November 24, 2009

Reporting or Managing The News

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:33 pm by yisraelmedad

Israel’s Electronic broadcasting:  Reporting or Managing the News ?

by Yisrael Medad & Prof.  Eli Pollak
Israel’s Media Watch

“The Israel Broadcasting Authority’s obligations as a quasi-governmental institution include: objectivity, prevention of the politicization of the Authority, fairness, equality, no conflict of interests, and integrity in its decisions”.
— Aaron Barak, President of Israel’s
Supreme Court, Speech, May 13, 1996.
Israel’s electronic media sees its role not only to report to its viewers and listeners and to comment on the news, that is, to act as an agent, but to direct and manage the news so as to set the public agenda. The news becomes an instrument to be manipulated.  This is a mobilized media and in the end, one that  presents a danger to democracy.
Israel’s Media Watch

 

1.  Introduction

In the final days of Israel’s 1996 election campaign, Channel One television broadcast for a few days a promo for “Public Poll”, a discussion show which also allowed for the home-viewing audience to “vote” and express their opinions.  The program which was to be aired on Tuesday, May 21, was to have dealt with the topic “The Media – Balanced or Leftist?”.   No one, it seems, thought that the media could possibly be rightist.  In any case, the show, unexpectedly, was canceled Monday, the day before it was to have been broadcast.  The reason published by media reporters was that certain elements within the IBA had expressed opposition to the show’s make-up and guests.

This example highlights the complexity and problematics of researching the topic of Israel’s broadcasting media.  The ability of senior employees of the IBA to prevent an open and public discussion of such an issue and to remove it from the public agenda points to the fact that the media has engaged itself not only in reporting the news but to manage and direct that public agenda.

This study is intended to describe the increasing influence of the broadcast media on the political life of the state of Israel and the bias that exists in its reporting and its management of public affairs deliberations – the very essence of democratic dialogue for which the press assumes responsibility by championing the public’s right to know.

2.   Israel’s Broadcast Media – An Overview

Until 1965, the broadcasts of Radio Kol Yisrael were administered a government unit within the Prime Minister’s Office.  In that year, the Broadcasting Authority Law was passed, creating an independent body to produce electronic broadcasts although the Director-General and the members of the Public Council of the IBA, the “plenum”, are appointed by the Government.  The law was expanded in 1969 to accommodate the reality of television broadcasting which first began that year.

A full 85% of the IBA’s budget (700 NIS in 1998) is based on a fee paid by the public for every television set and radio they purchase.

In 1990, an additional piece of legislation was passed which established a Second Radio and television Authority which broke the monopoly long enjoyed by the IBA, a quasi-government institution.  Although the Second TV Authority is commercial and funded through advertising revenue, it too is supervised by a public committee appointed by the Minister of Education and Culture.  The Second Channel’s news programs are produced by a company formed by the station’s three broadcast production concessionaires which, together, provide its budget.

The IBA broadcasts one terrestrial TV station, Channel One, and another, Channel 33, which is cable.  The programs are mainly in Hebrew with a fixed Arab-language schedule.  The radio broadcasts include some dozen stations including seven in Hebrew, one beamed to the Diaspora, another for Russian and Ethiopian immigrants and others for educational purposes.  The Second Authority provides one terrestrial TV station, Channel Two, a cable station, Channel 23, intended for educational programming and some 15 local and regional radio stations.

The broadcasts of the Israel Educational Television Network (IET), considered a integral unit of the Education Ministry and responsible to the Minister, are carried over both the First and Second TV channels during the morning and afternoon hours.  The Defense Minister is responsible for the Israel Army Radio (Galatz) which broadcasts on both AM and FM frequencies. In a formal sense, the non-army programs of Galatz are supervised as to media ethics standards by the IBA’s executive committee, as set forth in Paragraph 48b of the IBA Law.

Another media phenomenon which should be noted is that of radio stations which have not received their frequency  through lawful procedure.  The veteran Israeli peace activist, Abbey Natan, began transmitting from a ship anchored off-shore in the early 1980s, following the Lebanese Campaign.  In 1988, another station, Arutz 7, followed suit.  At present, according to Ministry of Communications reports as well as police announcements, it is thought that approximately 120-140 additional stations broadcast from land. These stations reflect mainly Arab, ultra-Orthodox and Oriental music lovers.  They provide transmission content which cannot be adequately found in the official public broadcast stations.

Referring to this, Professor Rina Shapira, Chairperson of the IBA (1995-98), commented during a special seminar held at the Israel Democratic Institute:

“We do not maintain an adequate dialogue with various communities and therefore, a religious network, and a Russian network and a Shas network will may arise.  The television [broadcasts] do not even attempt to reach a common denominator.  (1)

For all intents and purposes, the electronic broadcast media in Israel, that is, the radio and television, are “public”.  The first reason for that is that the government appoints the public representatives to the supervisory committees of the two authorities.  Secondly, the vast majority of the current affairs and news broadcasts are run by government-related bodies.  It was only in January 1998 that regional radio stations were permitted by law to broadcast independently news programs not originating in the news rooms of either Kol Yisrael or Galatz.

Still, Israel’s High Court of Justice has not deviated from its judicial tradition to uphold the supreme independence of broadcasting’s freedom of expression.  The Court has minimized to the utmost any possible interference in the internal editorial decisions and judgments of the various media, acting according to the principle of no prior restraint.

So Where Is Public Broadcasting?

There are those who are of the opinion that instead of public broadcasting, what has ultimately evolved over the years is an unwelcome development in the nature and practice of Israel’s electronic broadcasting.

One outspoken critic of the broadcast media, and especially the IBA, is Ben-Dror Yemini. According to Yemini, who defines himself as a leftist and opponent of the Likud government’s social and settlement policies, there exists a despotism in the public broadcast field and has termed several of its leading personalities as “broadcast barons”.  He has described the relationship between the public and the presumed public broadcasting system as:

“public broadcasting is broadcasting in which the public holds stock and asserts supervision…in the public sense, the stockholders are all  the citizens that pay the license fee and other taxes.  But when it comes to the public sphere, these stockholders [unlike members of a company directorate] possess no supervision and neither to their representatives possess any real control.  The barons and hooligans of the freedom of expression…warn us of ‘political interference’ in broadcasting…they desire that the ‘freedom of expression’ remain as their private domain… there is a need to strengthen the public broadcasting also by allowing the public’s representatives greater power in the supervisory bodies. And this must take place in order that freedom of expression be increased as well as limiting the freedom to express”.  (2)

In another of his articles following upon the Gabi Butbol Affair (2*), Yemini published the following:

“the First Television Channel…belongs to Masuda from Sderot  just as  belongs to Fatma of Arar’ah and Motti from Rehavia.  There are those in the IBA who do not prepared to accept this basic fact.  For them, it is assumed that ‘freedom of expression’ is their own private fiefdom and that only they can do what they want with it.  Anyone who seeks to say something different becomes in their eyes a danger to democracy and to the country. In the framework of this brainwashing, they make sure that only what they want is said…media democracy is not just the ratings but the democracy of representatives who will bring about that the media provide expression for all in a variety of public preferences.  In the present condition, when the power is in the hands of a clique, the result is tyranny”. (3)

And in another piece on the affair, Yemini wrote:

“the believers in freedom of expression have become those who hide information. An affair that should have reached newspaper headlines, has become something that never was…indeed, freedom of expression is an important foundation in democratic society.  If the collective silencing of this unfortunate affair reflects the freedom of expression in Israel, then we have a serious problem.  Liberal terrorism has bested democracy, and in the same opportunity has buried freedom of expression”.  (4)

Another element of the cultural restrictiveness exercised by the electronic broadcast system is the obsessive chase after news and the emphasizing and what many would consider the constant rehashing of current affairs.  Kol Yisrael’s main radio station, Reshet Bet, which boasts the highest listener rating, broadcasts every weekday over 11 hours of news and discussion programming between 6AM and 12:15 AM.  This includes four hours of back-to-back interview shows between 8 AM and 12 AM and seven hours of studio roundup and one hour devoted to analyzing foreign news reports..

The situation in Galatz is not much different.  Every weekday, between 7 AM and midnight, the Army radio station broadcasts four hours of back-to-back interview shows, paralleling those of Reshet Bet, and another four hours of studio roundup.

The average listener cannot then escape the frame of reference which is set by the radio directors which is a veritable tom-tom of news and current affairs discussion and interviews with politicians and other leading personalities, minute after minute, hour after hour, over and over.

