Article - Broadcasting from Jerusalem
VOICE OF ISRAEL 50TH ANNIVERSARY
1986 marked the 50th anniversary of Hebrew broadcasts in the Holy Land. Though some early sporadic attempts were made - notably in the early 1930s during the Levant Fair - it was only on March 30th, 1936 that the words "Kol Yerushalayim" (the Voice of Jerusalem) following the English and Arabic equivalents, were heard on the air, starting an unbroken tradition of broadcasting.
That Voice of Jerusalem was a government department, officially known as the Palestine Broadcasting Service, in which Hebrew programs were part of a trilingual station. Eventually, two networks evolved, one combining English and Arabic broadcasts and the other combining English and Hebrew broadcasts.
In March 1939 the clandestine broadcasts of the IZL (Irgun Zevai Leumi), "Kol Zion Halochemet" (the Voice of Fighting Zion) went on the air, probably setting a world precedent. A year later the current name of the Israel national radio "Kol Yisrael" (the Voice of Israel), was used for the first time - it was the broadcasting station of the "Haganah."
"The Voice of Jerusalem", operated by the British Mandatory Administration, added a dimension to cultural life in the pre-state "Yishuv" (Jewish Community) and its budding Hebrew language culture. Broadcasts for children and schools, a variety of musical programs, an orchestra that still exists (now the "Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra of the Israel Broadcasting Authority"), programs in various areas of culture, scholarship and traditions, radio drama and adaptations of literary works - all these were already part of a rich broadcasting diet in those days. As for current affairs programs, including news, alienation set in after an initial period of having a common cause in fighting the Nazis. The growing rift between the Mandatory Administration and the Yishuv resulted in diminishing credibility of the official broadcasts. It was then that the clandestine broadcasting stations filled the information gap using a station run by LHI ("Lochamei Herut Yisrael"), which joined the field in 1941, first under the same name as the IZL station and later as "Kol Hamachteret Haivrit" (the Voice of the Hebrew Underground). The informative role of the clandestine stations became absolutely vital in the early days of the War of Independence, the population being dependent on them - mainly those of the Haganah - for its ability to follow the progress of the war from its own point of view, as a nascent nation at war, struggling for its life.
The central broadcasting station of the Haganah, which operated, in addition, a small number of regional stations, was taken over by the Israeli army, in order to provide, at first, military programs from the state-operated "Kol Yisrael"; it later became the army broadcasting station, "Galei Zahal."
"Kol Yisrael" came into existence with a flourish on the very day the State was born, with a live transmission of the public proclamation by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and the ceremony of signing the Declaration of Independence.
At first, short-wave broadcasts were handled by a separate station "Kol Zion Lagolah" (the Voice of Zion to the Diaspora), run by the World Zionist Organization, but it merged after a couple of years with Kol Yisrael as its overseas broadcasting operation.
As mentioned initially, broadcasts were run by the government (at first by the Ministry of the Interior and later by the Prime Minister's Office). In the summer of 1965, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) came into being legally as an independent public corporation.
In the late 1960s a new dimension was added to broadcasting by General Television, which had been preceded by instructional broadcasts for schools, run by the Ministry of Education. General Television offered its first public broadcast on Independence Day 1968, transmitting live the military parade in Jerusalem. At first, TV was organized by the Prime Minister's Office, but during the following year it became part of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Faced by the challenge of TV, radio had to find its place anew. It did so by exploiting its two natural points of advantage; the relative simplicity of operation which made possible a variety of networks that offered satisfaction to specific audiences, and the agility to provide immediate news coverage almost at once. Broadcasters followed closely in the footsteps of the soldiers during Israel's wars, some of them being killed in action.
Radio is, of course, without peers as a means of communicating with listeners all over the world, Jews and non-Jews. Where no Jewish media of communication exists, Israel broadcasts may appear as the only source of information about Israel and the only link between those communities and the Jewish people as a whole. Arab broadcasts, apart from their role inside the country, are singularly important as a means of projecting Israel's image and point of view to the neighboring countries for advancement of understanding and peace.
At present Israel has one television network, comprising both the broadcasts of the Ministry of Education and those of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and seven radio networks – six operated by the Israel Broadcasting Authority and one by the army.
The stamp depicts a microphone on a background of the map of Israel. The tab inscription is: " ... To make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer Sheva to Dan ... " (2 Chronicles 30: 5).