June 25, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: Covering Up

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:55 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Covering up
by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 06/24/2015  
The Ghattas story, we suggest, is one big cover-up aided by Israel’s media.
Israel’s media prides itself as the watchdog and protector of democracy. The latest attack on democracy it seeks to highlight is the possibility Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might alter the Public Broadcasting Law, the “baby” of former communications minister Gilad Erdan.

In this column we pointed out many times that the new legislation was hasty, not well thought-out and far from accentuating the Zionist nature of the Jewish state.

We certainly would hope that the prime minister, together with current Communications Minister Ofir Akunis, does not heed the media’s cry of “wolf” regarding the government’s supposed undermining of democracy, but rather rethinks many aspects of the present law, not least the actual name of the corporation which we believe should be called The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.

The present law is wanting. Not only does it not assure fair, balanced and ethical broadcasting on the public airwaves, nor provide a system to punish offenders for unethical behavior, but in practice achieves just the opposite. Consider the latest brouhaha over MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint List.

Ghattas flew to Athens to join the latest attempt at sending a boat to the Gaza Strip. When the story came out on Monday, Yossi Hadar, Kol Israel’s Reshet Bet anchor, asked the station’s legal expert, Professor Moshe Negbi, about the legality of Ghattas’s actions. Negbi, without blinking, claimed that there was nothing illegal about them and cited as “proof” the fact that the Supreme Court annulled the decision of Central Election Committee to ban the Balad Party from running in the elections. MK Haneen Zoabi, who partook in the Mavi Marmara flotilla, is a member of Balad, and so, Negbi concluded, her actions were legal and therefore the same applied to Ghattas.

The Ghattas story, we suggest, is one big cover-up aided by Israel’s media. Ghattas repeatedly stated that he was going on behalf of the 1.8 million residents of the Gaza Strip. A reliable census of the population of the Strip has not been taken for many years, yet not one Israeli anchor even questioned him as to the source of his information.

As for the legality of his actions, one should only ask advocate Nitzana Darshan- Leitner about this. Her organization, Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center, demanded that the Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken stop its financial services to the Free Gaza organization. Her brief was based on what is obvious: the planned trip is an unlawful attempt to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the terrorist-controlled Gaza Strip. She noted further that “Israel’s naval blockade… is lawful,” referencing Sir George Palmer, who headed th Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident.

Aiding and abetting a terrorist organization is illegal in Israel, and even the act of publicly supporting a terrorist or acting in a way which encourages terrorists is also illegal. But not only did guru Negbi demonstrate his lack of knowledge, which can be tolerated (no one is perfect), or worse, his bias, but the IBA did not find it justified to provide the public with an opinion different from that offered by Negbi. It did not let the public know about Shurat Hadin’s actions. Was an editor hiding the facts of the case from the public? This incident is not an isolated one. Consider the latest OECD report. Our media feeds us stories regularly about how bad life is in Israel, how poorly we fare as compared to other OECD countries. It loves to accentuate the large disparity in Israel between rich and poor. Only the United States, Turkey and Chile are worse off. Israel’s poverty rate is the worst in the OECD. One might then think that we are a really miserable country.

But let us consider the following OECD statistics, which for some reason are kept mostly hidden from Israel’s populace. The gross salary of teachers in Israel is the third highest in the OECD, surpassed only by Poland and Estonia. Public spending on education is the third highest. Private spending on education is second highest.

Israel’s fertility rate (3.05) is the highest in the OECD. Israel is at ninth place with life expectancy at birth, with a median of 81.8.

Net pension wealth puts Israel at fifth place. Our government’s debt is smack in the middle of OECD countries. Israel leads the OECD with gross domestic spending on research and development (4.2% of GDP). The long-term unemployment rate in Israel is fifth lowest with only Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico and Korea doing better. Is it then surprising that Israel is in fifth place in life satisfaction with only Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark doing better?

As a third example, let us consider the recent revelations of MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), our former ambassador to the United States. In his June 16 article in The Wall Street Journal he had this to say: “Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes. When I was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to the end of 2013, that was my standard response to reporters asking who bore the greatest responsibility – President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – for the crisis in US-Israel relations. I never felt like I was lying when I said it. But, in truth, while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately.”

Oren was roundly attacked by almost everyone in the Israeli media, as well as by his political adversaries. Barak Ravid of Haaretz, echoing US administration spokespersons, wrote that Oren’s only aim was to sell his book. Mati Golan wrote in Globes that “I presume that Oren’s goal was to garner popularity from the right, where he belongs.”

Of course, Oren is an outspoken supporter of the “two state solution” and claims that Israel’s construction in Judean and Samaria is harmful, but who cares about facts? Golan continues: “For this purpose, Oren is willing to sacrifice the relations between two countries and heads of state. I call this charlatanism.”

TV Channel 10 reported that “White House sources claimed that when he was ambassador, he said just the opposite… he was almost never present in the meetings.”

Yet it was only a few months ago, when Prime Minister Netanyahu insisted on appearing before the US Congress on the Iran issue, that our media was roundly attacking our present ambassador, Ron Dermer, for creating the worst atmosphere ever between Israel and the United States.

There are only two options: either the media is naïve or no matter what happens, will attack any ambassador who was appointed by the prime minister.

The truth is that our media does little investigative reporting regarding the performance of our ambassadors overseas and too many take the lead of American sources (remember the “chickensh*t” episode?).

The end result is that Israel’s media consumers are all too often kept in the dark.

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June 18, 2015

Those Betarim and Their ‘Fascist’ Uniforms

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:01 pm by yisraelmedad

Didn’t Betar have fascist-looking uniforms in-between the wars in Europe?

shmutz - עותק

Ooops.

Sorry.

Those were members of HaShomer HaTzair in Hrubieshow:

shmutz

Here are the Betarim:

zionists

begin-betar-bielsk podalski

^

MEDIA COMMENT: Trigger-happy media

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:01 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Trigger-happy media
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 06/17/2015
With big stories, the honest journalist must make some hard decisions.
It was less than two months ago that the whole country was ablaze due to a video of a policeman beating Ethiopian-Israeli soldier Damas Pakada. Members of the Ethiopian community went on a rampage, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the victim to his office in attempt to reduce the tensions. The media was full of accusations against the police, the government and Israeli society in general for our racist handling of the Ethiopian community.

People such as Kol Yisrael’s Keren Neubach made it a point to show how our society does not know much about the former Ethiopian community, or perhaps does not want to treat its members fairly. Pakada was hailed as the model of innocent youth, serving in the IDF only to be mishandled by a police officer because of his skin color.

