HBO series ‘Our Boys,’ branded anti-Semitic by Netanyahu, doesn’t violate law, Israel broadcast council says

Israel’s broadcast council says it has no reason to interfere with a TV series branded “anti-Semitic” by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council (CSBC) responded to a complaint against the Keshet-HBO TV series “Our Boys” on Tuesday, saying that the content does not violate the law and it will therefore not interfere in its broadcast.

The series, which had both Arab and Israeli directors, portrays the kidnapping and murder of four boys that preceded the Israeli incursion into Gaza in the summer of 2014: Three Jewish teens in the Gush Etzion region by Hamas terrorists, and the revenge killing of one Arab boy by three Jewish perpetrators.

The problem, according to many Israeli viewers, including the complainant, the human rights Betzalmo organization, was one of proportionality and perspective. Only minutes are dedicated to the murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, while the rest of the 10-week series focuses on the case of Muhammad Abu Khdeir.

And as 120 bereaved families wrote in a protest letter to HBO, nothing is mentioned about the prevalence of Palestinian terrorism vs. the rare occurrence of Jewish terrorism, nor of the broad public support for such heinous actions against Jews in the Arab public, in contrast to the condemnation of such crimes against Arabs by Jewish Israelis across the political and religious spectrum.

CSBC is a public council in charge of overseeing multi-channel television in Israel, including broadening subscribers’ choices, expanding diversity and pluralism in broadcasts, and supervising the programming for children and youths.

In its letter of response, CSBC stated that after watching the show, it deems that “its content does not contravene Israeli law and that it is protected under freedom of expression, and therefore we do not find it appropriate to intervene.”

The Council added that “Government intervention in commercial television content is rare, and should only be done in exceptional cases, including incitement.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called the series “anti-Semitic” and urged viewers not only to boycott the show, but also its Israeli producer, Keshet.

“This is the real answer in democracy – freedom of choice to watch and freedom of choice not to watch,” he wrote Friday in a Facebook post.

After receiving CSBC’s answer, Betzalmo joined in the prime minister’s boycotting call, saying that the series “damages the State of Israel and its good name” as well as harming the bereaved families.