July 29, 2015
|The expulsion of over 8,000 Jews from the Gaza district, and the destruction of all they had achieved and accomplished, took place 10 years ago. In February 2005, Channel 2’s left-wing ideologue Amnon Abramowitz called upon his colleagues to safeguard then prime minister Ariel Sharon.
He used the etrog, which is wrapped to protect it from damage but discarded after Succot, as an example for how Sharon should be treated.
The media blindly followed their “Rebbe Abramowitz” and outdid itself in serving the government.
As Caroline Glick characterized it in her Friday column, the media was in “lockstep” with the government. It was uncritical, mobilized and unprofessional. We would add that it was doubly unethical.
The media at all levels identified with and supported the government’s decision to remove all traces of Jewish life from the three areas of renewed Jewish residency in the Gaza district – Gush Katif, the center and the northern areas as well as four northern Samaria communities. Secondly, most of the media promoted the government line which portrayed the opposition to its plan in a carefully-crafted negative and untruthful fashion.
Were all involved in reporting the process of disengagement kowtowing to the government? No. But those who weren’t faced either peer pressure or government heavy-handedness. At a conference organized by the left-wing Israel Democracy Institute on July 13, three instances of such interference were revealed. Avi Benayahu, then head of the Galatz Army radio station, related that he was ordered by Dan Halutz, the IDF commander-in-chief, to fire Amit Segal, now a Channel 2 TV star. Asked for a reason, Halutz replied, “Every morning he needles me.”
Mordecai Shaklar admitted that his appointment as director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority was canceled after he publicly criticized the media for being more interested in how the settlers would react rather than whether the disengagement was good or bad.
Panelist MK Yinon Magal, then a Channel 10 reporter, posted on his Facebook page that the station’s director sought to keep him off the air as he had expressed sympathy for the Jewish Gaza residents in his broadcasts. He was the only reporter on the roof of the Kfar Darom synagogue yet he was informed that he would be cut off as according to the IDF spokesperson (now Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev) it was prohibited to broadcast from that location.
Channel 2 television’s military correspondent, Roni Daniel, who was unopposed to the disengagement, was quite forthright in a July 17 Makor Rishon interview, describing the media’s overwhelmingly left-wing slant as a “junta of thought police.”
These few observations, it could be claimed, are not necessarily representative.
But the PhD thesis of Anat Roth is.
Roth, is a former field observer for Peace Now who has worked for Labor politicians Ehud Barak, Amram Mitzna and Matan Vilnai and who became a researcher with the Israel Democracy Institute, originally supported the disengagement. The book, Lo Bechol Machir (“Not at any price”), is over 600 pages long and copiously annotated.
It demonstrates that the media ignored collection of behind-the-scenes information, portrayed unfolding events in a demonic manner and worse, too often did so with no factual basis. Roth, now a recent Knesset candidate on the Bayit Yehudi Party list, highlights all this with a multitude of examples quoted directly from the press.
At the Kfar Maimon showdown, on the eve of the disengagement’s final stage, Haaretz was reporting there would surely be a violent confrontation. Ma’ariv’s Ben Caspit termed it “a clash of civilizations.” Others described the protesters in Kfar Darom as using language from the Second Temple period. Moshe Gorali, also with Ma’ariv, called the Gaza residents “the direct continuation of the Jewish zealots… ready, in the name of their faith, to destroy the Jewish commonwealth and bring it down on top of all our heads.”
To the IDI’s Uzi Benziman, then at Haaretz, they were “armed militias [who] pose a challenge to the government’s capability to exercise its authority.”
Dror Eydar, writing in Israel Hayom last Friday, pointed to the early stages leading to the expulsion, describing the media’s behavior as “shameless.”
He notes that in early May 2004 Sharon, buoyed by media polls that predicted a victory for his plan, decided to put the issue up for a referendum among the Likud members, promising that he would abide by the result.
The polls were wrong; Sharon received a resounding “no.” On the day of the vote, Yediot Aharonot, in an op-ed composed by columnist Sever Plocker, tried to sway Likud members to vote in favor of the disengagement.
The next day, Sima Kadmon, in true communist fashion, had it that the Likud was “against the people.” The paper’s Nechama Dueck noted that “the Likud Party has disengaged from Sharon… the rightist, extremist, religious Likud.”
Last week, Emily Amrousi also recounted her experiences as Yesha Council spokeswoman at the time. After a 250,000-strong rally in front of the Knesset demanding a referendum, all the Army Radio interviewer was interested in was a sign that one protester had waved comparing Sharon to Pharaoh.