The story did not end there. The police were under pressure, and the policeman in question was summarily dismissed. The justice mill turns slowly, but it does turn. This week, the attorney general decided that the policeman would not be prosecuted. The story, it seems, is much more complex, and perhaps even damning.

Pakada, if we are to believe Weinstein, was not an innocent babe in the wood.

The policeman instructed him not to enter a cordoned-off area due to a suspicious object, but Pakada did not heed the warnings.


He attempted to enter and was forcibly stopped by the police. Pakada, Weinstein accepted, then simply punched the police officer, and even picked up a stone and threatened to hurl it at the officer, who then, instead of reacting coolly, hit him back. This last act was broadcast nationally.

The press at the time did not even attempt to hear the police officer’s side of the story. It just did not exist; it was clear he was a racist.

The footage shown was clearly edited, yet the press swallowed the story for it sold well, made good headlines and increased ratings. Who cares if a police officer had to pay with his livelihood? Yet even after these revelations, our media should be asking some questions.

For example, how could it be that the officer in question was so quickly sacked? Who fired him? Were they using him as a scapegoat? Prime Minister Netanyahu and the media should be asking his aides how it came to pass that the prime minister was unwittingly aiding someone who according to the attorney general is a violent law-breaker. The attorney general should be asked why he isn’t prosecuting Pakada for striking an on-duty police officer.

The press should be demanding that the officer be reinstated. But no, the story is over. The media had its party and that is all that counts.

This story is not unique. It repeated itself just this week. MK Oren Hazan (Likud) was the latest victim. Based on material which, at least at this point, would not be acceptable in any court, MK Hazan was accused by Amit Segal of Channel 2 TV of procuring prostitutes and drugs for himself and his friends during the time he managed a casino in Bulgaria. Rather strong accusations against a newly elected MK. Yediot Aharonot even went so far as to quote a girl from Hazan’s school years as saying that he was a “bad guy.”

Segal introduced testimony from a number of people, most of whom had their voices changed so as not to reveal their identity. If these stories are true, these people should be talking with the Israeli and Bulgarian police, but that will probably never happen. The Channel 2 report showed pictures of Hazan with young girls, perhaps not something that your average citizen would support but certainly not illegal in itself. One photograph, presented as if it were snapped at the casino, was in fact an old one, taken years ago.

On Monday evening, the ante was upped when Channel 10 reported that three women were accusing Hazan of sexual molestation. The women did not go to the police and again, the use of anonymous accusations of sexual or any other molestation is itself an ethical impropriety.

We do not know the facts nor have any empathy for Hazan. According to our sages, someone who is involved in running a casino (Hazan did not deny this) would not be acceptable as a witness in a court of law. Hazan’s presence in the Knesset does not do great honor to this august body. But the issue is the ease with which the media can accuse a person of serious criminal behavior, when such charges would not stick in any court of law. How can Hazan answer his anonymous accusers? The reports of channels 2 and 10 are not much better than those of the NGO Breaking the Silence, which smears Israel all over the world using anonymous and unverifiable testimony against the IDF.

Most of us would claim that Breaking the Silence is a reprehensible organization – but was Segal’s report so very different? After all the brouhaha, it was reported yesterday that the attorney general is reopening an investigation into Hazan’s alleged assault against officials of the Ariel municipality! The most worrisome part of this story is that it could lead to tragedy. Segal must be aware of the suicide of Ariel Ronis, a senior manager in the Interior Ministry accused by name on Facebook for racist treatment of a person of Ethiopian descent. In the aftermath of the violent demonstrations, Ronis was immediately judged in the court of public opinion. He had no way to defend himself. Our media did not ask the accusers tough questions, Ronis could not take the pressure and committed suicide.

Some legislators claimed afterward that something must be done to prevent such tragedies, but it was all lip service and the Hazan story is the proof.

There is a real dilemma. Many times, stories such as Segal’s revelations regarding MK Hazan have eventually brought crooks to justice. Indeed, we have a former president who is currently sitting in jail. We also have a prime minister who was brought to justice due to among other things the professional efforts of journalist Yoav Yitzchak on his News 1 website. In these cases, the stories were true, in the sense that they brought about a trial and a conviction.

The honest journalist must make some hard decisions. On the one hand, she or he has a great scoop on their hands, and if they don’t publicize it, someone else probably will. On the other hand, there is the nagging worry that the journalist is being used, that the testimony is not truthful, that the people giving evidence have an ax to grind, etc.

We would like to believe that our professional journalists know when to publish and when not to. But judging these three events, it seems our media is a wee bit trigger-happy.

^

June 11, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: The media, politics and the media, again

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:06 pm by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: The media, politics and the media, again

by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 06/10/2015

On May 31, a journalist employed by a public broadcasting network revealed that he had received a covert call offering him a role as a spin doctor for the head of the Labour Party.

On May 31, a journalist employed by a public broadcasting network revealed that he had received a covert call offering him a role as a spin doctor for the head of the Labour Party in preparation for the upcoming election campaign.

He was told that “the party knows it has a problem and is determined to fix it.” The leader was suffering “presentational difficulties”and he “needs advice, and it has to come from someone with sufficient stature to ensure he’ll listen to it.” The journalist replied first by politely expressing thanks for being considered, and then by saying he “remained committed to journalism” and did not desire to enter the political arena.

All who saw the second part of Anat Goren’s documentary on Isaac Herzog (which we commented on in our May 28 column) noticed the presence of Sefi Rechlevsky, Haaretz op-ed columnist, intimately engaged in the activities of Herzog’s inner sanctum. But Rechlevsky wasn’t the journalist referred to above, and neither was any other Israeli journalist.

The people involved in the above telephone conversation were BBC commentator Nick Robinson and the former, but now resigned, chairman of the British Labour Party, Ed Miliband. The two are Jewish, as are Rechlevsky and Herzog, but the similarity ends there.

To be fair to Rechlevsky, political involvement is a problem endemic to journalism. The media, without a critical public and with at best impotent supervisory bodies, can at times be no better than the unethical subjects they cover. Nevertheless, it appears that a different set of ethical standards was at work in England, but not only there.

