

“The peak was a call to release the assassin of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which received applause from the studio audience and was echoed the following day by a senior anchorman on the channel,” Delek Motors’ letter added, possibly referring to comments made by Shai Golden comparing Yigal Amir to anti-judicial overhaul protesters, saying they were both wrong for opposing the will of the majority.

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“We believe that we, and our peers, do not have to take part and fund such despicable behavior,” Delek Motors’ statement said. “[Hopefully], this move will bring the channel’s management to conduct thorough soul-searching. Only after meaningful policy changes will we reconsider our decision.”

View of the Strauss Elite candy factory in Nof Hagalil, northern Israel, April 28, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

In response, Channel 14 appeared to blame Strauss Group for Delek Motors’ and Caesarstone’s decisions, saying: “We’re disappointed that a publicly owned company like Strauss has decided to ‘educate’ the public instead of serving it. Strauss’s decision to drag other advertisers with them in order to blur their role in the effort to have Channel 14 shut down will not succeed.”

Shamai made the comment Sunday on Channel 14’s popular panel show “The Patriots,” while discussing a High Court ruling against a recent law seen as specifically benefiting an associate of Shas party chair Aryeh Deri. The court ruled that the law, which removes the cooling-down period for an acting mayor before they can run for a full term, must only go into effect after the upcoming local elections in October.

“I am happy to hear one statement — that the High Court of Justice and Supreme Court are against personal laws. If that is so, then the time has come to release the assassin Yigal Amir because there are personal laws against him,” Shamai said, receiving pushback from the other panelists but applause from the show’s studio audience. Host Yinon Magal said: “We’re not getting into this.”

Shamai was likely referring to a law passed in 2001, colloquially called “the Yigal Amir Law,” which bars parole boards from pardoning or commuting the sentence of a prisoner convicted of murdering a prime minister for political reasons.

Channel 14, a pro-Netanyahu conservative network sometimes likened to the US’s Fox News, quickly disavowed Shamai’s remark and said he would no longer be invited on the show or on the network.

“The grave remarks Ari Shamai made represent his views alone. In light of the seriousness of the matter, Mr. Shamai will no longer be invited to appear on the channel’s programs,” the network said in a statement.

Shamai, a lawyer and media personality, has had several high-profile clients throughout his career, including Gonen Segev, a former energy minister convicted of spying for Iran; members of the extremist Beitar Jerusalem fan club, La Familia; and Ronnie Leibowitz, a well-known serial bank robber.

Shamai’s comments came during his first appearance on Channel 14 following a five-month suspension he had received for saying that protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul were the offspring of Jews who lived in the Warsaw Ghetto during the ghetto uprising but refused to fight against the Nazis.

Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, by Amir, an extremist Jew who opposed the 1993 Oslo Accords under which Israel was transferring West Bank territory to Palestinian control. He claimed religious legitimacy for the murder, and has said he was prompted to kill Rabin by the 1992 election results that brought the Labor leader to power and encouraged to do so by the massacre of 29 Palestinians by Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein in Hebron in 1994.

Amir shot Rabin to death at the end of a mass peace rally in Tel Aviv that was called to highlight opposition to violence and to showcase public support for Rabin’s efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians.