March 7, 2014
by YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 05/03/2014
In the Ukraine crisis, much more that is also apparently not fit to print, or discussed in depth, as far as the various media outlets are concerned.
The Crimean affair, a 21st century version of the “Great Game” period of rivalry and conflict some 150 years ago, is playing out dramatically. The Israeli public is exposed now in stark fashion to what is happening outside our region. The drama, the battle of wits between the West and the Kremlin, the weakness of President Barack Obama and his team, are the topics discussed by pundits and mavens. But only one newspaper, Israel Hayom, has headlined one of the obvious implications of this sordid story.
In 1994, the world, led by the Western powers, signed a document assuring the newborn Ukrainian republic that Crimea is part and parcel of Ukraine. This did not come easily and the Ukrainian government was required to give up all nuclear weapons in its possession. The Budapest Memorandum was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma and promised to uphold the territorial integrity of the Ukraine, with its Article One affirming: “the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”
Today, 20 years later, this international document seems to be worthless. An international agreement which is not backed by solid interests which can assure that it is kept will not hold water. This, of course, has serious implications on the ongoing negotiations of Israel and its neighbors.
The threats directed at Israel, made recently by EU President Martin Schultz, Secretary of State John Kerry and now President Obama, that it will be isolated unless it signs a peace agreement would seem rather meaningless in view of Ukraine’s current experience.
Signing an agreement seems not to guarantee any security either, especially when a crisis develops. But such news is not fit to print for it does not jibe with the politically correct notion that only a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state side by side of Israel can guarantee Israel’s future as a Jewish and Democratic state.
On the morning following Netanyahu’s recent meeting with Obama, Arieh Golan of Kol Yisrael posed many questions to Minister Yuval Steinitz. But Golan did not relate to the Crimean affair. Is Golan’s worldview so narrow as to prevent him from asking questions such as: “Minister Steinitz, don’t you think that the recent events in the Crimea should put a damper on Israel’s willingness to sign international agreements?” Steinitz was not asked whether Israel would learn from this experience that, as in the events preceding the 1967 Six Day War, international agreements remain worthless and that Israel must base its policies on its own ability to defend them, rather than expect other countries to do the job for it.
THERE IS much more that is also apparently not fit to print, or discussed in depth, as far as the various media outlets are concerned.
Consider human rights. When Human Rights Watch criticizes Israel, we all get to know about it. But when HRW is exposed as being anti-Semitic by UN Watch, nobody finds out. In fact, most people in Israel have never heard of Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, who struggles valiantly and successfully to expose the truth about human rights as practiced in the United Nations and other so-called civil rights NGOs.
In December, 2012, Neuer made it a point to criticize HRW for having Richard Falk, a well documented anti-Semite, on its board.
HRW responded by sacking Falk. Neuer’s struggle to assure that the UN Human Rights Commission would not be controlled by the world’s dictatorships, who have anything but human rights on their agenda, has been quite successful, as also reported in The Jerusalem Post but hardly elsewhere in Israel.
Richard Falk is finally ending his tenure as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Quite a few Israel-bashers of the Phyllis Bennis ilk (Bennis is quoted as saying, “The Palestinians, they were not Nazis, they were not responsible for the Holocaust, but they were the ones who paid the price”), were hopeful to get the coveted job. But, this was not to be; as reported by UN Watch the nominating board disqualified five such candidates.
Now, one might think that our press, which knows to ask tough questions, especially when Israel is on the receiving side of international criticism, would find that such success is not only worthy of some headlines, but also begs some serious questions.
For example, where is the Foreign Ministry in all of this? Why has it been asleep all these years, why is it that only an independent NGO such as UN Watch struggles against these iniquities? A topic which is very much “in” today is the imminent threat of BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – by a variety of entities abroad. This threat is hailed as a reason why Israel must leave Judea and Samaria. But when NGO Monitor exposes the sources funding these threats, it is ignored.
No one asks the various European ambassadors about their countries’ role in contributing to these anti-Semitic activities.
The representatives of these European countries who are funding what can only be described as subversive activity to undermine Israel’s democracy are treated with fawning respect.
Another well-kept secret is the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an NGO dealing with Arab affairs in our neighborhood.
Iran is high up on the list of topics discussed in Israel’s media. Yet does anyone here know that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is a Holocaust denier? The Iranian foreign minister tried to deny this allegation, but MEMRI has documented that Khamenei stated the following, in Persian on February 7, 2006: “A very important topic, one which lays to shame the Western culture which prides itself with the freedom of expression, the freedom that they always pride themselves with, it does not allow anyone of them to have doubts about the myth of the killing of Jews, known as the Holocaust. On this topic there is no freedom of expression.”
Is this not of interest to the Israeli public? Shouldn’t information such as this be more prominently publicized in our media? Should not the correspondents based in Washington, London or Berlin be pressing the leaders of those countries negotiating with Iran with some serious questions? And shouldn’t this be done with the same intensity of the foreign media’s pressure on our ministers? Where are our local reporters, such as Ilana Dayan, who confront Israeli officials and politicians with tough questions? Balance and pluralism in the media is not restricted to the number of people appearing, or the social makeup of the various presenters. It is also to be viewed in terms of what is not being asked, and what is withheld from the public.
By YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 26/02/2014
The station has invested much effort in putting together an impressive cast of people on the various programs.
People from all over the world look at Israel and see innovation written everywhere. Israelis tend to excel, especially when it comes to science and technology.
Although the World Cup in football has not yet been won, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to a few Israelis and Israel even made it to first place in the Eurovision song contest.
Israel also has a radio station which excels: the 103 FM regional radio station broadcasting for the greater Tel Aviv area.
The station has invested much effort in putting together an impressive cast of people on the various programs.
These include Ben Caspit, Gabi Gazit, Ron Kofman, Natan Zehavi, Advocate Yoram Sheftel, Varda Raziel-Jacont and the “comedians” Shai (Goldstein) and Dror (Rafael). These people are outstanding representatives of a model of radio programming especially tailored for the Tel Aviv-area population.
Raziel-Jacont is a good example. According to her biography as it appears on the 103 FM website, she is a psychologist who is also an avid lover of classical music. Her claim to fame originates most naturally from her psychological advice program aired on 103 FM radio weekdays at 4 pm.