In a column last month titled “Stop Hiring Political Operatives as ‘Journalists,’” Hamilton Nolan reviewed the controversy of, in his words, American “political pseudo-journalist” ABC news anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The latter was discovered to have made undisclosed contributions to the Clinton Foundation while employed by ABC. Nolan eviscerated the network’s managers for ignoring that Stephanopoulos, who had “forfeited all trust as a newsman,” had not only worked as communications director for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and as an adviser to the Clinton White House but also recently interviewed Peter Schweizer, author of an anti-Clinton book on the family’s financial dealings, without disclosing his links. For Nolan, “the scandal is that George Stephanopoulos was ever hired as a ‘journalist’ in the first place.”

A JOURNALIST need not be a past political operative or a former employee of a politician to endanger democracy or hurt the public’s right to know. Bob Schieffer, speaking on Fox News Channel’s Media Buzz, conceded that the awe-struck press had given Barack Obama an easy ride in his 2008 presidential campaign, stating: “I think the whole political world was struck by this fella…maybe we were not skeptical enough.”

There are other dangers. In the Herzog documentary there is a scene in which consultant Tammy Henchman is on the telephone with someone, to whom she says, “We’re putting out a release, and you’ll give it headline treatment.” She then tells a staffer to put out the release to “Miranda,” noting that “Miranda” would publish the statement prior to its being uttered by Herzog.

It turns out that “Miranda” is Amnon Miranda, deputy to the chief editor of the Ynet news website, a subsidiary of Yediot Aharonot. Did the company’s antipathy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pave the way for Miranda to use the unethical road of publishing news that hadn’t quite happened yet? Another example of unethical and unprofessional journalism occurred on Kol Israel’s Reshet Bet radio last week on the 15th anniversary of the IDF’s retreat from Lebanon. As both Besheva’s Amiel Ungar and Makor Rishon’s Haggai Segal commented in their columns, in two hours of air time not one guest who thought that the move was a wrong decision was given the courtesy of the public microphone.

Segal added that he had texted the program’s editor complaining about the one-sidedness of the program, hosted by two journalists who openly took credit in the past for supporting the pro-withdrawal campaign. The two were Shelly Yacimovich, now a Labor MK, and Carmela Menasheh, Kol Israel’s military affairs correspondent.

The reply Segal received was: “Do you really want that we should return there, Haggai?” That question revealed the incompetence of the editor, who did not understand that Segal’s demand was for pluralism and balance, and nothing more.

There are also media-industry links which are disturbing.

On June 2, the V15 group tweeted to Nadav Perry, who had resigned from his position as political correspondent for Channel 10 News after 17 years working in the media to act as a publicist for tycoon Yitzhak Teshuvah, the following message: “Success! Thanks for the devoted work!” The media elite were upset with Perry’s crossing the lines, but the real gem was the crossing of swords between Perry and MK Micky Rosenthal. Rosenthal, who worked in the past with Perry as an investigative program producer, tweeted that Perry’s new monthly salary was to be NIS 160,000 and expressed outrage that Perry had “sold out.”

Rosenthal had to quickly backtrack and admit that he was mistaken: Perry would be earning “only” NIS 60,000 per month. Perry then tweeted, “It is scary to think that this is your level of professionalism and fact-checking with your past investigative work.”

Our last example is Ilana Dayan’s TV Channel 2 interview with US President Barack Obama. Dror Eydar asked the pertinent questions in Israel Hayom: “Did Dayan present the interest of the public, or those of an imaginary journalism community? …The interview amply demonstrated Dayan’s identification with Obama’s views. She didn’t challenge him ideologically and sidestepped potholes of controversy….”

Ruthie Blum was more acerbic there, writing, “A tough investigative journalist like Dayan could have made better use of the microphone. But for this, she would have had to avoid slipping into idolatry mode and keep herself from fawning like a high-school girl in the presence of a movie star whose poster hangs over her bed.”

Media consumers have the right to know if the news they pay for is corrupted, biased, the result of sloppy journalism or delivered in the service of a person or political outlook. Sefi Rechlevsky’s sojourn in the close company of Labor’s Herzog – and it makes no difference that he claims he was there merely as a guest of political adviser Reuven Adler, the excuse he fed his Haaretz employers – should not have been allowed to happen. Journalists must be open to oversight no less than the subjects they cover.

Time and again, we witness the media’s double standard.

They demand journalistic freedom in the name of the public’s right to know yet they refuse to apply the same principles to their own work. All too often some engage in devious behavior, at times bordering on the criminal. Their colleagues do not call them to task. Ethics are not only for the journalist. They exist, equally so, to protect the media consumer.

^

June 4, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: The FIFA aftermath

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The FIFA aftermath

By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 06/03/2015

 

The Israeli media had a ball in the days leading up to the finale.

 
Jibril Rajoub is the head of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) as well as the Palestine Olympic committee. As head of the PFA, he tabled a motion at the Federation of International Football Association’s (FIFA) general assembly to have Israel suspended from the association. As we all know by now, last Friday Rajoub essentially lost and due to behindthe- scenes maneuvering had to retract his motion. Israel continues as a full member of FIFA.

The Israeli media had a ball in the days leading up to the finale.

Ousting Israel from FIFA was portrayed as a very serious challenge to Israel and if successful, a harbinger of future boycotts. The motion was portrayed as a result of the Palestinians losing hope for any “progress” with the new Likud government.

The nuance was that the “occupation” and lack of willingness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “negotiate” with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was the real reason underlying Rajoub’s actions.
Who is Jibril Rajoub? A simple Internet search will quickly reveal that he is a convicted terrorist. In 1970, he was sentenced by Israel to life in prison for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army truck. On May 21, 1985, Israel released 1,150 prisoners as part of an agreement with Ahmed Jibril and his terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, for the return of three captured Israeli soldiers.

One of the released terrorists was Rajoub.  Shortly thereafter, he was re-arrested for a period of seven months.

He was imprisoned for another seven months in September of 1986, for militant activity. This did not end his struggle against Israel.  He was again arrested in December 1987 in the wake of the first intifada and deported to Lebanon in January 1988.

Rajoub used his time in Israeli prison to learn Hebrew and study Israeli history. His political astuteness should not be underestimated.  He is considered by Israel’s Left as one of those Palestinians with whom it is possible to “make peace.”

As reported by Lily Galili in Haaretz, on September 14, 2004, Rajoub, in a joint interview with Dr. Yossi Beilin, stated that “the Palestinians recognize Israel’s existence as a Jewish state within the 1967 borders, and do not aspire to change its demographic balance drastically.” This was part of a media campaign by the “Geneva Initiative” headed by Beilin, aimed at convincing the Israeli public that there are genuine partners for peace within the Palestinian leadership.