“The interviewer wouldn’t move past the silly sign,” she fumed. “Not a single listener knew what a quarter-million people had been demanding.”
Amrousi, like Eydar, notes that the dominant media discourse ignored serious discussion of the security implications of the disengagement. “No one asked why,” she said. “Not one of the smart journalists, the thousands of people who work in the field. No one.”
One of her anecdotes is especially illuminating.
In a closed cabinet meeting, then-Israel Police commissioner Insp. Gen. Moshe Karadi asked for additional manpower and justified the request by noting that perhaps some rabbi might rule that his students could shoot at a Druse soldier during the evacuation. The next day, a page two headline in Ma’ariv read, “New halachic ruling: Druse may be shot during evacuation.”
Despite the Yesha Council’s press release that an investigation had revealed that there was no such halachic ruling, the response was not broadcast. “All the TV and radio current events programs dwelt on that made-up nonsense,” she said.
A press conference convened to announce that “Yesha leaders and protest groups say ‘no’ to violence” was a failure. A sticker had been supposedly distributed in the settlements reading: “Sharon, Lily [his late wife] is waiting for you.” Amrousi informed us that the sticker was not “distributed in the settlements” but handed to three TV reporters.
Only months later was there an indictment against the person responsible for printing it – a police officer whose job it was to locate extremists.
This past fortnight we have monitored the media and noticed an increase of items devoted to the failures of the media a decade ago, which is an improvement. But sadly many of those whose conduct was unprofessional then, such as Abramowitz, Kadmon, Dueck and Plocker, continue to pollute our public discourse. A truly free, professional and ethical Israeli press is still far from reach.
July 22, 2015
|Media coverage of the Temple Mount has increased dramatically over the past three years. In the more distant past, only if something extraordinary occurred would there be a media report. For example, if someone in power wished to divert attention from a problem and leaked a hint about an attempt to blow up the Dome of the Rock, the media would splash it across front pages or at the top of the evening news.
As we have shown multiple times in our columns, the battles over the site are portrayed almost exclusively in a frame which, on the one hand, highlights extremism, political recklessness, religious fanaticism and imminent danger and violence – almost all the fault of Jews – while on the other hand those very same themes, when Muslims are involved, are downplayed or ignored. Even worse, often times their responsibility, it is suggested, falls on Jewish shoulders that, it is claimed, shouldn’t have been in the esplanade in the first place.
When the paschal sacrifice exercises are conducted in some faraway Jerusalem neighborhood, with the priests dressed in white and a goat prepared for the slaughter, many media outlets cover the event, but with a smirk.
One major recent exception to this frame resulted from the attempted assassination of Rabbi Yehuda Glick. That story, due both to Glick’s personality and links to the political establishment, was unavoidable. He almost died for the cause.
It was thus a welcome development when Channel 10 news programs, on two separate occasions, devoted many minutes of air time to concerns that usually are not allowed to appear on the screen. The first was aired on Friday night, July 10. Entitled “Cultural Intifada,” it was hosted by senior security affairs correspondent Alon Ben-David and focused on the destruction of archaeological artifacts and historical remains of the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.
The program reviewed almost 20 years of systematic efforts by the Wakf Muslim religious trust authorities to erase and hide anything which preceded the arrival of Islamic invaders and their subsequent 12 centuries of occupation and foreign rule. The program mostly avoided the regular hot political potatoes and asked a simple twopart question: who is ineffectually supervising the holy site and is there truly a policy status quo in place? A professor of archaeology was interviewed, rather than a shlumpy, wild-eyed and ear-lock-crowned youngster.
The correspondent walked about the compound, talked to Muslims and presented a fair reflection of the reality.
Problematic issues were shown and not just referred to.
The shouting of the paid female agents of the Islamic Movement and Wakf were clearly heard and their menacing behavior shown.
The second broadcast, a 20-minute prime-time segment, “Incitement in the Mosques,” was shown on Wednesday, July 15. It followed Zvi Yehezkeli, the network’s highly regarded Arab affairs reporter, as he visited 15 different mosques around the country during this past Ramadan.
He found increasing levels of incitement, against the state of Israel and in particular against Jews, which reached a literal crescendo in the sermons within the Temple Mount compound.
Of course, all this is not new. The various Jewish Temple Mount groups have been publishing pictures of posters, banners, assemblies, rallies and more on social media sites and in the sectoral press but the mainstream media virtually ignored the issue, or worse, attacked the messengers.
Yehezkeli’s report was criticized by Anat Saragusti in the now-independent left-wing-oriented Seventh Eye media criticism website. Saragusti is, nominally, a “journalist.”
