The article discusses the political and public debates in Israel over the appropriateness of a military radio station in a democratic state. The Israeli station was established in 1950 to assist the defense forces in absorbing and educating new Jewish immigrants, but later developed to become one of Israel’s major media outlets. Previously unstudied documents reveal that the initiative to launch the station was met with criticism from its early stages; concerns about letting the army run a radio station without public oversight have been raised repeatedly ever since. This research project illustrates the benefits of media historiography as an effective prism for studying wider aspects of societies in which various media organizations operate. It adds, as well, to the historiography of military radio stations around the world.
Israel’s Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) has been broadcasting for sixty years. Unlike military stations around the world, Galei Tzahal has always transmitted from the centre of the country, with programming aimed at the civilian population. This article examines how Galei Tzahal became a leading force in Israeli broadcasting and news coverage. Among other points, the article explores how military broadcasts, which are ostensibly foreign to the democratic experience, have become a symbol of pluralism, journalistic freedom, and the social and cultural avant-garde in Israel.