Dozens of Israeli Zionist rabbis, many of them heads of institutions, declared in an open letter on Aug. 3 that they will no longer buy products from the Strauss Group food and beverage company after it pulled its advertising from Channel 14.
The rabbis expressed shock at the Strauss Group’s decision to use its “economic power to impose a political agenda on public opinion in Israel.” They likened it to “communist Russia” where only left-wing, atheistic views could be voiced.
“The decision to boycott media outlets that express a clear and ringing voice loyal to Israel’s tradition and nationalist and Zionist values is not a one-off boycott of the media landscape, but a boycott and injury to a large public in Israel,” the rabbis’ letter stated.
“We cannot sit on the sidelines, and we have announced that from today our yeshivahs and educational institutions will not purchase products from companies that boycott publics in Israel, that harm freedom of expression and the unity of the people,” they added.
Strauss announced last week that it would cease advertising on the channel after a pundit on one of its panels said that Yigal Amir, the assassin who killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, should be freed.
Strauss made its announcement despite Channel 14 immediately dismissing the panelist, Ari Shamai, who was a regular contributor to the station.
Channel 14 is known for its politically right-wing views, just as Channels 11 (the public broadcaster), 12 and 13 are predominantly left-wing.
In an explanatory letter, Strauss said that it came to its decision not just because of Shamai’s recent remarks but also due to “various offensive statements, repeated over and over in the programs broadcast on the channel.”
Shortly after the Strauss Group’s announcement, Strauss Water Ltd., a subsidiary of the Strauss Group whose main product, a mini-water bar, is marketed in Israel under the Tami 4 brand, and Delek Motors, which imports Mazda, BMW, Ford and Mini cars, said they, too, were pulling their advertising from Channel 14.
They joined Coca-Cola and Bank Discount, which had already ceased working with the channel.