3.  The Ideological Identity and Credibility of Israel’s Media

In an article which appeared in The Seventh Eye, the bimonthly magazine devoted to media criticism, edited by Ha’Aretz columnist Uzi Benzamin and published by the Israel Democracy Institute, Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s leading newspapermen, related to the matter of the character identity of Israel’s media in the aftermath of the 1996 elections:

“It is doubtful whether the majority of the journalists were to be considered ‘with Peres’, but for sure they were anti-Netanyahu… Netanyahu had to overcome a hostile media”  (5)

This realization that, as Barnea further pointed out, that “Netanyahu was forced to deal with two fronts – against the Labor Party and against the media”, stems from an open secret and that is that the overwhelming majority of journalists, reporters, editors, interviewers, radio and TV talk show hosts as well as broadcasting directors and producers can be defined, in Israeli terms, as “leftist”. This definition includes the adoption of political, economic, social and religious viewpoints that place them within the leftist camp.

This camp was delineated by Chanoch Marmari, editor of the prestigious liberal Ha’Aretz:

“We, the people who populate the printed and electronic media, belong to a small, elitist, well-off, urban and secular group.  The press…tends naturally to lean towards those political elements that express and fulfill these positions, most of them within the sphere of the Labor-Meretz parties.  The media followed with support and even enthusiasm the peace process…it was not difficult to distinguish the natural bias of many media personnel towards the political left and an almost fully comprehensible sympathy in favor of the peace makers – Rabin and Peres”  (6)

The apprehension that the electronic media would unfairly intervene in the 1996 election campaign caused a group of leading intellectuals and literary figures, from the full spectrum of Israeli political opinion, to publish a newspaper advertisement on both May 1 and 2 in the three main dailies. The ad, entitled “Out of Concern for Israel’s Democratic Character”, (7) called upon Israel’s media professionals “to place the obligation to democracy and political fair play above your personal inclinations for this or that side.  Journalists must draw a clear line between their right to express their opinions in op-ed columns and between their tasks as news editors and interviewers”.  The ad, as expected, stirred up public controversy regarding the ideological identity of media personnel in Israel.

On May 2, 1996, Shelly Yechimovitz, broadcasting on her Kol Yisrael’s Reshet Bet station interview program, forthrightly stated that “let’s be open about it for a moment, and admit to the simple fact that most of the media persons in Israel are leftists.  Left?  They either vote Labor or Meretz”.  Her guest, then IBA Director-General, Mordechai Kirschenbaum, reacted and said, “I don’t want to deal in statistics.  I am not sure that in the IBA, throughout its stations, that that is the situation.  But it is true that most of the journalists, not only here but most newspeople throughout the Western world are very liberal people.  They are people who are very liberal, and avant-garde and open-minded and due to this, it is quite possible that there are perceived as being identified as being Left”.

Ms. Yechimovitz, one of the media’s outstanding personalities (8) has constantly been outspoken on this matter with no guilt feelings.  In an interview with Oshrat Kotler of the Second Authority (9), Yechimovitz was adamant on the leftist orientation of the Israel media:

“…I also do not believe in objectivity.  This is a hypocritical and mendacious term…(and concerning) this claim that ‘the media is leftist’…the time has come to admit to the facts – the media is indeed leftist.  Place a ballot box in any media office and the results will be clear: from center to the left.  The press dialogue in Israel is not a public dialogue and the alienation that exists between the public and the media reaches new heights every day. There is total lack of confidence…and it’s true…the sole solution to this alienation is the entry of right-wing journalists into the media.  “The mobilization of the media in 1992 in favor of the election of Rabin was an unprofessional mobilization, clearly.  The ‘Operation Grapes of Wrath’ for example, that problematic campaign, did not receive the criticism due it because Shimon Peres was Prime Minister at the time”.

During a discussion evening open to the public hosted by the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem on January 11, 1996, Hebrew University’s Professor Ehud Sprinzak, a noted observer of Israel’s right-wing politics, confirmed that the claims that Israel’s media was hostile to the rightist camp were basically correct.  According to his interpretation, this hostility stemmed from the culture weltanschauung of the media personnel more than any strictly  political bias.

After the elections, Ha’Aretz political reporter Orit Galili, was a guest on the media critique program “No Man’s Land” that was devoted to analyzing the media’s performance during the elections.  Asked to comment, Galili said:

“The press was completely mobilized on behalf of Peres, absolutely so…I feel personally a professional failure and I think that the failure was collective… the milieu of the regime and the journalists together, and with the campaign managers, when they all rubbed shoulders one with another, and each feeding off the other, [led] in the end one could see what was in the guts of the people. The preference of the media was for Peres…the solution is more limits, more criticism, more listening.” (10)

On that same program in the following year, the political commentator of Ma’ariv, Menachem Chami Shalev, admitted that “it was no secret that most of the journalists did not support Netanyahu”. (11)

The prime example of a media person combining his ideological leanings and his professional work is Aharon Goldfinger, the former producer of the “Popolitika” program, the central current affairs show on Channel One. Upon the conclusion of the broadcast of the program on November 6, 1995, two days after the assassination of Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Goldfinger declared “I will pursue them, the Likud, and you can even quote me on that”. (12)  In rising anger at the way the regular panel members performed in not attacking the Likud aggressively, he shouted at them that as long as he was producer of Popolitika, no program under his supervision would allow the right-wing to win. (13)

It was, ironically, Shimon Peres, in a televised interview, who expressed the general exasperation of many politicians, both left and right, at the lack of media credibility.  In response to a report by the senior commentator of TV’s Channel One, Amnon Avramovitz, Peres retorted:

“Who says that this material is at all reliable?  And I tell you, the time has  come for the press to step down off its pedestal of ‘faked martyrdom’ and become responsible for what it reports.  This is a calamity what they are doing”. (14)

Public Opinion vis-a-vis the Media

A poll conducted by the Geocartographia Institute, at the behest of the a local news weekly (15), amongst a representative selection of 620 interviewees, responded to questions dealing with the political leanings of the television media personnel of both channels.  The results were as follows:

a)   Mabat – 28% – neutral; 33% – leftist; 8% – rightist.
b)   Hadashot – 41% neutral; 19% – rightist; 9% – leftist.

Another poll, this time from the Gallop Organization, was commissioned by IMW, showed that, like the previous one, that most Israelis consider their media to be leftist.  Carried out on June 6, 1996 amongst 505 interviewees of the adult Jewish population, the replies were very informative.

Asked “did the electronic media prove itself objective during the election?”, 50% said no; 39% said yes; 11% had no opinion.  Of those who believed the media was not objective, 74% believed they favored the left-wing; 6% thought they favored the right-wing and 8% had no opinion.  A third question was asked about reporters involving their own political outlooks in their work.   Twenty-six per cent said to a large degree; 44% said yes; 18% responded no; 4% said not all and 8% had no opinion.  They were also queried whether they would support, given the nature of electronic media as a public network, a private media company broadcasting news programs.  Sixty-six per cent said yes; 22% opposed and 12% had no opinion.

Dr. Yaakov Katz, director of the Community Research Institute of Bar-Ilan University, the sole pollster to predict exactly the nature of Netanyahu’s election victory, published results of a survey collected in December 1996. Asked if Israel’s mass media networks relate in an objective fashion to the activities of the Netanyahu government, 77% replied in the negative and 17% in the positive.  The representative sampling was 1250, a larger-than-usual number.  Another survey published in the summer of 1996, the results of which were broadcast on the “Another Matter” current affairs program on Kol Yisrael, showed that despite the fact that while some 90% of the populace believes that the mass media is necessary, 50% consider the media to be leftist, unfair and that its freedom should be restricted in some fashion.

Yet another poll whose findings were broadcast on that same program on January 16, 1997 indicated that while a majority consider the electronic media to be more reliable than the written press, 83% of those polled thought that the media should limit itself to simply reflecting reality by reporting the news and not be engaged in criticism.  The television received the highest rating of media instruments that influence, 78%, but nevertheless, only 38% were of the opinion that its reports were credible.