As reported by the Calcalist news site, on October 9 last year, her programs were suspended for two weeks by the Second Authority for TV and Radio (SATR). In one of her programs (and this was not the best of the lot), she read from a letter describing a listener who was in extreme mental stress, was considering suicide and requested Zakont’s help. Her answer was that the letter was manipulative – and she went on to explain that there are circumstances in which suicide is legitimate.
Another listener, who said she was suffering from sexual abuse, was told to date many men and seek multiple sexual experiences as the best way to deal with her trauma. And all this sage advice is dispensed at 4 p.m., when most children and adolescents are asleep.
In another instance, she supported the use of physical force against children. The present-day generation of parents was described as “the cream and banana generation.”
Anyone interested is invited to the 103 FM webpage which provides abstracts of her wonderful programs.
The fact that she was suspended for two weeks presumably only increased her ratings. In any case, one cannot discern any fundamental change in the quality of her programming following the suspension.
Obtaining harsh sentences from the SATR is almost daily business at the station. It obviously makes for good publicity.
Kofman is one of the station’s sports commentators.
On July 9, 2012, he had a most exciting conversation with Ben Caspit, moderator of a light news program.
This conversation included epithets such as “zero,” “rag,” “journalist whore,” “bedroom spokesperson,” “belong in the gutter,” “animal” and more. The SATR was unhappy but did not go beyond a “tsk, tsk” admonishment.
FM 103, it seems, was delighted; on its website, under sportscasting, the first item is a link to this specific instance of excellence in media discourse.
Zehavi, though, is the station’s star. His language managed to prod SATR into actually fining the station NIS 80,000 at the end of 2012. In January 2014, as a result of a verbal attack on MK Israel Eichler, he was the cause for a NIS 69,900 fine on the station. One of his most important achievements is his running feud with Sheftel, a colleague at the station he describes as “the disgusting radio presenter.”
Zehavi is an extreme left-winger, Sheftel, an extreme right-winger. Both agree on one thing, namesly that it is good business to curse each other in public.
Zehavi is a very sensitive person. He is known for slapping lawsuits on people, especially those who have the nerve to attack him verbally. After all, freedom of speech should not be overdone.
Shai and Dror are a model couple. Their past is rich.
They could be described as malefactors, offenders, miscreants and more, for a court of law found them guilty of libel against fellow journalist Matti Golan, which the judge termed “a crusade” against him. They do fit in well with the groundbreaking atmosphere of 103 FM.
In one of their programs, Dror Rafael informed listeners that he had easily managed to pass a police breath test while driving under the influence. The program received another slap on the wrist from SATR’s ombudsman, but no fines or suspension.
This couple is a model of good behavior for children. In the best tradition, they show that the best way to assert oneself is to do so at the expense of the weak. What’s better than to make jokes about deaf people on the day dedicated to the deaf population? This took place on May 25, 2010. The response of 103 FM to complaints was that if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.
Only two weeks ago, we reported on their unabashed foul treatment of Sapir Sabah, the teenager who complained against her teacher’s extreme left-wing propaganda voiced in class. This too, probably was not well received at 103 FM, since the SATR has not decided to fine the station for the infraction.
Radio 103 FM has full backing from the Israeli press council. Paragraph 17 of the ethics code deals with outside employment of journalists. It states that: “A journalist shall not engage in any occupation, work, service, public relations, advertising and soliciting advertisements which may give rise to the suspicion or the appearance of a conflict of interest or of misleading the public.”
Especially in view of this clause, Gazit and Zehavi appear in various radio advertisements on issues that might at times be broadcast on their own program.
Former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, the president of the press council, knows of this practice.
Does she take any measures? No.
Is this good business? Yes, if profits are the only important criterion. Do we have the right to demand that also on the airwaves, morality and the spirit of the law be obeyed? Don’t the residents of the greater Tel Aviv area deserve something better?
February 20, 2014
by YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 19/02/2014
It is considered legitimate to criticize not only public behavior but, in Israel, also the private lives of those concerned.
Criticism is one of the most basic and prevalent themes in so many of society’s activities. Literary critics are hailed for their incisive comments, even though they can destroy careers. Art critics can increase multifold the prices of paintings.
Movie and theater critics can assist actors to achieve fame with Oscars and Emmys. In the academic world, publishing a research article requires peer review, which is ideally “based on objectivity, balance and fairness, leading to measured, constructive, critical discourse” as Jo Brewis, a professor at the University of Leicester, wrote last July in the prestigious Times Higher Education magazine.
Criticism is an essential part of the media. This includes criticizing politics and politicians, government bureaucracy, industrial tycoons, sports players and their managers and many other areas of life and accomplishment.
It is considered legitimate to criticize not only public behavior but, in Israel, also the private lives of those concerned, including their spouses, children and relatives, even if not directly involved. Their dress, their relatives and friends are often included, if only to make the story more sensational and dramatic.
Nevertheless, the act of criticizing the media itself draws not only personal ire from the reporters or columnists directly involved, but a virtual closing-up of the ranks of colleagues.
Together, they proclaim that such criticism is not legitimate, since they perceive that it strikes at the very core of the democratic state and its institutions.
A very perverse reaction to media criticism was given on January 29 by Ilan Lukatz, culture correspondent for Channel 2 television.
As part of a discussion on the case of teacher Adam Verte (the extreme left-wing teacher) and his pupil Sapir Sabah (who rebelled against his brainwashing), he was asked on his Facebook page “how many right-wingers are there at your station?” His answer was “I won’t provide you with a list of names, obviously, but there are rightists.
There are, for sure, more leftists, but that’s because there’s a correlation between IQ and leftism and senior media people usually [possess] above-average [intelligence].”
After being roundly criticized by many, he attempted to backtrack, noting that there are right-wing geniuses such as the late Professor Yuval Neeman, but he remained true to his thesis claiming that the statistical evidence is that smart people tend to belong to the political Left. He was reprimanded by TV Channel 2’s management, but the evidence of his imperious, self-proclaimed superiority, and its reflection on his colleagues, cannot be ignored. This is elitism at work. Oded Ben- Ami, the former army spokesman turned TV moderator, concurred with Lukatz. Referring to the media he said: “We are three percent [of the people] but we are the high quality.”
