Michael Segal

Save Kan TV to save the Diaspora

Kalman Liebskind, host of Kan TV program "Etzem Ha'Inyan"

Incoming Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi added to the rumblings that the new government will close down the taxpayer-funded Kan broadcaster.  That is a bad idea, but not for the reasons people think.

Karhi has a point that Kan’s news programs lean Left, but they are nowhere near as biased as public broadcasters such as BBC in the UK, or even private broadcasters in the USA.  Karhi also has a point that the government shouldn’t be in the TV business.  But there is a powerful reason why Kan must be preserved – it provides a key tool to keep the Diaspora connected to Israel.

The news programs of Kan are available both live ( and as streaming recordings (  They are far better in both quality and availability than programs of Israel’s private TV channels.  Some of the reporters are clearly biased, and treat some figures on the right with contempt, but others seem quite fair.  For people in the Western Hemisphere who watch these programs hours later, it is simple to avoid the biased shows and watch the ones that are quite impartial.

There are plenty of actions of the new government that will displease Jews in the Diaspora in the short run, but getting rid of Kan will do long-term damage by breaking the connections of Jews in the Diaspora to Israel.  Getting rid of Kan will cut them off from Hebrew as a living language that can fill an hour of their day with programming from an Israeli perspective.  Some people are satisfied to exercise while watching videos of bicycling through French villages, but others would rather watch an Israeli news program and care about what is happening in Israel.

I don’t remember ever seeing Binyamin Netanyahu interviewed on Kan, and the interview of Bezalel Smotrich during the election campaign was journalistic malpractice.  But others such as Tzachi Hanegbi are frequent guests and articulate the positions of the Right with great logic.  I don’t expect Kan to represent Smotrich’s views as well as Smotrich’s brilliant Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, but the sensible path forward is to nudge Kan to be more balanced.  The hopeful view is that such a push towards fairness is the policy that will emerge from the new government.

Regardless, the government should understand that getting rid of Kan could, in the long run, be the most damaging of its changes in policy towards the Diaspora, not by alienating people, but by killing off a major tool for keeping Jews in touch with Israel and Hebrew.  The government of Israel has no responsibility to be in the news business, but it does have a responsibility to be in the Hebrew business and in the Diaspora business.

It is not just about כאן (here).  It is also about שם (there).

About the Author
Michael Segal is a neurologist and neuroscientist in the United States.
Related Topics
Related Posts