A Gallup poll taken amongst a sampling of 497 persons from the adult Jewish population (16) asked “to what degree you have trust in the following institutions?”.  The media ended up in last place following the IDF, the Supreme Court, the police and the Knesset.  The specific breakdown was: 13% – full trust; 16% – trust; 40% – certain trust; 14% – little trust; 15% – no trust and 2% with no opinion.  On that same theme, the “Peace Index Project”, conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel  Aviv University, released data on its own poll on the public’s trust in state institutions (17).  The findings, supervised by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann and executed by Modiin Ezrahi, indicated that whereas the court system received a 78% rating and the police 70%, the media received only 53%.  In a previous “Peace Index” survey published in August 1996, the media received but 49% of the public’s trust.

Orit Shochat, a political commentator for the Ha’Aretz daily, published an article which confirmed that leftists themselves are quite well aware of the general perception identifying the public broadcasting system with left-wing ideology.  She wrote, in part:

“Every time the right achieves power, it is dismayed to discover that the reporters, the news presenters and the talk show hosts remain in  the Left…the problem is that even after they privatize [the IBA], the  majority of the media will remain leftist in spirit.  Journalists, directors, satirists, producers, show hosts and broadcasters in Israel and the world, in public as well as commercial networks, tend to position themselves to the left of the political map”.

And Shochat adds:

“this is a sociological fact” (18)

Ron Meiberg, writing about the period of Summer-Fall 1996, provides the source for the public’s opinion that Israel’s mass media is left: “As journalists and as opinionated people, we never were so mobilized to bring down the Prime Minister and to hold up for show his idiotic behavior. In the meantime, this hasn’t turned out the way we wanted, and the public is not displaying any love for us”.  (19)

Meiberg, along with his companion columnist, Amnon Dankner, pointed out another instance of the sympathetic attitude shown to fellow leftists, unlike their relationship with anyone from the right:

“The charge sheet brought against Shimon Sheves, who served as the country’s boss [in his position as Director-General of Prime Minster Rabin’s office] before we loved to hate Evette Liberman [the former D-G of Netanyahu’s office], carries on his back not a little of the feeling [about regime corruption].  That the media, being just slightly left (joke), reports on Sheves as if we are referring to a medical bulletin on a survey made about a drug to heal diabetes, is doing a great favor to the Labor Party”.  (20)

The Media’s Style and Its Influence on Its Credibility

In an article published in a media periodical, Dr. Dan Boneh defined Israel’s media as a “communicatator” and spelled out his criticism:

“Indeed, the communicatator in all its finery – or, if you wish, a media gone mad, a media gone dizzy in gorgeous feathers, which crowns itself and takes credit for all sorts of achievements that are but losses – its influence on its viewers and public opinion being destructive, negative and insulting. Instead of  ‘democracy’s watchdog’, guarding ‘the public’s right to know’, we have a despotic media which encourages shallowness and populism, simplicity and extremism, an atmosphere of shouting and violence.  All this hampers the ability of the public to clarify and know, to consider and think, to uncover and receive information, not because the public in uninterested, but that the  communicatator is not interested in allowing it to do so”.  (21)

Yizhar Smilansky, outstanding author and prize-winner, , also felt pressured to relate to Israel’s media style.  In an op-ed piece (22), the former Labor MK found an original way to express his repulsion and called out: “People!  Don’t Go to the Television!”.  His forthright criticism included the following literary gems:

“They will invite you there so as to shut you up.  They will mock you, they will torment you…all the interviewer needs is one sentence…and after you have uttered it, your job is finished.  And if you stammer on or attempt to clarify or, God forbid, suggest another direction, you’ll be tossed out immediately, thank you.  You’re despised and out…they’ll obliterate you before you take a breath before speaking; you’re despised before you begin and if you do not utter the line they expect you to say, they’ll turn you into stupid fools”.

As if in support of Smilansky’s view, Yaakov Achimeir, veteran IBA reporter and news presenter, published conclusions about his experience as Channel One’s Washington correspondent during 1995-1997:

“here in Israel, the screen serves as a ring where pure poor taste is defended… by us, interviewers act with roughshod antagonism…[doing so] so as to please the circle of friends and those who share their political and social outlook”. (23)

The Public’s Representatives vs. The Professional Staff

One of the major elements which underlay the workings of a public broadcasting networks the existing tension between the professional staff, who are daily involved in the production and transmission of hundreds of weekly hours of programming, and those persons appointed to perform the function of the public’s representatives.  Galatz, the Army Radio station, and the Educational Television network are supervised directly by the relevant ministries rather than any public council. The Second Authority Law stipulated the existence of a public council but the authors of this report were unable to review accessible primary documentation.  The situation at the IBA is different.

In the IBA’s Plenum Report covering the period October 1995-October 1996 a whole section is devoted to this tension.  Professor Rina Shapira writes there that this matter is an in-built dilemma which stems from the definition of the IBA as a public institution.  According to Shapira,

“[there exist] two essential difficulties regarding the role fulfillment of the executive committee, both interrelated:  the first is the political make-up of the committee and the second is the interpretation of the committee’s role as administrator or setting of policy of the authority [by the authority’s own employees]”.  (24)

Further in the report, Shapira describes a complex and confrontational relationship between the senior professional employees of the IBA and the public representative.  Beyond the claim of guilt by “political” association, Prof. Shapira notes that not only were ethical code standards violated but that proper and correct administrative and managerial aspects of the IBA’s work were not carried out. Reading the report, as well as the items in the press published by media critics, one gains the impression that the senior directors depreciate all criticism by labeling it as “political interference”, enabling them to cover up failures of management, financial and organizational.  Shapira sums up and points out that “the blur that exists in the IBA Law [regarding] questions of authority and responsibility over the various bodies made our work difficult”.  (25)

A recent incident well illustrates the complexity of this nebulous formulation of responsibility.  For over two decades there has existed an informal understanding, confirmed in the minutes of plenum meetings of that period, that there is a status quo whereby the IBA plenum defines broad policy decisions and operational guidelines.  The professional staff, however, is solely responsible for matters relating to editorial decisions, management concerns and personnel appointments.  The plenum, it is understood, does not deal in removing a news presenter nor does it dictate who will host a specific show.

However, when Kol Yisrael’s director, Amnon Nadav, decided during July 1998 to alter the structure of a weekly program devoted to legal and judicial affairs, as well as replacing the presenter, the person in question, Moshe Negbi, appealed to the Jerusalem District Labor Court.  He claimed that according to the law, the only institution that has the right to alter his standing is the plenum; not the radio’s director.  The judge concurred and as of this writing, the appeal judgment has not been handed down.  But be that as it may, the status quo had been dearly adhered to by left wing politicians who had successfully sought to ward off various attempts by representatives of the nationalist camp politicians to fire or transfer veteran IBA employees with whose style and content they did not agree. Now, to avoid being removed, Negbi, a radical liberal whose personal newspaper columns do not hide his political and social outlook, was willing to overturn  the decades-old standoff which, also, is in contradiction to several decisions of the High Court of Justice (26).  All this has been a further major contribution to the blurring of the lines between the IBA’s plenum members and the persons they are bound by law to supervise.

In another sphere, one of the problems that prevent the managers of the Arutz 7 national radio station from accepting the offer to enter into the Second Authority’s regional radio setup is their fear of the extent of the authority’s supervisory powers.  The Arutz 7 managers are concerned that in the guise of administrative restrictions that their right of expression would be severely curtailed.  As a result, the station prefers to spend some one million dollars annually on the upkeep of an off-shore ship as well as broadcasting over an unofficially obtained frequency rather than submit themselves to the proffered arrangement.  This lack of trust is an additional symptom in the charged atmosphere existing between the broadcasting bodies and the supervisory institutions responsible for maintaining  ethical standards as set out by law and secondary legislation.

4.    The Media Treatment of the Oslo Process

Beginning in late August 1993, at the time when the first news items began appearing  about an agreement reached between Israel and the PLO, the media treatment of this story – in  terms of relaying factual news, the setting-up of interviews and commentary – was sympathetic  and mores, protective.

The television Channel One’s main weekly political panel program, “Popolitika”, was  researched by IMW during the months March-July 1995 for a total of 19 broadcasts.  The  statistics pointed conclusively to a clear bias in presenting the views held by the public regarding  the Oslo Process.

The program suffered an obvious lack of balance both in the amount of representative  opinions expressed by the guests as well as the time devoted to the variety of their opinions.  The permanent panel of three journalists, who set the tone for the show, was unbalanced in the  extreme.  Out of a cumulative total of 61 appearances by the panel members, only two spoke  out against the process.  This is an important element as it is the panel which creates the show’s  character by not only asking the guests the questions but in their license to state their own  opinions.

