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The New Arab

Israeli army radio in new battle with far-right

Mahmoud Darwish was adored in Palestine for his poetry and political views [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 July, 2016

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Israel's national army radio channel featured Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish on Tuesday, infuriating ultra-conservatives who have called for the military station to be closed for being 'too far left'.

Mahmoud Darwish is at the heart of a new political storm between anti-Palestinian Israeli politicians and the army's radio station.

The revolutionary poet was featured by the state-run broadcaster on Tuesday, infuriating the country's conservatives angered that his pro-liberation polemic went out on Israeli airwaves.

Culture Minister Miri Regev said that the Israeli public were paying to promote "anti-Israeli" poetry on national broadcaster.

"Army Radio has gone off the rails... Darwish isn't Israeli and his texts are not Israeli and are in essence in opposition to the central values of Israeli society," she told NRG.

"I again call upon Defence Minister Liberman to clear this up. Army Radio must be removed from the defence establishment."

The following day, infuriated Lieberman called in the head of the army station for "clarifications".

The far-right defence minister said the choice of the poet was "a grave matter" and "someone who has written texts against Zionism - which to this day are used to fuel terror attacks against Israel".


Palestine's national poet was the subject of a programme on the channel's educational "university of the air" series on Tuesday night.

Israeli army radio said they were right to broadcast the poet and that "academic freedom and openness give us an obligation to give listeners access to a wealth of ideas".

The channel has been the subject of a long-standing war with Lieberman who views the military station as being too left-wing and has called for it be taken off the airwaves.

Mahmoud Darwish is probably Palestine's best known and loved writer, whose Romantic poetry epitomised the Palestinians national struggle and fight for self-determination.

He was born in a Palestinian village in 1941, but forced to flee his home when Israeli fighters assaulted the area. He later spent time in Palestine, Lebanon, the Soviet Union before passing away in the US in 2008.

His body was brought to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and given a hero's funeral.

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