None of this background was to be heard or seen on our radio and TV sets. The central issue that was discussed was whether the Israeli delegation would manage to be convincing enough to prevent the vote from passing. That is not to say that all Israelis were blind to Rajoub’s background or his current support for terrorist activity. Shurat Hadin (The Israel Law Center), headed by attorney Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, demanded that FIFA expel Rajoub on the grounds that he was inciting terrorism. In a letter sent to Joseph Blatter, FIFA’s former president, Darshan-Leitner noted that Rajoub has glorified attacks by Fatah and the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades against Israel.

She quoted Rajoub saying to Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen television station that Israel is “our enemy and our battle is against them.” Furthermore, Rajoub, who is also deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, stated that the resistance should be fought by all means and using all weapons, as for example in that same May 2013 interview when he declared: “I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.” Rajoub has also praised Hamas for firing 4,000 rockets at Israel this past summer.

Darshan-Leitner noted that all this is an open breach of FIFA’s standards of conduct and demanded that Rajoub be expelled from FIFA.

This was not the only attempt.

The Mattot Arim organization, under the leadership of Susie Dym, documented many of the racist and terrorist statements emanating from Rajoub. He openly called for the “slaughtering of settlers” on the Awdah TV channel on August 13, 2014, as documented by Palestinian Media Watch. A fencing match named after arch-terrorist Abu Jihad took place under the auspices of Rajoub. He was caught live in May 2012 by PalWatch stating that “Jews are the incarnation of the devil, Zionist sons of whores.”

Mattot Arim also called for the dismissal of Rajoub from FIFA.

Yet none of this came to the forefront of our mainstream broadcast media (whether Israel’s official representatives presented any of this damaging material to FIFA is another matter), neither via television nor the Reshet Bet and Galatz radio stations. Yediot Aharonot dedicated its first two pages to the drama – but not a word about Rajoub’s history. Why was this information withheld? In fact the radio stations made it a point on Sunday morning to interview Rajoub, giving him full freedom to continue his diatribe against us. For example, on Reshet Bet, he stated that the present Israeli government is racist. His interviewer, Gal Berger, did not even utter a murmur of protest.

Our media, however, did make it a point to remind us all that FIFA is only an opening shot and that we should expect more to come. This theme appeared on the TV screens and on radio. Chico Menashe, the political commentator of Kol Yisrael, excelled in his dire warnings.

This same kind of biased reporting and hiding of facts characterizes the coverage of Israel’s decision regarding the natural gas companies.

Professor David Gilo, Israel’s antitrust commissioner, resigned after his recommendations for regulating the gas companies were not accepted by the government. Gilo insisted on creating open competition between the gas companies.

The government decided that this would lead to a further delay in the production of gas, would create losses for the economy and would violate the agreements signed with the gas companies prior to exploration.

Here, too, sufficient background was not provided. We need remember that the Netanyahu government and then-finance minister Yuval Steinitz already broke the agreements with the gas companies, levying higher taxes than were agreed upon. The initial contracts were not signed by the Netanyahu government nor was it responsible for them. The whole idea that previous agreements can be renegotiated is rather problematic. Yet Arieh Golan on his morning radio program only interviewed MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor) who, of course, was against the government.

It is high time that our media stop being political and instead provide the public with information and allow us to make our own political decisions. Defending the “good name” of Rajoub only because he is associated to some minor extent with the Geneva Initiative is unprofessional journalism.

Criticizing the government just for the sake of criticism, or worse, to support a political or economic outlook, is unethical. We deserve better.

May 27, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: Hiding facts

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:26 pm by yisraelmedad

Media comment: Hiding facts
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 05/27/2015

Netanyahu, before the elections, acceded to Channel 10’s blackmail.

The headline “Channel 10 may shut down after Knesset rejects debt payment” appeared in The Jerusalem Post on December 12, 2011. The station then owed NIS 60 million in royalties and franchise fees. MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), at the time the chairman of the Economics Committee, noted that “Channel 10, as a financially weak company that will require government support, cannot be the watchdog of democracy. At best, it would be a poodle.”

Another headline, in Haaretz on December 14, read: “Channel 10 expects board to shut down station on Dec. 31” – but the year was 2012, 12 months later. And on December 28, Haaretz ran the headline: “Channel 10 halts broadcasts, blames Netanyahu” and informed readers that the station had begun an on-air protest campaign using a denigrating photo angle of Netanyahu and warning of imminent closure following failed last-minute attempts to bail out the station. But this was only six months ago, in 2014.

If you are thinking that December is a jinxed month for Channel 10, we’ll quote this Ynet report, published on a July 14, whose headline informed us that “Channel 10 may go off air in one month.” The reason provided by Yossi Meiman, who owns a controlling interest in the channel, was that “his media group may stop financing its broadcasting.” However, other “sources” in the media group informed the reporter that the “crisis emanated from a regulatory failure.” The year then was 2009. Finally, in a May 20, 2015 review of the never-ending saga of the closure of Channel 10, Haaretz’s headline was: “Channel 10 may shut down after buyers back off.”

The financial aspects, the responsibility of the owners, the proper government regulatory system and the parliamentary oversight should all be considered. But perhaps first and foremost one should consider, three years later, Shamma-Cohen’s observation that a financially weak company cannot be a robust watchdog of democracy.

Channel 10 broadcasts the daily hour-long London & Kirschenbaum interview show which our monitoring has exposed time and again for its left-wing biases.

Raviv Drucker produces a weekly investigative program and appears frequently, several times a day on average, on the network. His personal bias against Netanyahu (the two have been in court airing mutual recriminations), characterized by a nasty snideness, is well recognized. There’s a biting satire show, Gav HaUmma (The Nation’s Back), and the daily evening news broadcast, which has proven unwilling to back down from in-your-face criticism of government positions.

JUST LAST week, the first part of a documentary on opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog’s election campaign was aired on Channel 10’s HaMakor (The Source) program.

It was a devastating portrayal of a politician. The second part was even more damaging. Reuven Adler, hired to save Herzog’s campaign, was heard calling Herzog Tzipi Livni’s key-holder.

Gideon Levy demanded in his May 21 column that Herzog immediately resign, adding that the Zionist Union’s head shouldn’t have been the party’s candidate for prime minister, should have resigned the day after his defeat and, at the least, “should quit his post…in the wake of the documentary.” The Twitter accounts of political reporters erupted.