The Haaretz caricaturist Amos Biderman displayed his own form of “intelligence.” He sketched the aforementioned high schooler Sapir Sabah for his paper on Tuesday. Sabah had entered her school’s teachers’ room to take a picture of those gathered to express support for her teacher Verte. Pushed out, she made headlines, again.
Biderman portrayed her with a sub-machine gun, spraying the building and humans with bullets. Intelligent? imaginative? creative? Is not media criticism necessary? Last Sunday evening, at Beit Sokolov, the headquarters of the Israeli Journalists Association, three media criticism prizes were awarded.
They were sponsored by Kenneth and Nira Abramowitz and organized by Israel’s Media Watch. On the podium were Dr. Meir Rosenne, Dr. Dalia Zelikovich, General (Res.) Oren Shachor, poet Erez Biton and Ambassador Zalman Shoval. The ceremony was moderated by one of us (Professor Eli Pollak).
Two of the awardees, Guy Bechor and Dror Eydar, possess doctorates. The intelligence quotient represented was, in our humble estimation, no less than that of the friends of Ilan Lukatz. In contrast though, the cultural breadth and pluralism to be found at this ceremony was much more than the standard fare provided by our media.
The keynote address was given by Communication Minister Gilad Erdan. He bemoaned the inability of the public to receive comprehensive, multi-faceted information. In his words: “in Israel, this reality does not come about.”
“We know well,” he continued, “that many sections of Israel’s society suffer exclusion within the media as well as insufficient coverage, stereotyping, biased reporting, and I intend to provide a response to the lack of media balance.” He also proclaimed: “We will go for a more relevant broadcasting… that will reflect all parts of Israel’s society.”
The winner of the prize for Quality Economic Journalism, Elia Tsipori, was introduced by a previous director-general of the Treasury, Shmuel Slavin, as a critical writer with no favoritism or fear of pressure.
Tsipori himself did the unthinkable, declaring that “I have learned that journalists are not holy nor messiahs and we even, at times, exaggerate and err.” Lukatz could learn something here. In his words of thanks, Guy Bechor, who shared this year’s Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism, described our reality as being “imagined,” continuing, “and the imagined becomes the reality and all this through the pretext of it being media. In Israel’s mainstream media the bad is over-emphasized whereas the good is underplayed.”
Bechor accused large sections of our media of engaging in spreading fear and manipulating the mindset of the public. The object of this campaign, he noted, is not to inform people but rather to control them. His examples included the link between Iran’s nuclear development and the need for a diplomatic arrangement; the supposed demographic threat from Arabs; that the boycott campaign is increasing; and that Israel is the main problem in the region.
He further charged that Israel’s media, in part, is creating and cooking up many of these supposed threats. They do this not only in what they report but in what they do not include in the news.
“In the Israeli media,” he exclaimed, “the bad is good, and the good is bad. The bad is always emphasized while the good is hidden or suppressed.” And he concluded with his vision of “the best pluralism than can possibly be… a deep media that inspires the media consumer, and develops his knowledge.”
Dror Eydar, who shared the prize with Bechor, revealed that he never had intended to become a media figure, preferring music composition and writing books. But, as he explained, “ever since I adopted a political stance, I have suffered from being silenced…and despite the fact that the parties I voted for received a majority of the votes of the public, there was no commensurate expression for this in the media. We are not concerned with the press but are in the midst of a cultural war.”
Perhaps in sharp contrast to the cheap and self-denigrating Biderman of Haaretz, the ceremony was accompanied by cartoonist Shai Charka, of the Makor Rishon newspaper. His theme was dogs. After all, the media considers itself the watchdog of democracy. His cartoons of dogs were varied. There was the poodle, there was the dog leading the human and the human being led by the dog. The satire was sharp but in good taste.
Indeed, the ceremony exemplified the high quality and depth of some of the outstanding personalities within our media.
February 13, 2014
Media comment: We still need awards
bBy YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 12/02/2014
The Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism, graciously sponsored by Kenneth and Nira Abramowitz and initiated by Israel’s Media Watch, will be awarded this coming Sunday.
The Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism, graciously sponsored by Kenneth and Nira Abramowitz and initiated by Israel’s Media Watch, will be awarded this coming Sunday (February 16) to Dr. Dror Eydar and Dr. Guy Bechor, with the Israeli Prize for Quality Economic Journalism going to Elia Tsipori, deputy chief editor since 2006 of the Globes daily newspaper.
By chance, the same week as these prizes are awarded, two members of the Ethics Committee of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Public Council will resign. Dr. Motti Neiger and Prof. Akiba Cohen exited the committee in protest against the appointment of Prof. Asa Kasher as its new chairman.
Neiger is head of the Netanya College Communications School and Cohen, a professor emeritus, taught at Tel Aviv University and is currently on the staff of the Emek Yizrael Academic College. They were upset that former judge Bilha Cahana is no longer the committee’s chairman.
We already related to a major alteration in the IBA’s ethics code in our October 23, 2013 column; Cahana sought to revamp the old guidelines, known as the Nakdi document, which declared that the IBA does not have “a voice of its own.”
Instead, she decreed, together with Neiger and Cohen, that journalists are permitted to make personal comments on news programs and provide the public with their sagacious insight. They considered the adage that views and news don’t mix to be outdated.
Cahane’s committee noted that it “was impressed by the IBA’s journalists’ understanding of their job as the watchdog of democracy, therefore it is obligatory to give them the necessary tools to be critical and express their opinions under certain conditions.”
The IBA plenum ratified this fundamental change in a vote of eight to two; less than a third of the members actually voted. However, there were misgivings among the professional management of the IBA, as the new guidelines would replace the IBA’s doctrine of objectivity with “the rhetoric of objectivity.”
Ethicist Professor Asa Kasher shares these concerns. Kasher holds the Laura Schwarz-Kipp Chair in Professional Ethics and Philosophy of Practice at Tel Aviv University, received the 2000 Israel Prize for Philosophy and, among his many positions, is the vice chairman of the steering committee of the Ethics Center of Jerusalem. He wrote, “I never accepted the cliché that the press is ‘democracy’s watchdog’ and I have no basis to assume that the media is managed by persons who know best what is democracy, what should happen in a democracy and how to guard it…. Many journalists today are known for their shallowness, their lack of grasp of the matters on which they report and among other things, their kowtowing to their sources.”
