Last night we learned that HOT Cable company has chosen not to reapply for a license for Shelanu TV, which effectively ends Shelanu TV’s era on the HOT cable network. We, HOT and Shelanu, both knew that in a free and democratic society, we would have received approval for our new license. And if not, we would have won in court. The only thing that could have stopped our channel from being aired was if HOT broke our relationship.
We have no doubt that government officials, who understood it the same way, put tremendous pressure on HOT to disassociate itself from Shelanu TV. This way the Israeli government would not be accused of denying anyone’s freedoms and Shelanu TV would be gone from the airways.
First, we want to say thank you to HOT for sticking with us as long as they did. Quite honestly, we expected them to drop us two months ago, when the controversy began. We hold no ill will against them. They were in a no-win situation and we are a small client.
Second, we are considering taking legal action against Chairman Asher Biton for knowingly deceiving the public in saying that Shelanu’s license, that he himself granted, was to target an audience that was Christian and not Jewish. The July 2019 and March 2020 license both clearly state in section 1.2 that “The channel is intended for the audience of viewers in Israel.” In addition, it says in 1.5 that we would make content suitable for an “audience in Israel.” It says NOTHING about our audience being Christian, as he maintains. (We have released a copy of the license.)
We do not wish to harm Mr. Biton in anyway, knowing that he himself has been the target of anti-Messianic groups like Yad Lachim, putting incredible pressure on him to revoke our license, but he has told all Israel and many in the international community that we used deceptive tactics to get the license, when in fact we were upfront with HOT executives from day one. This has been the headline or primary quote in dozens of local and international articles over the past few days.
Shelanu directors never saw the application or the license until late May 2020. HOT executives will testify that we were honest with them from day one.
We ask Mr. Biton to issue an apology and clarification that there was no stipulation that our content was only supposed to be for Christians. If he corrects the matter, we will take no legal action.
Third, we will take Shelanu TV to the internet. As Israelis who love our country and know the laws, we will not be silenced. We will continue, in a spirit of love, despite being persecuted by our own government, to be a voice against BDS and seek support from evangelicals all over the world for Israel. We will stand with Israel, even if our government does not stand with us.
Make no mistake—as Israelis, most of whom have served in the army, pay our taxes and love our country, we are hurt and devastated that our country’s leaders would act against us. But at the same, we are happy that they put pressure on HOT to drop us rather than to take the unprecedented, anti-democratic move of stripping the Messianic Jewish and Christian Arab communities of their freedoms of speech and expression. That would have set horrible precedent for the only democracy in the Middle East.
Please visit us at shelanu.tv.