The film uncovered the evident collusion of central elements of the media who were probably aware of multiple aspects of the developing failings of Herzog’s campaign and the negative comments from within the campaign headquarters. The film’s director and sole interviewer, who sat in Herzog’s cars, accompanied him seemingly everywhere and participated in senior staff meetings, is Anat Goren. Goren is the life-partner of… Channel 10’s Raviv Drucker. The couple have three children.

Attila Somfalvi of Ynet, in line with his boss’s preference, saw the “good,” tweeting that Herzog “at certain moments was a real man: he didn’t blame anyone, didn’t sidestep his responsibility.” Haredim10’s Sari Rot’s tweet read: “am I the only one who wasn’t shocked how bad [Herzog] was? I actually think he was human, considerate, a mensch.” Drucker, incidentally, publishes a personal column on the Haredim10 website, an example of secular/haredi coexistence. Avishai Ivri, main writer at Channel 1’s “We’ll Be the Judge” satire crew, wryly commented that perhaps PR whiz Reuven Adler should have run himself. He probably would have lost but, Ivri typed, it “wouldn’t have been such a sad joke.”

Orit Galili, formerly of Haaretz, admitted that the journalist referred to in the film as warning Herzog the Friday prior to the elections that Netanyahu would win was herself. Kol Israel’s Keren Neubach was blunt: “I can only wonder what made Herzog allow Goren to film him in such embarrassing moments… and why anyone presumed he could win.”

That last Neubach observation is the heart of the matter.

Herzog’s “march of folly” was open and as the film clearly shows, obvious to many media people; the producers, director, cameramen, support crew, editors and their assistants and perhaps even Raviv Drucker himself. Herzog’s victory was very much in doubt, but this was kept a secret. Journalists hid the reality from the public.

As Israel Hayom’s Haim Shine wrote on May 19, the film showed journalists “who saw Herzog’s audience- less election conferences in Beit She’an and Beersheba but still tried to convince us that Herzog was our salvation.” More important for him, and for democracy, was his demand “that the media take a look at itself and atone for its sins, the sins of arrogance, deception and exploiting freedom of speech.”

Channel 10 violated professional ethics. Its editors must have known about Goren’s devastating report, but they preferred silence to honest reporting. Why then should we the public believe anything controversial emanating from this channel? The latest in this saga is the channel’s accusations against the prime minister who, on his last day as finance minister, implemented a recommendation of the Second Authority for TV and Radio (SATR) to impose upon the channel a payment of NIS 16.8m., a past debt of the channel for the right to its broadcasting concession.

Channel 10 immediately cried foul, accusing Netanyahu of purposely harming the negotiations to find a new financier for the channel. It promptly petitioned the Supreme Court to annul Netanyahu’s decision, and Justice Anat Baron ordered the prime minister to respond to the claims within a week.

Netanyahu, before the elections, acceded to Channel 10’s blackmail. Despite six months’ breathing space to mend its ways, the channel showed no gratitude to the politicians’ largesse. Why should the Treasury overlook the channel’s debts once again? Channel 10 is a blight on Israel’s media industry. It does not uphold accepted media norms, it wastes the public’s money and it does not hesitate to blackmail the political system prior to elections. We can only hope that the prime minister will not once again cave in to the channel’s pressure and that the Israeli public will for once and for all be rid of it.

^

May 21, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: The media challenge

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:53 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The media challenge
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 05/20/2015
New governments in Israel, especially if they are not left-wing, do not receive the traditional 100 days of grace.
It took some time, but Israel finally has a new government.

Its stability is questionable, and there are elements in the media doing all they can to destabilize it, even though one may safely assume that the public would not want its tax money to be used for yet another costly election campaign.

New governments in Israel, especially if they are not left-wing, do not receive the traditional 100 days of grace. Criticism of the prime minister for his keeping the Communications Ministry portfolio to himself is broad and biting. The Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni, speaking on Galatz radio Tuesday, asserted the elections were a “ploy” by Prime Minister Netanyahu to “take over the media…to dominate the media…which is the watchdog of democracy.” Minister Ofir Akunis was deprived of full responsibility for the ministry, yet he does serve in the capacity of a minister in the Communications Ministry.

Given that the prime minister will be kept busy by his myriad other responsibilities, among them the Foreign Ministry and the efforts involved in holding the coalition together, one may well assume that Minister Akunis will de facto be the communications minister and only in acute cases would he need the advice and consent of the prime minister.

Minister Akunis also has a record of being an honest politician who has the public interest at heart. Indeed, even though his appointment is only for one year – MK Tzachi Hanegbi is scheduled to get the job a year from now – a year is plenty of time to tackle and solve some of the big issues facing our media today.


Arguably, the most important issue is over-regulation and media pluralism. The Second TV and Radio Authority (SATR) has a track record of doing its best to amass power and never relinquishing it. Somehow, the SATR leaders turned out to be more interested in the good of their bureaucracy than in the public good. There is no other way to explain the SATR’s successful efforts during these past years to block any initiative aimed at opening up our electronic skies. The SATR blocked attempts at increasing the number of radio stations. If anything, the number of independently operating stations in Israel has been reduced, especially in view of the shared programs of many of the regional stations.

The Knesset wanted to bring in deregulation, turning the concession law into a licensing law. Fundamentally, the idea is that opening up a TV station would be similar to opening a new restaurant. All that should be needed is a license. In practice, the SATR simply wasted taxpayer money, assuring that while the title of the law was changed from concessions to licenses, the conditions to be fulfilled by a licensee are equivalent to those of a concessionaire, and the results are evident. We still have to suffer from Channel 10 TV. Channel 2 TV has not changed much and the Israel Broadcasting Authority is in a financial-managerial-procedural crisis. As written in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The new law provides the SATR with almost unlimited power in demanding license fees, bank guarantees, interfering in programming and more.

The new government should thoroughly revamp this law, making it possible for anyone to open a radio or TV station. The authority of the SATR should be limited to making sure that the licensees have the necessary equipment and that the broadcasts do not violate the law in terms of content. There is no reason in the world why national broadcasting must be limited to the Galatz army radio station and the IBA.

Technology allows for opening dozens of radio stations on the FM channels. Israel for some unfathomable reason does not yet have satellite broadcasting for cars.

With some legislative effort, which incidentally would probably be supported by quite a few members of the Opposition, the new minister can create a true revolution.

No more the monopoly of the few and powerful, true competition is what we need in the media. One may also assume that such steps would significantly lower the cost of advertisement, allowing more small companies to advertise their wares through the electronic media.