She was also a member of the Israeli Black Panthers movement, a photographer and reporter for Uri Avneri’s Ha’olam Hazeh weekly and director of B’Tselem USA. In a word, a neutral and unbiased professional.
Saragusti saw the documentary as a “campaign” with dramatic “teasers” and promo trailers. Her central point, which is well-taken and even Yehezkeli admitted, is that only 15 mosques were presented, and not even all of these were shown to be inciting – although the incitement that was heard was murderous and quite criminal. One might take Saragusti more seriously, though, if she had published a similar piece, say, in relation to the way the media covers “price tag” incidents as being representative of the entire “settler camp,” or the way the media relates to Jewish Temple Mount activists and their activities.
To be fair, we did a Google search. As expected, it turned up nothing in this regard. However, we did locate an op-ed of Saragusti’s from January 12, 2015 on the Saloona website, which criticized death threats made on Facebook against Haaretz journalists. We can recommend to Saragusti several other Facebook accounts, all run by Muslims, as well as a small number of left-wing extremists, which have been threatening to murder Jews for their Temple Mount activity. One of those threatened is a journalist: Arnon Segal of Makor Rishon. Fairness and objectivity should be ingrained in professional journalists – as opposed to professional ideologues masquerading as journalists.
Temple Mount reportage is the antithesis of professional media coverage, which is replaced by a media defense of a status quo policy with respect to the Jews.
As we have noted in our previous articles on the subject, the status quo works only in one direction. It is discriminatory against Jews. Weekly pro-Hamas and pro-Islamic State assemblies, with flags and banners, are held on the Mount.
Terrorists are praised. A fourth, underground mosque was fashioned under the Mughrabi Gate. Last November, following Glick’s shooting, there was an item by Channel 2’s Ohad Hammo interviewing those Muslim ladies who said “[the Jews] have no Temple according to us.” But regular and ongoing coverage is lacking.
Sunday will be marked as the solemn fast of Tisha Be’av, commemorating the destruction of two temples. The media need not adopt an architect’s plan for its rebuilding or champion a new status quo. On the other hand, it should not lend a hand to those who seek to further keep from our consciousness the ongoing destruction, physical and legal, that exists there.
The ever-increasing number of days the site is closed to non-Muslims is another change in the status quo. Why does the media accept that Arabs/Muslims are permitted constantly to create a new “status quo”?
July 8, 2015
|Fifteen years ago, Israel’s Media Watch honored journalist Yoav Yitzchak with the Israeli Prize for Media Criticism. Yitzchak is one of Israel’s most responsible and successful investigative journalists.
Yitzchak was the journalist who revealed that president Ezer Weizmann, while he was a member of Knesset and minister in the Israeli government, received large sums of money from businessman Edward Sarussy and did not report them. After an investigation by the attorney general, Weizmann resigned.
Perhaps his most successful investigative effort concerned former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Yitzchak was the first to expose, in July 2008, that Olmert had received a bribe from the developers of the Holyland project in Jerusalem. His first exposes regarding Olmert came in 2005. In their wake he had to leave his job as a reporter for the daily newspaper Ma’ariv, and the Israeli government stopped advertising on his online news site, “News 1.” The end of the story is known: Olmert was found guilty and it is only the Supreme Court, which is delaying its decision on Olmert’s appeal, which is keeping him out of jail.
Yitzchak is also the journalist who accused the late deputy police commissioner and chief detective Ephraim Bracha of criminal conduct. Yitzchak’s headlines and news columns on his News 1 website regarding Bracha were harsh.
For example, on May 30, Yitzchak’s headline screamed: “Bracha aided in obstructing a criminal process against Galili while both Bracha and Galili were represented by Fisher.”
The subtitle let us know that “a complaint to the police against Menachem Galili and sons accusing him of attempting to blackmail the mayor of Ashdod was denied under the guise of lack of guilt. The lawyer of the complainants demanded to receive the investigative materials in order to appeal. Bracha became involved, even though this was not his formal duty, and prevented the handing out of the records of the investigation. Galili’s lawyer was Fisher. Bracha was also represented by Fisher. An accident? Oh no, conflict of interest, corruption and bribes.”
Fisher in this case is Ronel Fisher, who has been formally prosecuted on 12 counts and is in detention until the end of the judicial process against him. Another lawyer who was representing Bracha is Ruth David, the former head prosecutor of the Tel Aviv district and later Fisher’s partner in his law firm.
David herself is now under investigation for criminal activity while serving as a justice department prosecutor. Bracha, whose job it was to investigate criminals, had a knack for consorting with shady people.
For many years, his rabbi was Yoshiyahu Pinto, sentenced to jail for bribery. Pinto tried to bribe Bracha in 2012 and nine days later, the latter exposed him to the police.