In addition, the amount of time divided between coalition and opposition members of  the Knesset, the amount of appearance of Ministers and MKs and the promoting of public  personalities to the detriment of others all contributed to the lack of balance.

For example, Shimon Peres, the Foreign Minister, was afforded three unique  appearances, for unusual extended periods of time, without any other guests at the table, all of  them following terror attacks on Israelis.  Over more than half a year, he was the sole politician  to be granted such a platform.  This, for all intents and purposes, was turning “Popolitika” into a  mouthpiece for the government.  The television screen had be conquered. Meretz Minister  Shulamit Aloni starred in the program.  The selection of themes to be discussed consistently  favored the government’s policy.

Another IMW research paper reviewed 22 programs of the “Yoman” Friday night  weekly news summary show.  The show presents an in-depth treatment of the week’s news  items.  The paper dealt with five months of broadcasting between March-July during 1995.  This show too displayed a biased approach on behalf of the government spokesmen in terms of  the time permitted them to put their case across, the amount of their appearances as well as  questionable editing methodology.  Another study on the treatment, during one week, of a  campaign slogan issue on Jerusalem, again indicated, this time on both the First and Second  Channels, a clear preference for the Labor-Meretz coalition point of view.

The “Yoman” program also initiated a basic personal-view column which introduced  formal editorializing in the guise of commentary.  Mr. Amnon Avramovitz, an enthusiastic  supporter of Oslo, was allowed to dominate the column, entitled “Accounting”, expressing his  own outlook to a large audience on a public broadcasting network.  A petition to the High  Court of Justice, 4453/95, with the Chief Justice sitting in session, did not correct the inherent  imbalance.  Avramovitz appeared, in a period of over a year, in more than 85% of the columns  broadcast despite the fact that the IBA committed itself before the judges to maintain the  balance and variety obligated by the law.

The general public support for the Oslo Process was made possible by the letter signed  by the PLO’s Arafat and addressed to Yitzhak Rabin whereby the PLO Chairman committed  himself to invalidate those elements of the Covenant which were incompatible with the peace  accord.  In April 1996, two and one-half years later, then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres  announced that Arafat had canceled the Covenant, calling it an event of historic proportions.  The opposition lambasted Peres, saying that the Covenant had simply undergone a sleight-of- the-hand maneuver, actually be shunted off to a sub-committee of the PA’s legislative council  Only one journalist, Uzi Benziman of “Ha’Aretz”, published claims by MK Benny Begin, backed  up by filmed material of the PA council session and other statements from Palestinian sources  that were not only all but ignored by the rest of the Israel media but ridiculed as well.

Recently, in an article published in the “Ma’ariv” daily (27), Joel Singer, the special Oslo  legal advisor at the time, revealed that not only was Begin correct in his suspicions but that  Peres himself was an active participant together with Arafat in creating the illusion that the  Covenant was altered, thus permitting Arafat to avoid fulfilling his obligations under the terms  of the Oslo accords.  Begin’s opinion on the behavior of the media was biting:

“the media joined in on the scam most willingly.  Laziness, negligence, as well as political interests linked up together.  Except for Uzi Benziman, no one  stood up to ask, to press, to investigate”. (28)

MK Begin was involved in another affair in which the media was perceived as serving  the personal preferences of various editors and reporters rather than the public’s right to know.  Beginning in late January 994, Mr. Begin became aware of the existence of video tapes in which  were recorded speeches of Yasser Arafat in the Arabic language.  In these appearances, Arafat  used terminology that was far from the expected language of peace in accordance with the Oslo  accords.  In fact, Arafat was expressing himself in the most maximalist positions as championed  in the PLO Covenant, including allusions to armed struggle, that is, terror.

Begin repeatedly attempted to interest the editors of the two main television  news  programs.  He asked to be interviewed and that selections from the tapes be broadcast.  As he  later recalled (29 ), some four months passed before he was afforded air time on Channel One.  Interestingly enough, the reason he finally managed to appear was that Shimon Peres, in a  session of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, has accused Begin of dealing  in tampered tapes, suggesting that Begin was being less than honest as to the contents of  Arafat’s speeches.  It was this angle, that perhaps the tapes were worthless, that interested the  news editors.  It was possibly their hope that the tapes would prove unsubstantiated.

Once a month, for over four years, the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Studies at Tel  Aviv University has been publishing a “Peace Index” on various issues, political, social and  cultural, related to the evolving peace process.  The project is headed by Professor Efraim Yaar  and Doctor Tamar Herman and the public opinion poll itself is carried out by the Modiin Ezrachi  firm.  The Ha’Aretz newspaper faithfully provides full coverage to the monthly report.  Unlike  other polls, the Peace Index includes in its representative sampling residents of kibbutzim and  the communities in Judea and Samaria.

The July 1998 Index included two questions regarding the performance of the media  within the Oslo peace process.  The first question was: “does the Israeli media influence the  public’s support of or its opposition to the peace process?”.  The answers were

Not at all 11%  Not much 22% Significantly 28% Greatly 34% No opinion 5%

The second question was: “in your general opinion, does the Israeli media report objectively  about the peace process or are its reports biased more to the support of the process or more in  opposition to it?”.  The replies were as follows:

Tend to support 46% Tend to oppose 13% The reporting is objective 34% No opinion 7%

These results point to the trend amidst the general public which considers the media  itself to be a player of the political stage, involved and influencing that what is happening.  The  size of the headline, the favorable commentary, the “little” stories from behind the scenes, the  minimizing of certain news items among other instances are the instruments which were  manipulated by the media in its efforts to create a positive public opinion relating to the peace  process.

Another method of managing the news was the publishing of derogatory commentary, bordering on the ridiculous.  Following the revelation of Arafat’s infamous Johannesburg speech in May 1994, in which he called for the faithful to practice jihad, Amnon Avramovitz quoted approvingly the words of Shlomo Gur, then assistant to Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin, who said in response that the recording “reminded me of a recording of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef [the Shas Rabbinical mentor]”. (30)  The Second Television Authority’s satire program, “Chartzufim” [in ‘Spitting Image’ style], was criticized for its treatment of Arafat, turning him into an almost lovable and cute doll, easing his acceptance as a cultural icon by the Israeli public.

Ari Shavit summed up the positive relationship that the media had developed vis-a-vis the Oslo process thus:

“In present-day Israel, there exists an almost absolute identity between those persons dedicated to the idea of peace, in its most radical-dovish version, and the journalists, lawyers and academics who are charged with setting the civil and legal norms and on the flow of information…a certain camp, very well defined, fulfills three or four functions: they are the players, the judge, they report and they explain the process on the various media outlet”.  (31)

In a report composed by Israel Media Resource director, David Bedein, and who was present at most, if not all, the press conferences held during the first two years of the Oslo process, can be found several instances in which the media preferred to skip over uncomfortable issues, ignoring to report them.  These included the non-condemnation of terror acts, the matter of the invalidation of the Palestinian Covenant, the extradition of murderers, the unclarity expressed by Palestinian spokespersons when relating to the “Right of Return” and the continuation of the “armed struggle”.  One especial case was the refusal to report on and analyze the agreement worked out in Egypt in December 1995 between Arafat and the Hamas which provided the latter with the ‘green light’ to kill.  Bedein notes the use of superlatives when describing diplomatic moves during the talks on the Declaration of Principles (DOP), when media personnel employed semantic weapons to convince their audience.  Another case in point is the preferential treatment afforded certain research institutes,  which supported the Oslo route, which then had their research fellows appear on the broadcasting media.

Reporters who dared to criticize the process or to publish unfavorable reports were pressured in certain ways to change their tune or to risk a deep freeze.    For example, Bedein claims that after Ehud Ya’ari, IBA’s Arab affairs senior correspondent, was interviewed in Ma’ariv in May 1994, and strongly criticized the Israeli negotiating team’s conception, he never repeated his criticism as if he was forced to recant.  He found a sort of refuge for independent thought when he published English-language articles critical of the Oslo process in the Jerusalem Report.

Pinchas Inbari, reporter and commentator on Arab affairs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (YESHA) for the now  defunct Al HaMishmar daily, expressed professional frustration in private conversations.  He complained that the editorial line adopted by his paper mostly ignored the essence of the material he was reporting, obtained from central figures in the Palestinian and PLO leadership.  Inbari rarely, if ever, appeared on the electronic media and was not given a chance, unlike many other print journalists, to air their views over the electronic broadcasting networks.