The outgoing minister responsible for public broadcasting left the public broadcaster in shambles. The new board, recommended by the appointments committee chaired by former regional court justice Esra Kamma, has not been approved by the present government. The present law states that the TV tax will be abolished, but without a massive influx of cash from the Finance Ministry (that is, from our pockets) the public broadcaster will not be able to continue operations. The change of guard is way behind schedule, new legislation is needed just to keep the broadcaster alive, and essentially, the present situation is close to anarchy. There is no public supervision of the IBA, and the results are evident.

Broadcasters do as they will, violating basic ethical guidelines. The programming we are receiving, especially on radio, has not improved.

We call upon Minister Akunis, if indeed he is given the opportunity to do so, to thoroughly revamp the public broadcasting law, turning the IBA back into what it should be, a public broadcaster which serves the public interest, rather than an unfair competitor to the commercial broadcasters. Israel (or any other country in the free world) does not need a publicly funded commercial entity. Either liquidate the IBA, canceling all the taxes, or make sure that it keeps its hands off the business world and provides the public with the quality public programming we sorely need.

The same holds true for the army radio station. There is no justification that we can think of for continuing to fund it from the public coffer. Our small country does not need two national public broadcasters. The only reasons it continues its operations is that it serves the needs of the media in providing jobs and lucrative salaries and that it advances a left-wing, post-Zionist agenda.

One can be sure that if the army radio station were to become right-wing, our “democrats” would quickly shut it down. In a true democracy, where checks and balances are essential, the military does not have a national media organ of its own.

We have not even started to delve into other issues, such as providing fair competition between Internet and cell phone providers. Even this has far reaching implications for the average Israeli. For example, if the cost of roaming abroad was reasonable, the average Israeli abroad would have no difficulty following the media when not at home. As the cost of roaming decreases and the quality of Internet broadcasting increases (4th generation services), the need to shell out money to outrageously expensive cable and satellite TV stations diminishes.

The bottom line is that the new minister has the opportunity to create a true revolution in our media life.

Instead of populist slogans such as “I have abolished the TV tax,” a well thought-out program can do wonders for us all.

May 13, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: The media and elections — Britain and Israel

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:09 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The media and elections — Britain and Israel
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 05/13/2015
This past week’s election in England and that in Israel two months ago beg the comparison of what role the media played in each campaign.
The day after the recent elections, this apology was published: “This is the confession of a political journalist. I get paid to know about politics, to explain politics and yes, to predict politics. On this general election, I failed. I got it wrong. I didn’t see this result coming…My job is to tell the people who read me things that will leave them better informed about the subject at hand. And I didn’t do that job as well as I could have done….”

No, that was not an Israeli media pundit like Amnon Abramovitch, Ben Caspit or Yossi Verter, but rather James Kirkup of the UK Daily Telegraph. Did anything similar occur among the many pundits who were predicting a very different result from that which happened on March 17 here? Could it have happened? Or did all simply explain why they were not responsible for the information they were peddling.

This past week’s election in England and that in Israel two months ago beg the comparison of what role the media played in each campaign.

In England, an ongoing Cardiff University media research project found, for example, that the BBC’s election coverage was focused more on policy issues than the other four main broadcasters during one two-week period.

According to a YouGov poll there, almost two-thirds of the public did not think the quality of the British press had improved since the Leveson inquiry which investigated press ethics and law violations (discussed in previous columns). Does anyone think that Israel’s media has improved its political coverage over the years? More relevant to the situation here in Israel, threefifths of the respondents in England lack confidence in the self-regulation system set up by the newspapers and 59 percent support tougher regulation of the press.

The study found support for tougher regulation even among the readers of newspapers that have been most opposed to stronger measures. Mention “regulation” in Israel and you will be abusively attacked.

In an unusual move, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband gave an interview to Russell Brand, a comedian and actor with 9.6 million Twitter followers and his own YouTube channel, and Brand publicly endorsed Miliband. Miliband even tweaked press magnate Rupert Murdoch during the interview, saying: “The British people have a lot more sense than some of these papers give them credit for.” Words that return to haunt. But even London School of Economics media professor Charlie Beckett said Miliband’s move made sense: “Russell may get better cutthrough than Rupert.” The media provided extra spin, mocking Conservative Party leader David Cameron’s attempts to consider Brand and Miliband themselves as a joke.

In the end, Brand’s effect on the voting probably matched that of our own cultural icons, Yair Garboz, Natan Zach and others of the far Left, and drove voters in the opposite direction. The presumptuous self-importance of media-linked personalities took a hit in both election campaigns. The day after the count, they realized that they lived “in a bubble” of their own making, linked with the inability, or worse, unwillingness, to step outside and investigate the real world.

Another failure of perception was provided by David Yelland, a former British newspaper editor, who said, “The era, both here and in the US, of newspapers endorsing candidates and the feeling that that carries weight, that has gone.” We are not sure that Arnon (Noni) Mozes agrees with that opinion. Mozes, the owner and publisher of Yediot Aharonot, led the attacks against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, threw the full weight of his media power and influence behind the campaign to defeat Netanyahu – and continues to do so. His methods are unethical, his media’s professional standards are wanting.

Haaretz continued its own nasty opposition to the Likud and Netanyahu on Sunday, linking Cameron to its perception of how they both won with this headline to Anshel Pfeffer’s “analysis”: “Cameron’s surprising election victory owes a lot to the fear factor, a la Netanyahu.” We thought that the Tory victory was dependent not “a lot” on fear but other factors such as the economy. And if fear was a factor, of what were the Scots afraid that they wiped out the Labour Party north of Hadrian’s Wall? Should analysts not be held to some standard of consistency? The left-leaning Independent predicted that Cameron would use his majority to pursue “a radical agenda” which would cut welfare, shrink the size of the state and re-define Britain’s relationship with Europe. It then quoted, anonymously (as our local media does) “Conservative insiders” that he would move to the Right after years of compromise with the Liberal Democrats.

Reading the minds of political leaders is also practiced in Israel in an attempt to rein in politicians who do not toe the media line.

In England, as Netanyahu did here, politicians attacked the press. Labour politician Sadiq Khan declared: “The problem is if someone reads a hostile paper day after day, after a period of time they might start believing the nonsense that’s being written.” And across the aisle, the government’s culture secretary Sajid Javid accused the BBC of ethics violations. After calling one particular item “very, very anti-Tory” (Scottish comic Rhona Cameron called the Tories a “cancer”), he intimated that the job of changing the way the press is regulated, in an upcoming BBC charter review, would include an investigation into bias. He made it clear that the corporation’s license fee could be cut if his party returns to power (which it did).