On July 3, Yitzchak’s headline was “Bracha is a danger to the public.”
The subtitle was: “Attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein, who has defended Bracha for a long time, will have to decide in a few days whether to open a criminal investigation against Bracha for obstruction of justice, bribery and fraud and remove him as head of the police fraud squad. If found guilty, Bracha might be sent to prison for many years. The big drama is still ahead of us – the results of the quiet investigation which was opened as a result of the exposés of News 1 will shock the public.”
On July 5, Ephraim Bracha committed suicide.
The shock was indeed large, and the recriminations started flying.
Everyone in the police was full of praise for Bracha, his modesty and honesty. Perhaps naturally, Yoav Yitzchak was accused, either directly or indirectly, of responsibility for Bracha’s death. Gidi Weitz wrote in Haaretz: “The News 1 website held a wild, violent and uninhibited crusade against Bracha.”
The Justice Ministry also joined the chorus by releasing a special communique noting that there was no decision to open up a criminal investigation against Bracha. Specifically, the ministry wrote: “In continuation to the claims of Yoav Yitzchak as though there had been a decision to open a criminal investigation against Officer Bracha, we would like to make it crystal clear that this is an obscene lie, a continuation of Yitzchak’s false reports on this topic.” Yitzchak himself noted, and we were very careful in translating his article, that he never claimed that a decision had been made. He only claimed that a decision would be made soon.
Oded Ben-Ami, in his Channel 2 evening news round-up on Sunday, interviewed Yitzchak. Channel 2’s police correspondent Moshe Nussbaum questioned Yitzchak about Yitzchak’s alleged report that a decision had been made to investigate Bracha. Yitzchak interrupted Nussbaum and did not let him finish his question, noting that he would not allow lies to be further spread about him. Ben-Ami wanted Nussbaum to continue, but Yitzchak, publicly calling Nussbaum a liar, refused, and Ben-Ami took Yitzchak off the air.
In an interview we conducted with Yitzchak on Tuesday, he reiterated his accusation that Nussbaum was a liar. The Channel 2 TV correspondent, he said, had posed a question to the Justice Ministry based on the false premise that Yitzchak had claimed the ministry had decided to investigate Bracha. The ministry, without requesting proof from Nussbaum, then responded as quoted above.
Yitzchak demanded a retraction from the ministry, which has yet to materialize.
The campaign against Yitzchak is fierce and dirty. Mati Golan in a Globes article claimed that the News1 website “was always for Pinto and against Bracha.” The subtitle of Golan’s article was: “There is no escaping the impression that in this case you did not do your work, but that of Pinto.” Unfortunately for Golan, the facts are not on his side. For example, on May 5, the headline in the News 1 website was: “Pinto tried to conquer the judicial system,” with the subtitle: “He used his influence on Bracha, a religious man; bribes were part of a series of actions aimed to obstruct the investigations and the judicial process.”
What Golan kept from the public was that he had been sued in the past by Yitzchak, and forced by the court to apologize publicly to him. Golan, Yitzchak claims, is simply trying to get even with him now.
In the aftermath of Bracha’s suicide, Yitzchak expressed his dismay and sorrow. However, he did not retract any articles nor was he apologetic regarding his journalism. He claimed that he was only carrying out his duty as an investigative journalist.
Yitzchak is not only upset by the personal vendetta against him, but more so by the fact that the investigation against Bracha has stopped and that Bracha is being now touted as a role model by the Israel Police.
We would have expected that the media, which demands freedom of the press, would defend Yitzchak for having done his job, and would call upon the police and the Justice Ministry to pursue the investigation. If Yitzchak’s allegations are true, then there are other people involved. Is the Justice Ministry trying to cover up for someone?
July 2, 2015
|This past Monday, the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee passed a government- proposed amendment to defer the implementation of the new Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) law. The law, adopted just last year, stipulated that by June 30 the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) would be dissolved and the new PBC would immediately begin operating. The necessary bureaucratic steps needed to implement the June 30 deadline were already in place, including the recommendations of the newly formed nominations committee, headed by judge (ret.) Ezra Kama, for the people who would lead the PBC.
But, as happens so many times, especially in a democracy, in the meantime we had elections.
The previous communications minister, Gilad Erdan, who barreled the law through the Knesset in record time, is now the minister of public security and strategic affairs. The communications minister is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he appointed Minister-without- portfolio Ofir Akunis to implement communications policy.
The prime minister decided to temporarily freeze the recommendations of the Kama Committee and give himself time before having to take action.