Another aspect of media bias is the hostility displayed by certain media persons against one particular ideological-political camp.  The antagonism shown towards the Israelis resident in the administered territories beyond the former Green Line by reporters in their news items was clearly expressed in the framework of their stories on Oslo.  Only recently, Guy Kotev, Kol Yisrael’s territories’ reporter, allowed an insight into the heart of the Israeli media and its approach to the question of the Jewish residents in YESHA.  Interviewed on Kol Yisrael (32 ), Kotev admitted to Shelly Yechimovitz, that the media’s dealing with actions conducted not always within the confines of the law by Jews versus those accomplished by Arabs is always louder and more extensive.  He also revealed that many Arab acts of low-level violence against Jewish residents never were reported in any minimal form.  This, he made clear, was due to the personal preferences of the reporters and their editors.

Many complaints are to be found in IMW files regarding the lack of professional ethical behavior in the reporting on issues connected with the so-called “settlers” and their life in their communities.  One special item, for example, was a report broadcast in August 1995 dealing with water scarcity in the Hebron area (see 7F below).  Despite the fact that it was brought to the attention of the IBA ombudsman that the story first broadcast on the Yeoman show, no correction or apology was issued.  In fact, the summer of 1998 saw a basic replay of that first story: Israel is responsible for the dearth of water in that region.  A Jewish swimming pool was counterpointed with an empty faucet, again and again.

One of the main faults we found with the Israeli media during this period was its treatment of the mass public protest movement and its multitude of groups and organizations.  Many demonstrations were conducted and the interplay with the media was complex.  While the scenes of sit-downs and marches were transmitted, and while the leaders voiced their support for non-violent actions, the media consistently characterized the demonstrations, especially of the “This Is Out Land” group, as “violent” and preferred  pictures of occasional rambunctiousness.  On the other side of the political fence, when in December 1993, eighty professors and lecturers of the Professors for A Strong Israel demonstrated against the IBA’s media bias, the television saw fit to ignore the activity.  This phenomenon of media bias, which in turn affected the activities of extra-parliamentary groups, causing a heightening of tension in the public political and social climate is treated in a new book that was published in the summer of 1998.  Written by Professor Gadi Wolfsfeld of the Hebrew University’s Communications Department, the book, “Media and Political Conflict”, devotes two full chapters discussing the inter-relations between the media as a reporting institution and the pervasive  influence it generates because of the way it reports the news and allows or limits discussion of issues (see pgs. 77-123 in particular).

Another element of Israel’s media-political complex as it is reflected in the treatment of the Oslo process was the cooperation that developed in regard to the activities of the General Security Services agent provocateur, Avishai Raviv.  The electronic media, and especially Channel One television, chose Raviv as their “media star” and made him into a symbol of the entire anti-Oslo camp, those the late Prime Minister Rabin measurably called “the extreme Right”.  The practical result of this media concentration on Avishai Raviv was that the insignificant fringe was pushed front and center.  After all, if Raviv and his ilk repeatedly are displayed on the television screens while, at the same time, the media consumer is unaware of the true strength of these activists, what happens is the creation of a virtual reality.  This virtual reality had little in common with the actual reality.  The media contributed, in an irresponsible fashion, to the driving of a wedge between Israel’s citizens.

The truth of the discomforting role played, knowingly or otherwise, by the media in the Raviv affair was revealed in the fall of 1997 when, after a long struggle, a secret portion of the Shamgar Inquiry Commission’s report dealing with Raviv was released for publication.  The Commission, established to investigate the events leading to the assassination of Rabin, wrote in their official report:

“Eyal…existed, for all intents and purposes, only in the publications of Avishai Raviv and through the coverage afforded him by the television” (33)

“All that time, [Raviv] continued in his contacts with the media in order to portray Eyal as an real organization and received assistance  from the television in that it broadcast a swearing-in ceremony, that was but a put-on show, that anyone who was present there had to be aware that indeed it was a show” (34)

That swearing-in ceremony, mentioned in the report, was shown on Channel One’s “Yoman” program in late September 1995.  IMW complained to the IBA heads at the time that we suspected a fabricated presentation. Subsequently, the police were instructed by then Attorney-General Michael Ben-Yair to initiate a criminal investigation.  As of this writing (October 1, 1998), no charges have been brought and the Attorney-General’s office as well as the State Prosecutor’s office have written us that they are still investigating.

In another media manipulation event which sought to portray the right-wing as a criminal element, Raviv assumed responsibility in October 1995 for a murder of an Arab resident of the village of Halhul, near Hebron.  The media prominently and repeatedly broadcast the statement, as was its obligation, but neglected to engage in its own independent investigation. In fact, on the “Popolitika” program a few days later, Moshe Feiglin of the “This Is Our Land” protest movement was ridiculed when he suggested that the Eyal group had nothing to do with the crime.

Prominent government ministers, especially those from the extreme Left, such as Yossi Sarid, exploited the incident and the pronouncements of Raviv to denigrate the entire right wing as well as calling for the removal of Hebron’s Jewish population in response.  All during this period of over a week, as noted, the media some how “lost” its ability to act on its own. Even after it eventually became known that the Arab was killed by other Arabs for criminal reasons, the lack of balance in the media coverage continued.  The fact that GSS officers did not inform immediately their government supervisors that, as Raviv was their agent, the murder had not been committed by him and that the attacks by ministers on the Right were baseless, was a further symptom of the symbiosis that had developed between establishment bodies and the media in the furtherance of partisan political goals.

The tension that had formed between the media and their sympathizers amongst the academic community, natural allies in the reality of Israel, broke out into the open in March 1996.  At the height of the series of Arab terror attacks at the time, which involved the horrendous results of suicide bombers, Professor Shlomo Avineri, former Director-General of the Foreign Ministry and a Labor Party member, a founder of the 77 Circle, attacked the media coverage of the events.  First appearing on the “New Evening” show (35), he called Chaim Yavin, anchorman of the main evening news broadcast on Channel One TV, “a collaborator of the Hamas” and further described him as the “national crybaby”.  In another interview, this time in the presence of Yavin, Avineri stated that he was acting “at the time as one who is concerned with the public’s morale” (36).

It was obvious to all that it was actually the supreme electoral interest of the Labor party that concerned Prof. Avineri.  The more the coverage of terror attacks, the more negative effect they would have on the election chances of Labor on polling day which had by then been set for May 26. There is then yet another question that should be asked: as personalities opposed to the government’s position were denied air time during the election campaign (noted below), why did the IBA permit a discussion of Avineri’s criticism to be aired?

Dr. Raya Epstein, who researches the cultural, political and ideological sources of totalitarianism, arrived at a penetrating conclusion, one that paralleled those of Ari Shavit and Ben-Dror Yemini dealt with above, concerning the role played by clique of Israel’s mass media.  According to Epstein, Israeli democracy is unique  and is an outlook that “forces itself” with the aid of elites whose roots are to be found in pre-state Zionist socialism.  Epstein presents of thesis that it was this interpretation of democracy which allowed the so-called “peace camp” to plant its version of utopia into the consciousness of society as, what she terms, “compatible democracy”.  She explains:

“[‘the peace camp’] forces Israeli society to go in this single path which it itself has laid out, neutralizing all opposition and protest by portraying them as anti- democratic…the media mobilization, with all its tremendous  power, on behalf of the attainment of this goal, allows an indoctrination of the people to take place… it is abundantly clear that the power which forces left-wing radicalism on the daily agenda of the Israeli public is the mass media.  It makes no difference if the media is aware or unaware of its campaign against democracy.  In this matter, the usually heard remark from media personnel, often in all honesty, that their left-wing inclinations do not prevent them from being neutral, objective and professional, is lacking all foundation”.  (37)

Supporting testimony of Epstein’s theory is included in an op-ed article written by the veteran press journalist, Yisrael Rosenblatt, who previously served as the Ombudsman of the Ma’ariv daily.  Concerned by the global phenomenon of a reducement in the credibility of the media, Rosenblatt deals with the special situation in Israel and points to the media being “out to get” Netanyahu, as he sees it.  He describes the reality as:

“Woe to anyone who attempts to doubt the considerations [of the media] to undermine its claims or to is skeptical of its professional integrity. The media possesses standard ammunition (‘danger to freedom of expression’, ‘clamping down on criticism’, ‘watchdogs of democracy’) which has proven its worth…if at anytime previously, the left-wing character of the media was rejected, today everyone in the profession admits it, for indeed, such is the reality. In place of a total denial, there is humorous apologetics: from ‘there is no such thing as an objective journalist’ to ‘journalists are lefties but the media isn’t’.” (38)

And, as if to close the circle, at a conference of Israeli and Palestinian journalists convened in July 1998 on Rhodes and sponsored by UNICEF, Chaim Yavin, veteran anchorman of IBA’s television news, declared, in reaction to Palestinian claims of censorship and lack of understanding on the part of the Israeli press and media, that “without the Israeli press, there would have been no peace process.  Without the Israeli press, the Intifada would not have led to Oslo.  That was a product of Israel’s freedom of the press. The press is the watchdog of Israeli democracy”.  (39)

5. Rabin’s Assassination and the following Week as Reflected in Channel One’s TV Broadcasts

IMW reviewed the broadcasting schedule of TV’s Channel One during the week following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995 in order to ascertain the balance in those transmissions.  The programs included in the report  were the coverage from Sunday morning until the funeral service, two “Popolitika” shows (5.11 and 7.11), a special tribute by artists and actors (7.11), a special retrospective program on Rabin (8.11) and the weekly news roundup, “Yoman” (10.11). These programs were selected for their centrality in the schedule lineup, their importance due to their hosts and the guests and because their relative length enabled adequate in-depth research.

Our main finding was that balance was not preserved.  The “Popolitika” show of 5.11 included 12 guests from the leftist camp and 3 from the right. The representatives of the left merited 71% on the discussion time.  It was only on the second “Popolitika” show of 7.11 that a semblance of balance was presented.  This was achieved, as the show’s moderator has revealed (40), when the producer, Aharon Goldfinger, was forced to invite four representatives of the left as well as right.  Nevertheless, Finance Minister Avraham Shochat, a close political ally of Rabin, was allowed the special privilege of being interviewed with no other guest and the panel table for several long minutes before being joined by MK Naomi Chazan of the coalition Meretz Party for another interview period with no one from the right.  Despite the balance in the number of guests, the left-wing representatives were allotted 68% of the debate time versus 32% for the opposition members.

Another aspect regarding these two “Popolitika” shows was that the panel interviewers acted with impunity, asking their questions in an aggressive and belittling manner.  Their behavior was seen as a contribution to the “brutalization of television culture”, influencing in a negative manner the general gloomy political atmosphere.

Channel One broadcast live, from the HaBimah National Theater hall, a tribute to Rabin by many of the country’s artists and performers.  Not one representative of the right was included in the long list of stars.  Harsh words of slander and libel were spoken, some in a menacing manner, causing complaints to be made to the Attorney-General’s office.  Mordechai Kirschenbaum was reported to be on the verge of pulling the plug on the show but permitted it to continue.  A central guest who addressed those assembled was Minister Shulamit Aloni, a very opinionated person in her own right.  No other political personality appeared.  The show served as a platform for politically motivated attacks with no modicum of fairness by the public broadcasting network to allow for a true presentation of their views..

Another special program, shown that week, was “Goodbye to Rabin” on November 8, 1995.  Not one right wing representative appeared.  There were four left-wingers and one PLO representative, Ziad Abu-Ziad.  This was a sorry week for broadcasting ethics and was summed up by Chaim Assa, a former Rabin analyst who worked as a government employee in the Prime Minister’s bureau, in a newspaper opinion piece:

“The way the media stars smeared themselves on to the difficult atmosphere that was formed brings to mind desperation. Instead of fulfilling its role – to be a platform for neutral public debate, it became a party to that dispute. Despite the fact that the majority of Israel’s media are positioned on the side that I believe in,   I find it hard to express my own mind”.  (41)

The ever-perceptive Meiberg described Channel One’s efforts that week as a conscious decision of  “managing the mourning”. (42)

The media hounded, in a private war carried on through the use of public instruments, against Benjamin Netanyahu in particular and the National Camp (43) in general.  An incisive view of this vendetta was provided by Tamir Shefer, a lecturer at the Hebrew University’s Communications Department and a doctoral student, in an article published in the Ha’Aretz newspaper which dealt with the mourning activity of the media over Rabin’s death. According to Shefer,

“The media coverage after the assassination created a contextual paradigm of a special character – the ‘paradigm of incitement’…the two representative narratives which formulated this ‘paradigm of incitement’ are the ‘coffin demonstration’ [a demonstration that took place in Raanana in the presence of Netanyahu in which a coffin symbolized the “death of peace”.  Netanyahu denied seeing the coffin’s inscription] and the “Zion Square rally” [in Jerusalem during which a photo montage of Rabin in an SS uniform was displayed before television cameras]”.  (44)

Shefer’s article was written in response (45) to a third narrative which occurred in May 1998 when supporters of Jerusalem’s Betar soccer team won the league championship.  The celebrations were held at Safra Square in the presence of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the mayor, Ehud Olmert.  Television camera microphones picked up chants of “death to Arabs!” from a portion of the crowd.  Despite Netanyahu’s denial, together with Olmert, that they had not heard the chants from their position on a balcony overlooking the square, a claim backed by press reporters, Israel’s Channel One showed a few seconds of Netanyahu waving to the crowd together with the chants in the background.  The inevitable image conveyed was that Netanyahu was, as it were, encouraging the crowd’s chants.  In her commentary, news presenter Geula Even left no doubt that she had linked this event with the previous event in Zion Square.  That event, as noted above, was central to the incitement thesis in that there, too, Netanyahu had stated that he had not seen the posters from where he was standing even though television shots created the image and sense that he was smiling in direct reaction to the posters.  Netanyahu, the media was unmistakably conveying, was a secret partner to the incitement.

The clear, and perhaps planned, conclusion of the week’s broadcasting was that not only was the public allowed to know what was going on and thereby participate in the mourning over the tragic death of the country’s leader and that not only did the media act as an agent which allowed the public to experience psychologically the difficult circumstances such as the tearful remarks spoken by Rabin’s daughter but the media managed a mobilized campaign of a certain cultural, social and ideological elite against a group hostile to that elite as well as hated by that elite.

The media, posits Shefer, mourned in two spheres.  “Firstly, the media engaged in self-flagellation.  And example of this is Michael Karpin’s documentary (“The Government Announces With Shock”) that blames the press directly for ignoring the obvious signs that indicated an incitement campaign…and the second expression of media’s mourning was an increased awareness that highlighted in a massive media coverage of every item and instance that could be associated with incitement…the problem in this mode of activity (that is, the review and categorization of events according to their appropriateness to existing media paradigms) created a mental fixation and invited stereotyping”.

In addition, Shefer relates to the problematic that the media must shorten, classify edit and present an event by showing a sample of the reality.  Journalists are those who, by their roles, create the contexts in which the event will be displayed.  In this professional process, several questions should be asked, such as:

“who is permitted to decide when a sample represents the reality?  When are created contexts legitimate?  When is it proper to assign an event to the existing media paradigm and when is it correct to disassemble that paradigm?”.

In the current situation of the Israel media, when many of its central personnel hold opinions that negate the political path of Netanyahu, the clash between the personal biases and the rules of professional ethics has brought about a depreciation of those rules.  The cameras and the microphones in the hands of those media people have served the editors, broadcasters and hosts as tools to bring before the viewers and listeners their own personal outlooks while, at every possible moment, battering the National Camp and he who stands at its head.

A display of that depreciation of the code of ethics by a media person was provided in a book review article criticizing the new addition of the IBA’s code, the Nakdi Document.  In the article, written by a former IBA employee and currently, a lecturer in media studies at the Hebrew University, Dr. Yitzhak Roeh, the code was termed “an anachronistic document”, which “stirs up but merciful empathy” as “an ancient legend” being “irrelevant”. (46)

6.  The Israeli Broadcast Media During the 1996 Election Campaign

A.     Infractions of the Electioneering Law

The influence of the mass  broadcasting media on an elections campaign at the end of the 20th century is crucial.  The selection of news items, their repetition, the coverage of candidates, general events, participation in interview programs – all this represents a consideration on the part of the voter.  That elections are equal for all is an elementary principle of the democratic process.  As much as possible, each candidate must receive an equal chance to present his position.  Therefore, not unlike other enlightened countries,  the electronic media in Israel is restricted, in part, during an election campaign by law.