His view, according to Cohen and Neiger, is a “targeted elimination” of the committee’s work.
We made no secret that in our view, it was the committee’s decision to alter the code that actually was an elimination of one of the basic assurances of objectivity and professional reporting. If anything, Cahana’s committee was instituting a very undemocratic procedure, elevating journalists to a position of undeserved supremacy in managing the public discourse.
Just like any other public sector, the media needs criticism, and more so when state-sponsored broadcasting in involved. This is the fundamental reasoning underlying the Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism. It is in the public interest to support and encourage those in the media who uphold ethical and professional standards and do not serve narrow interests – political, economic and personal – but rather the public and the media itself.
Media ethics have improved considerably this past year at the army radio station. It is the only major media purveyor that does not hesitate to admit mistakes. But its attitude just accentuates the lack of improvement in media ethics elsewhere.
Major issues are not afforded the correct balance and unfair and biased interventions are too often the norm, as repeatedly discussed in this column.
While today’s media is not as one-sided as it once was – the print media having changed radically – nevertheless, the electronic and broadcasting media cannot be relied upon. The public microphone is usurped to become a personal one in too many instances.
Employing undemocratic means through media dominance will only deepen the rifts among us.
We all should raise our voices to prevent this.
THE PRIZE winners this year exemplify that it is possible to be professional, ethical and considerate of media consumers.
Dror Eydar’s writing reflects a “thinking outside the box” style.
His columns are uncompromising in their treatment of government, economics, politics and the media as well. As an independent actor, he is outside the branja, the clique of Israel’s Left-liberal media celebrities.
He has attacked influential elements in Israel for their post-Zionist positions.
Eydar is not the cultural icon of the mainstream media he deserves to be. He began to publish in the mid-nineties. He edited Nativ, the now defunct bi-monthly and published columns in the Makor Rishon and Haaretz newspapers. He finally found his journalistic home at the Israel Hayom newspaper, for which has been writing from its very inception.
Bechor has frequently noted the impact of negative journalism on Israel. With careful, well thoughtout and courageous writing, Bechor has strongly criticized media manipulation, the uniform, unimaginative thinking which dominates it, and its excessive power. He has consistently insisted that the public has a right to receive objective, democratic and unbiased reporting and analysis.
An orientalist, jurist and historian in academic life, he was the first Arab affairs reporter at the IDF Army Radio station (from 1980 to 1984). He was one of the founders of the (now defunct) daily newspaper Hadashot, heading its Middle East desk between the years 1984 and 1991. He then held the same position at the Ha’aretz newspaper, until 1998. He is a lecturer and commentator on Middle East affairs in the media worldwide and has published seven books in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
This is also the eighth year that an additional award is given for economic journalism. The Israeli Prize for Quality Economic Journalism will be presented to Elia Tsipori, deputy chief editor since 2006 of the Globes daily newspaper. Tsipori joined Globes when he was 21 and from 1994 until 2006 was the editor of the paper’s finance section.
Tsipori’s writing is critical, impartial and free of political and business pressures. He separates his private opinion and his professional interpretation. He knows how to admit when his criticism was mistaken – a rare trait on the Israeli media scene. His substantive writing has significantly impacted the economy of Israel.
Arguably the most notable of his accomplishments is the insistent reporting with which he forced the various Israeli pension funds to reduce their management fees from over two percent to less than 1%; a saving of at least NIS 1 billion per year for Israeli citizens. Rewarding him with the prize is one way of publicly thanking a person whose efforts have rewarded practically all working Israelis.
We are proud that there are journalists such as these among us and that we can honor them.
February 6, 2014
by YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 05/02/2014
Our media has made its choice, and not only when it comes to the negotiations between Israel and the United States.
US President John F. Kennedy’s 1957 book Profiles in Courage enumerated three “terrible pressures which discourage acts of political courage,” and that “drive a [politician] to abandon or subdue his conscience.” The first is criticism for lack of forthright principles. A second stems from the desire to be reelected, which “exercises a strong brake on independent courage.”
The third “is the pressure of his constituency, the interest groups, the organized letter writers, the economic blocs and even the average voter.” In the book, Kennedy dealt with eight politicians who felt that what they were doing was right and paid a steep political price for their actions.
There are pundits in Israel’s media who studied Kennedy’s book and are calling upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be “courageous.” They ask him to disassociate from his ideological roots, from his promises to his constituency, and do what is “right”: accept the dictates of the US government. This “courage” means dividing Jerusalem and uprooting hundreds of thousands of citizens from their homes. The pinnacle of courage is to take a huge risk for the sake of “peace.”
There are other definitions of courage, however, which are somehow missing in our media’s discourse. Courage also means to be fearless. For example, courage might mean not fearing the boycott threats of Secretary of State John Kerry and other European countries. It might mean not fearing international pressure aimed at preventing imposition of Israeli law in the disputed territories.
Courage could also mean the willingness to face the challenge of a large Arab minority within the State of Israel.
Our media has made its choice, and not only when it comes to the negotiations between Israel and the United States. Its misunderstanding of the word can be measured by its attitude to people who actually are fearless, and willing to face the consequences of adhering to their beliefs even in the face of media pressure.
A fitting example is that of Sapir Sabah, a 17-year old student in the ORT high school in Tivon. Sabah complained in a letter to Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron about her teacher, Adam Werte. In her words: “During most of the lessons I face difficulties. Adam makes sure to emphasize his political opinions.
He explains that he is an extreme left-winger, that from his point of view our state is not at all the state of the Jews but that of the Palestinians and that we the Jews have no business being here. He stresses that the IDF acts more cruelly and violently than all other armies. He explains that the IDF is immoral and that he is ashamed of the army in our state.” She further accused him of publicly ridiculing her.
Sabah is a fighter, and brave. She complained to the school directors, but this did not help.
Consider the pressure that this young woman faced. She has to pass matriculation exams, is at the mercy of her teachers and yet dares to voice her opinion and open criticism.