Here in Israel, the media response to any attempt by politicians even to raise the subject of change within the media, even the state-sponsored networks, is to have them led to the whipping post. Incidentally, Israel’s Zionist Union co-leader, Isaac Herzog, used the term “virus” in his attack last week on Netanyahu’s coalition maneuvering, but there was no media protest.

On the other hand, as Dror Eydar noted in his Israel Hayom column of April 29, the political figure who Israel’s Left portrayed as a fascist now “is being painted as a romantic figure. [Avigdor] Liberman hasn’t been attacked for the promises he made before the election, for his declarations of supposed commitment to the right-wing camp…Why should they go after Liberman? Because anyone who could smash the Netanyahu coalition is welcomed.”

He listed Yediot’s Nahum Barnea, Sima Kadmon and Shimon Shiffer as the paper’s cheering squad who praised Liberman’s bowing out of the coalition.

Alastair Campbell, formerly Tony Blair’s press spokesman, in a pre-election address, pointed to a central problem media consumers are forced to suffer here as well: “My complaint about newspapers has never been that they are biased…[but that] the broadcasters…allow that bias to impact on them.” There is in Israel our media elite milieu, which accepts mainly the news and views that come from within the milieu.

In England, one paper acknowledged that “at times, like on Thursday, or at the recent Israeli general election, polls get it wrong.” Can we ever expect that the media will get things right?

^

May 6, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: When is violence permitted?

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: When is violence permitted?
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 05/06/2015

Listening to our media this past week, one would get the impression that Israelis are racists who have systematically done all they could to take advantage of the Ethiopians.

One of the bright chapters of Israeli history is the emigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In contrast to many other societies, Israelis welcomed the Ethiopian community wholeheartedly. Many a family took it upon themselves to personally care for Ethiopian immigrants, even though the cultural and social gap was big. Apart from a few exceptions, the religious Orthodox school system made conscious efforts to absorb them. Although much needs to be done, many of the community, and especially the first-generation Israelis, have become successful professionals, in politics, medicine, the military and more.

Listening to our media this past week, one would get the impression that Israelis are racists who have systematically done all they could to take advantage of the Ethiopians without giving anything in return. Indeed, there was the video of violence against a member of the Ethiopian community by policemen.

Such violence cannot be condoned, and already the relevant authorities have taken steps against those responsible.However, was this incident really outstanding and unique? Was this the first time that the Israel Police used excessive force against someone? Hardly. There was the police brutality in Amona in February 2006 against innocent youths whose only crime was demonstrating peacefully, sitting inside nine houses scheduled to be razed. Indeed, a comparison between the Amona events and the demonstrations by some in the Ethiopian community this past week is illuminating.

Police brutality in Amona was very different.

Yehiam Eyal’s skull was cracked by the police, leaving him hanging between life and death.

Miraculously, he survived. Yet this is what Haaretz had to say about the incident in an editorial on February 2, 2006: “On the night between Wednesday and Thursday people prayed for the health of 14-year-old Yehiam Eyal…they accused the police who clubbed him. Yet even those whose heart goes out to the child lying helpless in his bed cannot fail to see the cynicism and viciousness of this emotional manipulation…Even if there was a policeman who used excessive force one may ask what were these children doing at the Amona hilltop on the day of its forceful evacuation?”

In Jerusalem last Thursday and again on Sunday, members of the Ethiopian community clashed violently with the police. In contrast to Amona, where the demonstrators did not raise even a hand against the police, these demonstrations saw violence, too much violence, coming from demonstrators. On Sunday, they closed off the Ayalon highway, causing huge disruptions in traffic, reminiscent of the big demonstration organized by former MK Moshe Feiglin against the Oslo process, back in the summer of 1995. Closing off traffic is not only illegal, it is a violent act. The police, who were quick to arrest any demonstrator during the year preceding the 2005 expulsion from the Gaza Strip and North Samaria who so much as indicated with her or his foot that they intended to block a road, in this case allowed the disruption to take place.

As a thank-you note, the demonstrators proceeded to go to the Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and eventually hurled rocks, bottles and whatnot at the police and then accused the police of employing excessive force. The number of wounded police officers vastly outnumbered the number of wounded demonstrators. All the wounded demonstrators were released from hospital in less than 48 hours; unlike in the Amona case, no demonstrators were seriously hurt.

How did the media respond to the Ethiopians? They employed excessive empathy, going out of their way to show understanding for their actions and motives, reminding us all the while how badly we as a society have reacted to this community. No one asked, for example, who funded the buses that brought thousands to the demonstrations.

Consider the following comment made by Yuval Ganor, the anchor of the 7 a.m. news program on Kol Yisrael, prior to interviewing Knesset chairman Yuli Edelstein on Monday: “As someone who was stuck in the traffic jam resulting from the demonstration, one may say that the majority of the Israeli public is very understanding, identifies with their [the Ethiopians’] feelings.” One wonders what Ganor’s sources of information were. But let us not be so small-minded. Ganor was just expressing his understanding that the media represents the majority of the Israeli public.

Consider a second example: Keren Neubach, also from Kol Yisrael, who opened her 8 a.m. program with her usual personal comments, noted that the country had come to a standstill and that this was a positive development.

It would seem, she added, that nothing will ever change in the shoddy and discriminatory attitude toward the Israeli of Ethiopian descent. One should ask why was it so urgent in that case for the police to disperse the protesters the way they did.

Neubach was not even honest enough to remind listeners that the police acted only after allowing the demonstrators to stop traffic for hours in Tel Aviv.

Niv Raskin on Galatz at 8 a.m. interviewed Genatu Mngistu, one of the organizers of the demonstration. He did not ask him why he should not be jailed for breaking the law and blocking traffic. Rather the questions went as follows: “What was your feeling at the end of the demonstration? That you succeeded in creating an agenda in the media or that someone harmed your struggle? In the aftermath do you think that you will move toward public office? To have influence?” Raskin then interviewed Yaron Ohayon, deputy commander of police in Tel Aviv.

These were his questions: “What were your instructions to the large forces who were there? Did you see groups of anarchists, leftand right-wing organizations who stoked the fires? People talk about the outrageous ease with which the police strike and are violent only due to the skin color, many complaints of this sort have surfaced…,” and so it continued.

The same accusatory style was used by Asaf Liberman, the anchor of the 7 a.m. news program on Galatz.