In the clash between freedom of expression and the right of the public to know on the one hand, and the freedom of choice and the principle of equality on the other, the law comes down of the side of the most feasible democratic election process.  The election campaign must be held in a fair manner which does not award an artificial advantage to any side, especially not to those parties that are veteran, large and  participate in the running of government.  As such, paragraph 5 of the Election Law (Electioneering) that was applicable during the elections for the 14th Knesset and the Prime Minister in 1996 (a subsequent leniency has been, in the meantime, legislated) fixed two periods, one within the other.  During the 60-day period prior to election day, “no electioneering” may be broadcast and during the 21-day period prior to election day, “no events may be broadcast in which candidates for the Knesset participate”.

The then chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Theodor Orr, made it clear in a letter he sent to all directors of broadcasting authorities on March 27, 1996 that “every specific broadcast or program must be reviewed in their special circumstances in order to ascertain that they do not contain any electioneering”.

The Israel’s Media Watch staff researched the transmissions of both television channels, One and Two, during the entire 60 day period leading up to ballot day.  The programs selected for the study included all the news and central current affairs programs.  The results indicated that every day there was a violation in one form or another of the law prohibiting election propaganda.  The infractions were committed by reporters, broadcasters, show hosts, editors and producers and, on the side of the politicians, by representatives of the two major blocs as well as other guests on interview shows.  They all exploited loopholes so as to promote a political stand.  The majority of the infractions were done by members or sympathizers of the-then coalition parties, Labor and Meretz.

There exist three options to enforce the election law: in a volunteer fashion by the broadcasting authorities themselves; by the Central Elections Committee; and by a judicial action brought by the Attorney-General’s office or by the State Prosecutor or the police.  The networks did not exert themselves in enforcing that which is prohibited and basically ignored their responsibilities.

For example, Channel Two’s main evening news broadcast included a short daily item entitled “Political Area”.  Reported by Itai Engel, it included unadulterated political campaign propaganda, mouthed, even if by people in the street, on behalf of the two prime minister candidates as well as a variety of parties.  The complaints submitted by IMW to the Complaints’ Commissioner of the Second Authority were of no use.  It was only after that IMW threatened to undertake legal steps and then, after tough negotiations with the legal advisor of the news corporation, that the item was eventually removed from the program, and then, after a long delay and just a few days before the elections.  In another instance, when clearly election propaganda on behalf of Shimon Peres was broadcast on a Kol Yisrael program hosted by Yaron Enosh, the laconic reply received in the IMW office, signed by the IBA spokesperson, was that since by then the elections were over, there is no need to deal with a legal matter. Practically speaking, the volunteer submission option simply did not exist.

The second way to uphold the law was through action taken by the Central Elections Committee.  Its chairman, Justice Theodor Orr, saw himself as taking the path of the golden mean.  As he explained in the CEC meeting held after the elections:

“[I decided] to balance out between the two: on the one hand, between the wish to defend  the right of expression, including, of course, that of the media which represents the soul of our democratic regime and between, on the other hand, the need to protect that which the law obligates”.

And he continued:

“I admit that the task was not easy” (47)

In a meeting with representatives of IMW, held on May 8, 1996, Orr explained that in any case, the CEC did not enforce the law.  That was the job of the police.  At most, the committee could prevent a broadcast or make use of its moral authority.  It had no standing in cases of infractions already committed.  In this instance, it was up to the police and the public prosecution to act.  In reality, Orr prevented only one program which was construed, after being viewed in a studio, from being aired and that, on the eve of election day.  The helplessness of the CEC and its chairman as well as the deprecation of the law demonstrated by the media can be judged by the following incident.

In the aftermath of the broadcasting of prohibited electioneering, words of support for Shimon Peres by the Baba Baruch, a Sefardi Rabbi, on the Popolitika shown on May 13th, IMW requested that the CEC exert its responsibility to prevent a future electioneering occasion.  Justice Orr decided, in line with the suggestion of IMW representatives present at the hearing, to order IBA D-G Kirschenbaum to personally and closely supervise the program to prevent any electioneering propaganda from being broadcast. The next program again dealt with election issues and the conduct of the candidates.  IMW demanded a restraining order against the program and, in response, Orr decided that Kirschenbaum had not fulfilled his obligations. He further demanded that Kirschenbaum inform him before the broadcast time of the next program exactly the issues to be dealt with by the show as well as the list of invited guests to prevent the breaking of the law.

Despite all this unprecedented judicial intervention, during the program broadcast the night before the elections, two of the panelists, Amnon Dankner and Shelly Yechimovitz, took advantage of their live appearance on the screen and made fun of Justice Orr’s decisions and proceeded to make statements of support for Shimon Peres and belittling Benjamin Netanyahu.

Complaints about illegal electioneering that were made to the police and other judicial bodies such as the Attorney General’s Office, the third option, proved useless as well.  They referred the complaints to the CEC. Thus was created a vicious circle.  The situation did not go unnoticed and Razi Barkai, host of Channel Two’s media critique program, produced by Israel’s Education Network, “Media File”, stated forthrightly: “we are all delinquents”. (48)  Daliah Ravikovitz also did not hide the truth of the media’s biased intervention:

When the two candidates were interviewed [on the “Popolitika” program] we saw Peres being treated with royal honor, and Bibi was set upon as if by a pack of dogs”. (49)

The law which was intended to prevent unfair electioneering via the instruments of the mass media was contravened, in its spirit and in its letter, and there existed no possible way of preventing its infraction nor punishing those who acted illegally.  Spokesmen of the Labor Party exhibited their confidence that the media was obviously helping them.  The head of the Information and PR unit, Avraham Burg, was quoted by Ma’ariv’s political reporter, Shalom Yerushalmi, as saying:

“What ‘shows’ better – news which is supposed to be objective or political propaganda?” (50)

Haim Ramon, head of Peres’ personal election campaign unit, was also quite open in their admiration of the way the media was serving the Labor Party’s interests:

“The Labor Party does not even require at this time [during the Grapes of Wrath Operation] and electioneering for the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers are receiving maximum media coverage and they are promoting well the government’s policy”. (51)

The law prohibiting candidates from being shown indeed proved its logic as Yaron Dekel pointed out.  Dekel, Kol Yisrael’s political party correspondent, appeared on the weekly “Yoman” program and when asked to comment on how the campaign was being run said:

“In the past three weeks, when the electronic media outlets were blocked for Shimon Peres [because of the law], I think that there was a restriction in his ability to make headlines as he had done in the past two months.  Peres in the headlines, Bibi in advertisements [was the reality], but not so much in the last three weeks.”  (52)

The broadcast media failed to keep the law and thereby allowed the lists associated with the then governing coalition to significantly increase the gap of coverage between it and the opposition as well as between the candidates of the large parties vis-a-vis smaller, new or sectarian lists that hardly appeared at all.  The principle of equality was violated and there was no balance to speak of.

Advocate Yuval Karniel, the former legal advisor to the Second Authority, made the claim in a newspaper article that what defines who or what will be broadcast are “professional editorial considerations”.  He went on to explain:

“The professional consideration obligates the presentation of a position championed by the opposition when it has news value, all the while distinguishing between a report and an expression of opinion or outlook”.

The intent of the law, Karniel explained, was to prevent the ‘taking over’, through the vehicle of a ‘professional consideration’, of air and screen time due to the many more possibilities of the coalition parties to influence the public via news broadcasts.  According to Karniel, the media did not follow the law:

“Today, the various media channels are ignoring, ever elegantly, the clear existing prohibition of the election law  to broadcast propaganda on the television and radio”. (53)

In the end, it proved useless to try to depend on the editorial discretion of the media personnel or their sense of fair play.

B.     Infractions of the Ethics Code: Reliable Data and Fair Reporting

In addition to the law, the media’s own ethics codes were consistently being violated.  The following examples illustrate the problem.

–     “Mabat”, on May 12th,  presented a distorted report regarding video cassettes distributed to voters and dealing with the terror attacks then occurring.  According to the report, “the Likud eliminated evil quotations said by Shimon Peres”.  Characterizing the statements as “evil” was a personal opinion of the reporter, stemming from his own ideological position.  For after all, the quotations were authentic and backed by sources.

–     The entire affair of the supposed invalidation of the PLO Covenant during April 1996 was handled in a biased fashion, unreliably and incorrect as discussed above.