Our media treated her despicably. Ben Caspit and Hagai Golan “interviewed” her on the 103 FM radio station. No, it was not an interview but rather a lesson, similar to those Sabah had to hear from Werte. Caspit did not let her express her opinions but tried to instill in her his perverted values. In his words: “he [Werte] is in distress, you are violent!” It was so bad that Sabah did the unthinkable in the eyes of Caspit, and discontinued the interview.
Caspit was not alone. On January 20, Oded Ben-Ami interviewed her on his 6 p.m. Channel 2 TV program alongside a friend of Werte, Ram Cohen, the principal of the Alterman High School in Tel Aviv. At that time, it still seemed that Werte would be fired. So Ben-Ami asked: “You do not retract what you wrote since your letter is the cause for Werte’s dismissal?” Ending his interview with Sabah and as a preamble to his congenial interview with Cohen, he quotes from a letter written by Sabah’s fellow students, who claimed that the atmosphere in Werte’s lessons was congenial, giving the immediate impression that Sabah was way out on a limb. He did not have the courtesy to let her respond to this accusation, even though she stayed on air.
In his amicable discussion with Cohen, Ben- Ami makes it clear that the “ease” with which Werte was to be dismissed was just not right.
At the end he again turns to Sabah and asks: “After you listened to Cohen, don’t you think that you went too far?” Sabah, with poise, responded that no, she didn’t, and also explained how she was encouraged by many for her actions.
As of the writing of this article we are informed that Sabah is not accepting the decision of ORT to let Werte continue to teach teenagers how to hate the army. She is appealing it.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A different kind of interview took place on the same morning on the Orly and Guy program on Channel 10. The moderators, Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz, took pains to make Sabah feel comfortable, asked her questions – but let her answer. Their other guest was Professor Nimrod Aloni, head of the Institute for Advanced Education at the Kibbutz College, or Seminar Hakibbutzim, and an outspoken left-winger.
The discussion that ensued was civilized and exemplified by their first question to him: “Had a teacher exhorted his students that we must invade area A [in the West Bank] or Gaza, the three of us would have raised an outcry – ‘how can a teacher talk this way’?” Ben-Ami could learn something from Orly and Guy and others who did a decent job of interviewing Sabah.
The absurdity of the media response to Sabah’s challenge was exemplified, ironically, by the IDF radio station itself. Thursday of last week, Yaron Vilensky on the 5 p.m. news magazine interviewed Werte’s lawyer, Michael Sefard, and then Sabah. Sefard is an experienced attorney. One might have thought that therefore he would be presented with tough questions. His interview lasted four minutes, and he was asked four bland questions by Vilensky: What was in the hearing of Werte? What were your arguments against his dismissal? It is said that a teacher cannot proclaim in a school that the IDF is an immoral army? Did you get an impression from the panel at the hearing what they would decide? In contrast, the 17-year old Sabah was grilled.
Her “interview” lasted just over three minutes, during which she was asked eight questions, some of them lengthy. Vilensky was not very interested in her answers; his purpose, it would seem, was to discredit her – a young woman who will be joining the army within a year.
Does the army encourage, through its sponsorship of Galatz Radio, people like Werte? Our “profiles in courage” will be continued, there are many more people who have demonstrated courageous behavior, facing a biased, unfair and even vicious media, out to make sure that the politically incorrect opinion in their eyes is suppressed. “Courage” is a foreign word to these people.
January 30, 2014
By YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 30/01/2014
Especially good and positive news is repressed in innovative Israel, while unjustified, even anti-Semitic criticism of Israel is encouraged.
Catherine Ashton is generally not well liked in Israel. In the aftermath of the murders in Toulouse, France, two years ago, Ashton said: “When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.” At the time, she was roundly denounced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and even by many in Israel’s media, for likening the Toulouse atrocity to events in Gaza.
Yet Catherine Ashton is the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or in short, the EU’s foreign minister. She carries the beacon of Palestinian rights in the world over – enthusiastically. Her pressure to boycott Israeli products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights jives with a good many reporters in Israel. Her latest success in banishing Ariel University from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scientific program was interpreted in sections of the Israeli press as a welcome stage of the increasing isolation Israel faces due to the “settlements” the media dislikes.
Two weeks ago, in the aftermath of Israel’s announcement that it would allow construction of 1,400 new homes in territories east of the “Green Line,” Ashton repeated her views: “The settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make the twostate solution impossible.”
Israel’s press preferred to avoid confronting Ashton over her discriminatory attitude toward Israel; as this paper has published, the EU supports “illegal settlements” in Cyprus and Morocco. Instead, the media prefers to at best ignore her biases, and at worst, as in Haaretz, to commend her for her foresight.
Just two days ago she again demonstrated her biases.
On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, her press release read, “Today the international community remembers the victims of the Holocaust.
We honor every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history.” She did not see fit to mention specifically the term “Jews.” As reported by Ulrich Sahm, a German reporter who strongly defends Israel, to the chagrin of his country’s mainstream media, the statement was then changed. The words “six million” were added, but Ashton even then could not bring herself to utter the word “Jews.”
Ashton’s statements were reported in the Israel Hayom newspaper, the INN news website and in a Haaretz blog. That’s it. But there was enough time to interview Caspar Velkamp, the Dutch ambassador to Israel, on Tuesday on the Galatz radio station. The ambassador used the opportunity to further attempt to convince Israelis that they must make the tough decisions to reach what he describes as a peace accord with the Palestinians.
The Galatz reporter, Iddo Benbaji, did not attempt to get a response from the EU’s representative in Israel to Ashton’s remarks, nor did he ask the ambassador any questions concerning the current rise of anti-Semitism in Holland.
Israel hosted an important guest this January: Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Israeli media’s repressive attitude was very clear. As reported in The Jerusalem Post, when asked about the Israeli settlements Harper could not have given a clearer answer: “When I’m in Israel I’m asked to single out Israel, when I’m in the Palestinian Authority I’m asked to single out Israel, and half the other places around the world you ask me to single out Israel.
“No one asked me there [in Ramallah] to single out the Palestinian Authority for any criticism in terms of governance or human rights or anything else.”
Haaretz’s Barak Ravid was livid with Harper for his enlightened stance. Instead of highlighting that an important leader in the Western world is defending Israel, his stories were headlined: “Visiting Canadian prime minister supports Israeli self-repression. Harper’s Knesset speech was devoid of criticism of the Netanyahu government’s policy. Harper gave the impression that he is more a friend of Netanyahu than a friend of Israel.”
