Supreme Court Orders Army Radio to Engage in Dialogue with Yad L’Achim

The cover page of the Supreme Court's ruling

In a unanimous decision, a Supreme Court panel headed by its president, Asher Grunis, recently ruled that Army Radio must enter into a dialogue with Yad L’Achim to work out the wording of an advertisement that warns of the dangers posed by missionaries in Israel.

Yad L’Achim went to court after the public radio station refused to air an anti-missionary advertisement on the grounds that it could “offend the religious sensibilities” of some groups and that Yad L’Achim’s activities, “even if they are legal and legitimate, are the subject of an ideological dispute among the public and we as a military body can’t broadcast messages of this type.”

The advertisement that Army Radio found “offensive” went as follows: “Neshamah. Don’t let them work on your neshamah [soul]! The missionaries operate throughout the county in an effort to influence you to convert out of your religion. Don’t be lured by them! Protect with pride your Jewish identity!”

After Army Radio rejected the ad, Yad L’Achim’s legal counsel, Yoram Sheftel, clarified to the station that the “broadcast is a public-service announcement warning Jews about anti-Semitic-missionary activity in their midst and doesn’t offend the religious sensibilities of any part of the Israeli population.”

Army Radio’s legal department responded that “a public radio station cannot become the venue of clashes between elements supporting missionaries and cults and those opposing them.”

Moreover, the legal department claimed that the ad was “likely to arouse fear and panic among the public.”

In response, Yad L’Achim’s founding chairman, Hagaon Harav Dov Lifschitz, zt”l, ordered the organization’s legal department to petition the High Court. In a 13-page appeal drafted by Sheftel and Doron Beckerman, Yad L’Achim presented the legal standing of Army Radio and the issues of freedom of speech, as well as precedents that backed Yad L’Achim’s position.

The appeal expressed astonishment at Army Radio’s claim that the content of the ad was a subject of controversy. “Mixed marriage is the result of assimilation, which threatens the continued existence of the Jewish people, certainly in the long term. The battle against assimilation in general and mixed marriage in particular, is a Jewish value of the highest order, not a ‘subject of controversy.’

Moreover the claim that the message is likely to spark fear and panic among the public is clearly unfounded.

The court gave the sides until June 2, 2012, to resolve the matter.

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