Israel Hayom, the free daily newspaper and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mouthpiece, reached new heights of McCarthyism when it targeted journalist Makbula Nassar, a blogger for the Local Call website and a frequent contributor to the internet-based +972 Magazine, above the fold on its front page on Wednesday, November 8.
According to the newspaper, Nassar, who was recently appointed the National Road Safety Authority’s head of Arabic-language public relations, was accused of being an “active member of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian organizations.”
Israel’s Transportation Minister, Yisrael Katz, has demanded the dismissal of a civil servant who supports the Palestinian rights. Following an article by Israel Hayom about Nassar’s political activism, Katz responded: “Someone active in anti-Zionist Palestinian organizations and blatantly acting against Israel’s existence isn’t worthy of an educational and informational role for Israel in such an important area as road safety.” The statement also demanded that “a legal way has to be found to immediately terminate the new employee’s employment at the National Road Safety Authority.”
Katz’s attack prompted a petition by a number of Arab reporters and Jewish and Arab public figures. Joint List head MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) also backed Nassar: “Israel Hayom has crossed another red line in its persecution of the Arab community when it began a witch hunt against an Arab citizen of the country whose only crime was that she has a political consciousness and views.”
According to Haaretz, “on instructions from the National Road Safety Authority, Nassar declined to respond to the Israel Hayom article, but friends who have been in contact with her said her employers are backing her because proper procedures were followed in hiring her.”