Compare this characteristic attitude with Israeli media’s overflowing enthusiasm for every hiccup emanating from their favorite New York Times journalist, Thomas Friedman. B’tzelem, with its outrageous false reports, gets more attention from the Israeli media than Harper did.
Harper is not unique. Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop came to Israel for the Sharon funeral. In a January 15 interview with The Times of Israel’s Raphael Ahren, she was asked whether she agrees or disagrees with the near-universal view that Israeli settlements anywhere beyond the 1967 lines are illegal under international law.
She replied: “I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.”
She also added: “The issue of settlements is absolutely and utterly fundamental to the negotiations that are under way and I think it’s appropriate that we give those negotiations every chance of succeeding.”
Her positive stance toward Israel and her utter rejection of boycotts and other anti-Semitic actions against Israel stood out like a beacon, when compared with Ashton.
The Israel public was left in the dark. Benbaji did not interview her, nor did Aryeh Golan from Kol Israel radio, nor did any of the major TV stations. It would seem that there are news editors who believe that it is not healthy for the Israeli public to know that there are countries that actually do not buy the Palestinian narrative.
Another story that was spiked this past week had to do with the ongoing theme of “price tag” events. As reported on January 24 at INN news, Arabs were caught live on the camera of the Tatzpit News Agency destroying olive trees and leaving behind fabricated evidence which would connect the act to “price tag” action. This also occurred last October. But Israel’s mainstream media suppressed it.
Instead of understanding that the issue of “price tag” actions can be misused not only by Israelis but also by Israel’s enemies, the media will excoriate “price tag” actions by Jews but will refuse to react similarly toward those who try to further increase enmity between Jews and Arabs from the other side.
Repression is harmful, from any side. Israel’s right wing is not free of such actions either. Just recently, the right-wing B’sheva weekly refused to publish an article by journalist Yedidya Meir which criticized Ze’ev Hever, known as “Zambish,” because of his words at the funeral of Ariel Sharon.
Zambish did not expressly criticize Sharon for the expulsion of Jews from their homes and so created the impression among some people that he found Sharon’s actions excusable.
Repression may be the norm at too many news outlets. A news company will repress adverse reports concerning a heavy advertiser.
It will tend not to publish op-ed articles which disagree with its editorial stance. But in innovative Israel, repression has taken a dimension of its own. Especially good and positive news is repressed, while unjustified and even anti-Semitic criticism of Israel is encouraged.
January 23, 2014
by YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK, 22/01/2014
Micha Friedman is a veteran Israeli journalist whose professional media career started in the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Micha Friedman is a veteran Israeli journalist.
Born in Israel 65 years ago, Friedman’s military service was in combat units. His professional media career started in the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Thirty years ago he moved to the Galatz army radio station where he anchored the station’s premiere morning news show, Good Morning Israel, which was broadcast between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. In addition, he took part in numerous TV programs. Perhaps most notable was his three-year stint at the Educational TV station where he hosted its weekly media criticism and review show, Tik Tikshoret (Media File).
In a column published here on November 28, 2012, we discussed Friedman’s career at Galatz. We highlighted in detail his unabashed extreme left-wing opinions, expressed in many ways during his work at the station. We noted that he does not consider Israel’s soldiers “our” soldiers, preferring to be “neutral.” In an interview with the parent of a new conscript to the army he tried, via manipulative questioning, to instill doubt about the need to serve in an army whose soldiers face life-threatening situations – rather odd for an anchor on an army radio station.
On December 20, 2012, in an interview with Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, who complained about the UN ’s singling out Israeli construction in Jerusalem while ignoring the ongoing massacre of innocent civilians in Syria, Friedman had this to say: “How can you compare [the two], the Syrian situation is an internal Syrian affair while the construction in Jerusalem will kindle all of the Middle East.”
Friedman’s ethics were questionable.
He was not the affable host who gave everyone a fair chance and who made sure that anyone on the receiving end of an item would have the right of response, especially when the item dealt negatively with the Jewish population residing in Judea and Samaria.
An egregious example is from June 2010. Friedman and reporter Dana Tzuk had a story about a resident from Kedumim who took over the lands of a local Palestinian resident. The item was aired without even asking for the Israeli’s response.
As reported on the Srugim news website, Friedman opened the item with the claim that “especially when it comes to settlers, Israel’s justice system works very slowly.”
To this day, the station has not apologized for this unprofessional report and conduct.
Friedman does not like haredim (ultra-Orthodox) and lets his views be known on air. He should have had to apologize for denigrating them, stating that he certainly would not interview any haredi person for a program dealing with the Second Lebanon War, even though we all know that there are haredim who serve in the army.
After 30 years, Galatz is finally without Friedman. He has retired, but not without throwing rocks at the establishment he took advantage of for over 30 years. In a flattering interview by Yediot Aharonot – with no serious questioning from the interviewer, Amira Lam, he complained that the reason for his leaving the station is that he understood that Yaron Dekel, the station commander, is searching for a replacement.
In his “interpretation” of events, Dekel is trying to find favor with the Prime Minister’s Office, since Friedman is considered to be a leftist. Friedman complained bitterly that he felt he was in for a daily witch hunt by right-wing organizations. He cited his army service as proof of his loyalty to the country.
Perhaps the most revealing statement in his interview was: “My political views emanate from values of equality and justice, of using violent means only for self-defense. I did not take advantage of the radio to proselytize for my opinions.”
Friedman simply is not capable of looking at himself through the eyes of people who disagree with him.
It is interesting to compare the treatment of Friedman at the station with that of his colleague Avshalom Kor, Galatz’s Hebrew language expert. Kor, who since 1976 presents a daily Hebrew language corner, responded satirically two weeks ago to the recent further release of terrorists from Israeli prisons, saying, “the receptions for the murderers of children released from prison reminds me of the story about someone who became a victim of cannibals.
The chief was awarded the face and the rest of the tribe received the ears, hands and feet. When they (the Palestinians) talk to us about the main body of issues (to be discussed) soon also the body will be tossed aside.”
Haaretz, with its far-left agenda, was quite upset. It is so used to left-wing satire, and has so often justified the usage of the public airwaves to advance its post-Zionist agenda, that it came as a shock that someone would dare do the opposite.