It is this step which led to Monday’s deferment, giving the prime minister 90 days to decide. As might further be expected, the opposition as well as parts of the media roundly criticized the prime minister, accusing him of wanting to control Israel’s media and make it subservient to him. As Nati Tucker published at The Marker website: “The fear is that now, in order to appoint his people, Netanyahu will bring back the previous law where the appointment of the council and the CEO was in the hands of the politicians. Such interference would violate the independence of the broadcasting authority.”
Is this really the case, or are there some fatal flaws in the present PBC law? In the Economic Affairs Committee discussion, Minister Akunis noted repeatedly that even the name “Public Broadcasting Corporation” is problematic. Just as there is a British Broadcasting Corporation, he said, there should an Israel Broadcasting Corporation. This is not mere quibbling about a name. The law as it now stands raises a number of serious questions, which should be considered very carefully.
The IBA costs the Israeli taxpayer close to a billion shekels per year. As the motto goes, “no taxation without representation.” The taxpayer has a right to determine how her or his money will be spent. In democracies this process is well understood.
We go to the polls, elect our government and give it the power to implement policy. It is the government’s responsibility to see to it that our taxes are well spent. If our representatives do a bad job, they are sent home and someone else comes in their stead.
But this is not the case with the PBC law. In seeming deference to pressure from the media, who always demand that the media be separated from politics, Minister Erdan initiated the formation of the nominations committee. The communications minister appoints the head of the committee, who then appoints two further members and decides together with them who would lead the PBC. The minister can either approve their whole slate or nix all of them. He cannot decide that one or the other nominee is not fit for the job. On the face of it, the minister surrenders his power and subverts democracy.
The law fails those who pay for this service, we the taxpayers, and hands over a state institution to yet another clique. Only this time, one which by law is non-Zionist, marginally Israeli and almost void of any Jewish character.
Why did Erdan propose it? Perhaps it was a political scheme. The minister gives the power of nomination to a respected judge. If the judge makes mistakes, the minister can claim it’s not his fault. At the same time, behind the scenes, the minister can continue with the political appointments. It just so happens that the legal adviser of the Communications Ministry, Dana Neufeld, was present during the deliberations of the nominations committee. If one really wanted to disassociate the nomination from politics, why was she present at committee deliberations? After all, she is beholden to the minister who appointed her his legal adviser.
From personal experience, we know that the committee was mainly interested in finding people that fit the legislative framework dictated by Minister Erdan. This framework assures that the PBC is controlled by managers, not by visionaries.
It is at best meant to assure the financial viability of the PBC, but not much more.
The media and Israel’s Left demand separation of the PBC from political intervention, claiming that political control impedes the freedom of speech and obstructs the ability of journalists to do their job as the watchdog of democracy.
This is why they supported Minister Erdan’s nominations committee. We claim that the nominations committee is a travesty of democracy as it empowers the unelected elites to run a public corporation without being responsible to the taxpayer.
Is there a better system? We would claim that there is. Indeed, the 2012 IBA law which preceded Erdan’s PBC law was based on compromise.
It gave the minister the power to appoint half of the directorate. Is this a good compromise? The answers are not obvious, but the question is certainly weighty enough to justify a decision by the prime minister to give himself some time to study the issue carefully.
The flaws of the PBC law do not end with the nominations process. As indicated by Minister Akunis, the actual goals of the PBC are far from being consensus ones. Why does Israel need a PBC? Why should the public have to shell out close to a billion shekels annually for it? There must be some really good arguments justifying spending so much public money on a public broadcaster. The present PBC law presents nothing of the sort. The word “Zionism” does not appear in the PBC law, just as the word “Israeli” is not mentioned in the title of the PBC. One might think that in view of the international onslaught on Israel and Jews all over the world, an important part of the PBC’s mandate would be to broadcast and maintain an important public dialogue with world Jewry.
The 2012 IBA law stated among other things that the roles of the authority were to “present and document the lives and culture of the citizens of Israel and the Jewish people in the Diaspora” and “to broadcast the Israeli experience to the Diaspora.” Yet the PBC law does not mention the Diaspora even once.
The flaws of the PBC law are sufficient to fill the graduate thesis of an advanced media student.
In this column we just touched the tip of an iceberg. We would recommend that the present PBC law be abolished and replaced by its 2012 predecessor which, though far from perfect, would go a long way toward justifying the required public expenditure for its operation.
June 25, 2015
|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.
June 18, 2015
Didn’t Betar have fascist-looking uniforms in-between the wars in Europe?
Those were members of HaShomer HaTzair in Hrubieshow:
Here are the Betarim:
|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.
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
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
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
|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.