The dispute between Nathan Zahavi and Radio 103 reached court: Zahavi filed a lawsuit today (Wednesday) in the Tel Aviv District Court for NIS 2.6 million against the radio station. The lawsuit states that "the defendant published incomprehensible slurs about him while flattering the regulators with whom she was obligated to protect the venture and freedom of speech." A statement of defense has not yet been filed.
According to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Lior Epstein, this is a breach of contract signed on the day in 1997 for the production of a joint venture called "Furious Zahavi", pursuant to the contract, Zahavi will broadcast and produce within the framework of the 103 broadcast schedule an opinionated and biting radio program, in order to protect the weak, transparent and glorify freedom of speech and thought, while condemning those who harm society and the remote. The parties acted for 25 years according to the spirit and language of the contract. From time to time the contract was formally renewed, but the fixed terms remained in place.
Natan Zahavi transmitting Radio 103FM, photo: Moshe Shai
Last November, during the broadcast of a program dealing with the inconceivable fact that 174 elderly people were found dead in their homes, victims of criminal neglect, loneliness, economic, social and psychological distress, Zahavi said: "You know how many old people now sit in a remote, foul-smelling room, dreaming about food, and if they have TV they watch all the food shows on this crappy TV, and the mucus drips from their mouths, What's going to be here where is it going! Where is this company going, where is the kindness! Where is the humanity! Gone are they."
"They don't do anything, but they are elected officials"
Later, Zehavi said: "All these derakas quote verses from the Bible to me - pray, put on tefillin, light Shabbat candles, spread challah, go dressed modestly. Go Kibinimat with modesty and challah and candle lighting and tefillin. I would be happy if some of them tied their tefillin to their throats and hanged themselves because they didn't do anything, but they are public representatives."
Epstein argued that the radio station sought to cease the project and release itself from its obligations to Zahavi and their significance to the public, exploited and even caused a public outcry, and exploited the event for an incorrect interpretation of things, while silencing the broadcaster, turning off the microphone and creating the appearance that he had deviated from freedom of speech and the culture of conversation.
Adv. Lior Epstein, Nathan Zehavi's attorney, photo: Gideon Markowitz
Epstein clarifies that according to the lawsuit, on the same day, the radio station suspended Zahavi from broadcasting, an action that is not authorized by virtue of the contract, and subsequently stopped paying Zahavi his salary as stipulated in the contract. About a month later, a 103FM reporter wrote to Zahavi and noted that his suspension would continue until he received notice of the harm caused by what he said, and after the announcement the radio station would reconsider its position.
"Slander him and publish slander"
Epstein sent a letter detailing his legal allegations against the radio station and the suspension. In March, in a letter that was published, Zahavi revealed that the station had decided not to return to broadcasting.
"The defendant unimaginably libeled the plaintiff badly and published incomprehensible slurs about him while flattering the regulators against whom she was obliged to defend the venture and its freedom of speech and fierce outcry," the lawsuit states. "In addition, the defendant libeled Mr. Zahavi by announcing that he would be removed from his position until he apologized to the many listeners whose feelings he had hurt, thereby sealing the issue as if Zahavi had committed a terrible injury."
Natan Zahavi at a court hearing (archive), photo: Gideon Markowitz
The radio station has not yet filed a statement of defense, but a letter sent by its attorney last March to Epstein stated, among other things, that Zahavi was the one who violated the agreement with them and that the station did not initiate the publication on the website and is not responsible for what is stated on it, certainly from unidentified sources, or inaccurate quotes of Nathan Zahavi's statements.
Demand that he apologize unequivocally
"As far as our client is concerned, the door is still open for your client to bring his suspension to an end. We are of the opinion that it was your client who violated the agreement, and as stipulated, while imposing heavy fines on the station due to your client's violations, by the competent authority in this regard. The demand was that Zahavi apologize unequivocally for his remarks, and they even sent him an acceptable wording."
In addition, it was written: "Nathan will undertake in writing that there will be no subsequent denial that he did not really apologize, etc., as happened after an apology that Channel 14 would burn down on its occupants, or any attempt by him to downplay the significance of the apology." They also demand from the station that Zahavi observe the rules of the Second Authority, and in the event that he violates them and fines are awarded to the station as a result, Zahavi will undertake to pay 50% of the fines for his statements.
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