It comes as no surprise that Kor was told unequivocally by Dekel that he is not permitted to use his Hebrew language corner for any further political statements, although he was not ordered to apologize.
There is a huge difference between Kor’s satire and Friedman’s statements, however: Kor does not present a news program.
Friedman regularly entangled news with his views.
This does not mean Kor was justified in usurping the public airwaves to air his personal opinions. But given that this is the daily accepted practice of the Israeli media, backed regularly by the ombudsmen who should know better, it is not surprising that Kor did the same, expecting that he too would be treated equally.
One would only hope that the same rule holds for all, and that Razi Barkai in his morning program, Yael Dan in the daily noon program and David Tadmor in his legal program on Galatz would also be directed to stop using the airwaves to express their personal opinions.
Pluralism at the army radio station has progressed significantly since Yaron Dekel took over the helm. This reflects itself in the social makeup of the soldiers recruited to the station, as well as in the programming.
Israel’s citizens seem to be taking kindly to Dekel’s leadership. Only this week we learned that Galatz was the leader in the ratings war, with 42.7 percent share compared with Israel’s public radio, whose share was 39%. It would seem that Friedman’s departure hardly made any impression on the public.
Dear Mr. Friedman, go into your retirement in peace and please leave us, also, in peace.
January 16, 2014
by YISRAEL MEDAD, 15/01/2014
Eventually, Sharon found himself alternatively battling and being assisted by the media.
Ariel Sharon’s death, eight years since his second, devastating stroke on January 4, 2006, provides an opportunity to review one of the more intense love-hate-love relationships that have existed, over a period of decades, between Israel’s media and a major political and military figure. Of course, for the foreign media, the relationship is more properly described as hate-hate.
Swords were crossed in the past. Spiteful and even hateful remarks were aimed at Sharon, who first as a soldier, then as a commander and then as a politician, sought to assure his self-assigned role in Israel’s – and the Jewish people’s – consciousness. Asked by a television reporter as to his future, on the evening of the Likud election victory in May 1977 – in which he played no small part – he replied, “I think I am appropriate for a variety of positions in government.”
Eventually, he served in many, and found himself alternatively battling and being assisted by the media.
The love part of the relationship has its roots in the Gaza disengagement. Sharon’s crowning media achievement was having both Haaretz and notable left-wing media icons such as Amnon Avramovitz and Nahum Barnea line up in his camp. Haaretz, without any ethical scruples, declared in print, in editorials and in the words of then-editor David Landau, that any peccadilloes of Sharon’s would be downgraded in consideration of his new political line.
As Gil Beckerman recorded in 2004 in the Columbia Journalism Review, “as soon as the plan was announced in late 2003, the daily editorials in Haaretz began sounding as if Sharon’s speechwriters had written them.
The disengagement was ‘the life-saving medicine for a fast-moving disease, hungry for victims,’ the editorial board wrote on October 26, 2004.”
Avramovitz, who was severely burned during a tank battle in the Yom Kippur War, and who was a critic of Sharon, became a leading political pundit in Ma’ariv and then on Channel 1 TV and finally Channel 2. He about-faced in a conference at the Van Leer Institute in February 2005, declaring, “Sharon must be watched over as though he were an etrog; to keep him in an airtight box, padded with soft padding, cellophane and cotton wool, at least until the disengagement is over… Sharon established all these ‘settlements,’ and if the good spirit comes over him at the end of his life and he dismantles them all, he should be closely guarded.”
But the Gaza withdrawal was insufficient for the appetite of his new-found left-wing pundits and political commentator friends.
They wanted more, much more: the dismantling of all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. So much so that during this past week one of the central themes has been the claim of various people, such as attorney Dov Weisglas, who oversaw the disengagement in his role as director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, and General (res.) Amiram Levin, that Sharon may well have actually intended to dismantle many more settlements.
Oddly, or ominously, after being an object of particular scorn for Haaretz journalist Yoel Marcus over the years, it was to him of all people that Sharon agreed to grant an initiated interview to announce the disengagement.
The move went above the heads of his coalition partners and party loyalists, and was made even before the government debated or discussed the issue.
Sharon, or his advisers, knew very well that his success in implementing policy depended on a compliant and supportive media.
The Marcus incident more than perhaps any other was an indicator of the respect politicians have for the power of the media.
In an awkward turn of events for Sharon, his disengagement plans almost ran aground when, perhaps believing the mainstream media’s claim that he was riding high among the public, his decision to agree to a Likud plebiscite backfired. It was the community of Gush Katif residents and their supporters who managed to exploit the opportunities the media presented to momentarily stave off the approaching expulsion and destruction.
In 2004, right-wing theorist Motti Karpel suggested Sharon had been fooled by the media’s smoke and mirrors; he really did believe the public wanted peace almost at any price, Karpel wrote in his How Israel’s Media Overcame Ariel Sharon. When the polls indicated the negative trend, Sharon turned the Likud vote into one of personal confidence in him, yet he lost despite the exuberance expressed by the powerful leftwing elements in the media. In a sense, he defeated himself by trusting, against his own experience, what the media was telling him.
Sharon was no innocent babe. He understood the media, manipulated it and had his circle of supporters. One of his most well-known, trademark patterns of behavior was to virtually ignore any question posed to him during an interview. He would patiently wait until the reporter finished speaking, and then answer whatever he thought question should have been.
Haaretz pundit Uzi Benziman, who battled Sharon in a long-lasting libel case, asserts that Sharon’s “contribution” to a new IDF relationship with military correspondents was circumventing official press releases and leaking plans and opinions of fellow officers to selected correspondents.
Over the years, newspapers and reporters attacked Sharon ferociously, for military operations ranging from Qibya to the Mitla Pass to Lebanon, and over his unqualified support for the increase in Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. His ascent to the Temple Mount in September 2000 was arguably the highlight of the hate relationship.
But the same people who attacked him sacrificed their ethics without hesitation when it appeared they could gain politically by doing so.
Sharon’s love-hate relationship with the media ended with a grand finale: an outpouring of media attention paralleled only by the aftermath of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, on the other hand, whose steadfastness under pressure and whose care for the Jewish people certainly was not less than that of Sharon, barely registered in the media when he died 18 months ago.
