A newly religious Israeli journalist, now a Chabad follower, is evangelizing his government controlled workplace. As might be expected, some of his colleagues object:
"It's a scandal. It's forbidden to bring worshipers into a broadcasting facility, especially near the news department. It will start with prayers on the High Holy days, continue on regular Saturdays and then there will be a suit filed to stop broadcasting on Saturdays because it disrupts the service. So long as people sought a prayer corner in the workplace it was okay. Now they're starting to say they will pray in the Nakdi studio. Because the whole residential area around the authority is religious, who knows how it will end."
This Chabad follower uses his office as a synagogue. Under the sponsorship of the director general of Israel's Broadcast Authority, he recently obtained a Torah scroll for it and held a celebration to mark its dedication. He invited religious politicians but not secular politicians. One religious politician, former Moledet MK Rabbi Yosef Ba-Gad, had this to say:
"Bringing a Torah scroll to the heretical Broadcasting Authority is a great victory," Ba-Gad said. "Just like how the Satmar Hasidim did to the Zionists last week when they laid the cornerstone for their institutions on the ruins of the Edison Theater."
The newly religious journalist, when asked why he invited sitting and former religious MKs and political figures but not representatives of secular parties like Likud, or Meretz, for example, invoked the M word:
"It is possible that we should have invited all the representatives. The next time there is an even more important event, the arrival of the Messiah, we will learn the lesson and invite the leaders of all the factions. This really was a mistake on my part, because every Jew is connected to the Torah."
So let's recap. The Chabad follower-journalist uses state backing to hold a Torah dedication ceremony for the state Broadcasting Authority synagogue, which is housed in his office. He invites to this state ceremony only Orthodox religious politicians. Those politicians – who control funding for the Israel Broadcasting Authority – make speeches that can easily be seen as divisive and anti-secular. (former MK Ba-Gad's remark was only one out of many similar remarks made by these Orthodox politicians.) When a reporter asks the Chabad follower-journalist why he failed to invite non-religious politicians like the heads of Likud and Meretz, the Chabad follower-politician answers in a condescending manner.
Should the IBA even have a state-sponsored Orthodox synagogue? I don't think so, in part because I oppose any state-sponsored religious activity and in part because this synagogue is particularly Orthodox. Israel has Jews who are religious but not Orthodox. Should the IBA therefore have an egalitarian synagogue, as well? A Karaite beit knesset? A prayer room for Sabbateans?
These questions are valid for all the various state ministries and arms that have state-sponsored synagogues, but they are especially valid when dealing with the IBA which, after all, is expected to accurately report the news for all Israelis, whether or not their representatives were invited to the IBA's state-sponsored Torah dedication ceremony.