The truth is that the true racists in this whole sad series of events were the media themselves. Their treatment of the Israeli Ethiopian community was as if they were different from other Israelis. The laws of this country, which outlaw violent demonstrations, seemingly are not applicable to Israeli Ethiopians. The leaders of the demonstrations are not innocent babes, but criminals who illegally stopped traffic, demonstrated without a permit and should be prosecuted for their actions. At the least, these questions should have been posed, but they were not. Rest assured, if these same actions had come from “the settlers,” the calls denouncing them would come from almost everywhere, and justifiably so.

It is not racist to assert that the law applies to all, Israeli Ethiopians, Arabs, haredim (ultra-Orthodox), residents of Judea and Samaria and the homeless. We simply wish to remind our media that, as our sages put it, “Without the fear of government, one would swallow his brother alive.”

^

April 30, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: Of blessed memory

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:35 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Of blessed memory
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 04/30/2015

It is high time that our media understands that our society exists, reinvigorates itself and withstands world pressure only due to people like the recently-passed Rabbi Lichtenstein and Dr. Rosenne.

Two rather unique and even extraordinary people passed away during the past two weeks. Both were over 80 years old and both had impacted Israeli society in many different ways. One is Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, the rosh yeshiva of the Gush Etzion Hesder Yeshiva in Alon Shvut, who with the late Rav Yehuda Amital fashioned a special Torah learning atmosphere for Modern Orthodoxy.

The other is Dr. Meir Rosenne, lawyer, diplomat and ambassador, and a senior member of Israel’s Foreign Ministry staff.

We do not want to compare between the two, nor do we intend to even hint that one has contributed more or less than the other. They contributed to Israeli and Jewish life in totally different spheres. There is, though, one ground for comparison and that is how the Israeli media related to them, both in life and afterwards. And since our local media devoted too little coverage to their deaths, we wish to add some perspective.

Dr. Rosenne, in view of his background as Israeli ambassador to the United States and to France, was frequently interviewed by the media as an expert on foreign affairs. Rabbi Lichtenstein was a very modest person. Radio and television were very far from his milieu; his world was that of Torah. The media was introduced to him, four decades after his arrival in this country, only on the occasion of his being awarded the prestigious Israel Prize last year.

Journalists hardly ever spoke with him (barring the rare event of a journalist who was a former student of his yeshiva).

In contrast to many rabbinical leaders, Rabbi Lichtenstein was the embodiment of a lover of peace and a pursuer of peace.

His brief connection with the dovish Meimad religious-Zionist party was the exception as far as personal political involvement went, although he certainly commented on affairs of state such as the Gaza disengagement and the Temple Mount.

The Har Etzion Yeshiva which he led together with Rabbi Amital was not your characteristic “right wing” yeshiva.

Rabbi Amital was identified with the Oslo process, and served as a minister in Shimon Peres’ government for the six months following the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabbi Lichtenstein was not a leader of the settlement movement, living most of his life in Jerusalem. Yet, not only could he work together with Rabbi Amital, he also appointed Rabbi Yakov Medan as a rosh yeshiva in his place, on the basis of Rav Medan’s Torah knowledge and intellectual prowess. Rav Medan’s strong support of the settlement movement was just not relevant.

There are other aspects of Rabbi Lichtenstein’s life which are noteworthy.

Money did not interest him. A known story is his willingness to cut his salary for the sake of the yeshiva during financially hard times. He was a man of letters, with a PhD in English literature. This should be contrasted with, for example, the Har Hamor Yeshiva (which split off from the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva), where anything having to do with the humanities, especially in a university context, is considered to be strictly forbidden.

Indeed, how many heads of yeshivot in Israel can boast of a PhD? We know only one: Rabbi Dr. Nachum Rabinowitz, who heads the Hesder Yeshiva in Ma’ale Adumim.

One may have thought that such a personality would be used by our media as a model of Jewish life in it broadest sense. Rabbi Lichtenstein was a teacher of tens of thousands, who influenced generations of students, among them leading rabbis and academic figures. Yet, the media was not interested in him, and even when he died, Kol Israel did not think it worth mentioning. It took a plea from Israel’s Media Watch to convince the powers that be there to mention him briefly in the 9:30 a.m. news flash preceding the 10 a.m. funeral.

Dr. Rosenne was a secular Jew. He was born in Romania in 1931 and immigrated to Palestine in 1944. His legal education was at the Sorbonne, where he obtained his PhD in 1957, at the same time also working for the fledgling Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Rosenne was a model public servant.

He was the legal adviser at the Foreign Ministry from 1971 until 1979.

In this capacity, he took part in the truce negotiations between Israel and Egypt following the Yom Kippur war.

In 1978, Rosenne was a member of the Israeli delegation to the Camp David peace negotiations. He then served from 1979 to 1983 as Israel’s ambassador to France. From 1983 until 1987 he was ambassador to the United States.

This overlapped the premierships of both Yitzhak Shamir and Peres.

Rosenne was a public servant trusted by both Right and Left in Israel. This is especially noteworthy considering that recently too many Israeli diplomats abroad have made it a habit to publicly criticize the Israeli government they purportedly serve.

Since then he served in a number of roles: he was president of the Israel Bonds organization, a member of the board of IDB Holdings and, to our pride, served as president of Israel’s Media Watch since 2010.

Rosenne passed away on April 14. The sad news was broadcast on Kol Israel, including a short biography as well as the time and location of his funeral.

It is interesting to note that the Israel Hayom newspaper covered in some detail the funeral of Rabbi Lichtenstein, giving it substantially more space and depth than Dr. Rosenne’s obituary. However, the coverage of both personalities in the media was largely superficial. Both served as role models. Their biographies are very different but also very educational.

Dr. Rosenne entered Israel illegally, during the British Mandate. He was outstanding at the foreign office, understanding that the duty of a civil servant is to serve his government.

Rabbi Lichtenstein came from very different circumstances, having grown up and matured in the United States.

He could have followed in the footsteps of his father-in-law, Rabbi Dr. Joseph B.

Soloveichik, becoming the rabbinical leader and authority of Orthodox Jewry there. He chose the idealistic but hard way of coming to Israel, establishing a yeshiva and dedicating himself to his students in Israel.

It is high time that our media understands that our society exists, reinvigorates itself and withstands world pressure only due to people like Rabbi Lichtenstein and Dr. Rosenne. If we want to continue to exist and safeguard our culture, historical heritage and ethical legacy we must present the proper role models in the media.

Let us be optimistic and hope that our media will pick up the challenge.

^

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