Was the Israeli press used by Sharon, or did it use him? More importantly, are we, the consumers of the media, the ultimate victims of Israel’s biased media norms?
January 8, 2014
by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 08/01/2014
Media context harms the media itself but also our democratic society, which desperately needs a context- free media to uphold it.
Last week, Melissa Harris-Perry had to apologize for her MSNBC show which included a comic “year in review” program. In one segment, a photo displayed Governor Mitt Romney’s grandchildren, including his adopted grandson, who is African-American. Some of the captions of the photos were nasty.
She admitted that ground rules were broken and then declared, “We’re generally appreciative of everyone who offered serious criticisms of last Sunday’s program, and I am reminded that our fiercest critics can sometimes be our best teachers.”
Here in Israel, not only are critics of the media not appreciated by the media, in most cases they are ignored, too often becoming objects of ridicule. At best, the response most often heard by those criticized is usually, “Since we’re criticized both from the Left and the Right, we must be doing something right.” Of course, the possibility theoretically exists that they may be doing everything wrong.
Nevertheless, it is legitimate to ask if the media really is biased and/or unethical or is the problem with the perceptions of biased viewers and listeners? Is bias just a matter of a chronic sloppiness, or is there something more intrinsic? What can we in Israel learn from media ethics studies from abroad? Katherine Fink and Michael Schudson of Columbia University point to a major development, whereby journalism has turned itself into a news manager and a political power player. Their article in January 2014’s Journalism labels as “contextual journalism” the new style in reporting.
Whereas journalism used to be, at least theoretically, all about facts, it has metamorphosized into interpretation.
What today’s journalists do is provide meaning and narrative, while facts are left far behind.
Ala Fink and Schudson, there are four categories of reporting: (a) straightforward conventional reporting; (b) contextual reporting, which includes a considerable analysis component; (c) watchdog reporting, usually involving government or big business; and (d) social empathy reporting, usually dealing with the lives of people with whom the readers are unfamiliar.
Their findings are that the frequency of classic “straight” news items has fallen, and contextual journalism has increased to nearly half of all articles they reviewed. They quote Stephen Hess, who called this type of writing “social science journalism,” which has “a clear intention of focusing on causes, not on events as such.”
An obvious problematic outgrowth of these tendencies is that the professional value of “objectivity” is becoming virtually non-existent. Objectivity, which means “truth-seeking, neutrality, ethics and credibility,” as Noel Sheppard, associate editor of NewsBusters, writes, becomes a very different thing “when the journalist’s job moves from describing events to creating interpretations.”
The most potent element discovered by polls and academic studies, consistently over a long period of time, is liberal bias in the media. A 2005 UCLA study, led by Tim Groseclose, termed it a “systematic tendency…
[of] media outlets to slant the news to the Left.”
This is reflected in negative vs. positive content coverage, as well as the framing of developments.
Bias manifests itself in two major ways: structural (bias in individual stories that favors one side in a conflict) and partisan (aggregate news coverage that systematically favors the liberal or conservative side in a political conflict).
Why is there perceived bias? One explanation offered by a 1999 study by Watts et al. attributes it to “media self-coverage and elite cue-taking.” Citizens might perceive the media as liberally biased because conservative political elites often focus their media relationship on these allegations.
A classic example is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s famous (or infamous) May 1999 remark about the media: “They are afraid, a-f-r-a-i-d.” That speech provided his critics within the media milieu with much ammunition.
On December 28, 2012, Anat Balint, writing in Haaretz, recalled his words and asserted that “Netanyahu is one of the most hostile prime ministers to a free press that Israel has ever known… [his is] a silent yet consistent policy that can only be understood as intended to strip Israel’s media outlets of any significant power to stand up to the government and its current elected leader.”
Last time we turned a page, scrolled a screen or turned on the television or radio, it was our distinct impression that all is well with our media’s freedom.
The power it has in dictating the agenda and framing stories has not diminished appreciatively, if at all.
Some would think it has only increased. In contrast to Balint, we believe that the real problem with our media is its bias, not its freedom.
Social empathy reporting is big in Israel. Consider the continuing campaign on behalf of persons, mainly from Africa, who entered Israel illegally. The reporters sent to cover the stories are usually, if not exclusively, those whose beat is termed “social welfare.” Their language and concepts pass on a highly politicized point of view. One may only wonder what the response of the “human rights” groups in Israel would be if, instead of using such terms as “refugees,” “asylum- seekers,” or even “work migrants,” the migrants were to be referred to as “illegal settlers attempting to occupy another people’s territory.”
The very use of concepts such as “rights” is a matter of context rather than truth and reflects media bias, for do not Israelis suffering from the presence of these migrants also have rights? It would not be too difficult to guess that if legal affairs reporters or security or police correspondents were sent to cover the events, the reporting would at least sound different. The editors are here at fault perhaps even more than the journalists, limiting the coverage to one area of what is news but ignoring its other aspects. Since the editors adopt the line of interpretation that this story is already an internal one rather than an external threat, that these infiltrators are somehow already “Israeli,” half the struggle of those groups promoting this issue has already been won.
An example of contextual bias in Israel was when a certain newspaper persisted in interviewing for background and commentary only those legal experts whose opinion was that Avigdor Liberman would be found guilty. They were quite surprised to find out how wrong they were when Liberman was declared innocent.
In the same context, consider some of our media’s reaction to Liberman’s suggestion that while no Arab need be removed from his home, Israel’s border could be redrawn so that Umm el-Fahm residents would be in the new State of Palestine. We’ll ignore some of the more extreme responses suggesting that he is preparing the ground for a “new Nakba,” but if the context is a citizenship issue, is any reporter dealing with the fact that in 1949, none of the Arabs in Israel were asked if they wished to be Israeli or not, and that perhaps this is also part of the current issue? Media surrounds us. It is in our homes and cars. More often than not, the television is on in our homes for hours. Many news websites are free. The media, more often than not, is providing us with context, sometimes at the expense of facts. This makes it all the more difficult for the public to decide what is important and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable social behavior and what is not. The result is a muddled society, whose trust in the media is low.
Media context harms the media itself but also our democratic society, which desperately needs a context- free media to uphold it.