–     An attempt to kidnap a soldier on May 12th was relegated to insignificance and no true attempt was made to investigate the story.

–     On Memorial Day, April 23, a radio item was broadcast which included interviews with families who had lost relatives due to Arab terror.  IMW researched and revealed that those interviewed were selected with the active help of one Yitzhak Frankenthal whose son had been kidnapped and murdered by Arab terrorists.  Mr. Frankenthal, however, was a leading activist in the “Paths of Peace”, a religious group advocating territorial withdrawal and supporting the Labor Party.  Attempts by other bereaved parents, who disputed the current government policy, to appear on the program as well as others were thwarted.  A promise, by IBA’s D-G, was given to Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, whose son was killed in Wadi Kelt, that an effort would be made to allow him air time but to no avail.

The humor and satire programs were an especial source of media bias against Mr. Netanyahu.  Election time is a unique period when one is dealing with elections.  The essence of political satire is the humiliation and deprecation of politicians and parties.  At election time, such satire can easily cross the boundaries of simple criticism to electioneering.  The Supreme Court Justices took note of this problem when, in an earlier decision, they distinguished between artistic content material and political propaganda.  It is our opinion that the value of art in a satirical sketch is relatively negligible when shown during election time. Indeed, its influence as a propaganda device is highlighted and therefore should be treated according to another standard.  The determination of the two broadcasting authorities to grant free license to artists allowed the showing of humor and satire programs that contained unadulterated propaganda.  During the election campaign, Channel One broadcast the “Cameri Quintet” and Channel Two, the “Chartzufim” and the “Zehu Zeh” programs.

Examples of humor as prohibited electioneering material were

–     A song included in the Zehu Zeh show of April 29th described a salesman of antiquated objects singing of “a leader melting in the heat, yesterday angry and today a man of peace/ platforms of synthetic material…today before the elections…selling used material, second-hand…”.

In reply to a complaint by IMW, Mr. Yoel Rekem, the Second Authority’s Complaint’s Commissioner, wrote that “the darts of satire in Koby Luria’s song…are aimed, in my opinion, against Israeli politics in general and this, too, in a gentle hint…we found no reason to intervene…you r complaint was investigated and found groundless”. (54)

–     The “Chartzufim” program, an Israeli version of the British “Spitting Images”, brought satire down to a level of raunchiness unknown until then. Slogans such as “A Secure Peace = Safe Sex” were the norm.  Ms. Limor Livnat, a Likud candidate, was shown instructing Netanyahu and other Likud candidates how to use condoms.  Such low-level humor was utilized mostly against the Likud and religious parties, but not exclusively. Rafael Eitan, a Tzomet candidate, was held up as a stuttering fool who can’t remember a thing.  Netanyahu was always shown with a violent streak, constantly striking Shimon Peres.  And if there were any problems of communication between Peres and Yasser Arafat, it was always Peres’ fault.

The “Chartzufim” writers even exploited Rabin’s death, portraying him as an angel in Heaven, observing the antics of his political inheritors.

A IMW check of all 92 skits shown on the program during the 60 day pre-election day period when electioneering is banned, 57% of skits relating to the coalition were detrimental and negative (27 out of 47) whereas 73% of the skits dealing with the opposition parties were negative (33 out of 45).

The “Cameri Quintet” of the IBA presented another problem.  Two of its stars, Rami Hoiberger and Dov Navon, participated in electioneering clips on behalf of the Labor Party.  The previous IBA Chairman, Aryeh Mekel, had set out IBA policy in this matter in a decision published on February 10, 1992, during that year’s election campaign to whit, no one participating in election commercials could appear as a performer on IBA programs during the 60 day period.  Following an appeal to Director-General Kirschenbaum by IMW, he ratified that policy but only prevented a program that was to include the two in question during the week prior to polling day.

C.     Preventing Criticism and Halting Flow of Information

An intolerable phenomenon, especially during a period of national debate and decision, was the policy to prevent persons who wished to criticize the electronic media  performance and behavior from being allowed to air their points of view over the airwaves.  Unfortunately, we witnessed incidents that raised doubts and questions concerning media ethics and the upholding of the law.

On the first two days of May 1996, as mentioned earlier (see section 3), a prominent newspaper ad was published, signed by an outstanding cross-section of intellectuals demanding fairplay and objective reporting on the part of media personalities during the election campaign. The ad read:

“out of concern for the democratic character of Israel, we call upon you, media personnel, to place the obligation to democracy and political fair play above your personal inclinations for this or that side.  Journalists must draw a clear line between their right to express their opinions in op-ed columns and between their tasks as news editors and interviewers. The affording of a proper and fair platform for both candidates for the position of Prime Minister before the public is a professional-ethical obligation.  Any act injurious to these principles is a stab at the heart of democracy”.  (55)

Several of the various radio programs and television shows invited a number of the signees to appear and be interviewed.  In the end, these interviews were canceled.

Professor Gabriel Moked, who considers himself a member of the social Left and a non-party member of the Labor Party’s social affairs committee and Dr. Yuval Shteinetz, who supported the Likud, were asked to participate on the May 13th “Popolitika” program.  At the last moment, they received an urgent announcement that “due to the intervention of authoritative elements within the IBA’s management”, the invitation was recalled.

Prof. Moked was again invited, this time to the “No Man’s Land” media critique show to be broadcast May 15th.  His participation was canceled due to a strange (to him) excuse.  Despite the fact that a taxi had already been ordered for him (as he had been informed) and only two hours after he had discussed his appearance with an editorial research assistant, he was told that as the Likud had withdrew its complaints regarding charges of bias in the broadcasting, his participation was no longer needed and he was not to come.  Even though Moked protested that there was no connection between his criticism and the Likud’s complaints, he was still refused air time even after he became aware that, in fact, the Likud had not withdrawn their complaints.

On May 21, the public opinion show, “Public Poll”, was to have aired a debate entitled “The Media – Balanced or Leftist?”.  Dr. Shteinitz and a representative of the Left were asked to participate but the program was canceled the day before it was to have been broadcast.  The reason given was that opposition had arisen within IBA circles.  And on May 22, the Army Radio station, Galatz, requested Prof. Moked to appear live on one of its morning programs.  But less than half an hour later, again he was told the invitation had been rescinded.  The reason given was that the IBA D-G, Mordechai Kirschenbaum, opposed the discussion unless he was a participant. However, as he could not be available, the broadcast was canceled. (56)

In a handwritten letter, entitled “A Strange Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Media” (57), Moked relates to the ominous ramifications of the media’s behavior:

“All these incidents only strengthened me in my position that our media is not only suffering from a powerful haughtiness…[and] unity of ideology…but in  addition, a significant portion of those who set the tone in the media are attempting to exert control in a super extreme radical note, much closer to the desires of the ‘New Historians’ to crumble the Israeli narrative rather than displaying a balanced line of support for the peace process”.

An outstanding example of the media’s ability to betray its professionalism is in a campaign anecdote found in the book, “The Committers of Suicide”. The authors recall that during the “Grapes of Wrath” operation in April 1996, Shimon Peres, while on a tour of the north, shared a table and some beers with a group of journalists.  Asked to comment on the harsh criticism of the military operation against Lebanon coming from the Israeli Arab community, Peres retorted: “those stupid Arabs”.  As the authors describe it:

“The journalists were dumbfounded.  For Peres, this was an act of political hari-kiri in the main square of the city.  If his remarks were giving publicity, and they were recorded and spoken for the record, it could have brought about his premature end. Following a discussion among themselves, in the end, Peres’ words were not reported”. (58)

Not only were persons critical of the media’s role in the elections prevented from reaching the public but there were journalists who themselves yielded to self-censorship in accordance with their political outlook.

D.     The Last Week of the Elections and Polling Day

The attempts of the media to influence the voters and to affect the elections’ outcome reached new heights during the last week on the campaign and the actual balloting day.  Representative examples of their efforts are as follows:

1. The Chabad campaign under the slogan “Netanyahu.  Good for the Jews” was presented in a biased fashion without proper consideration for the right of reply.  A reported remark from within the cabinet meeting, that the slogan carried the stigma of being racist, was not discussed in a balanced way in any of the current affairs programs.  On the day of the elections, the Chabad spokesperson phoned IMW’s offices complaining that all his attempts to get air time to respond to charges leveled against his movement had failed.  It was only at 5 PM, on the “Erev Chadash” program that he finally got his opportunity.2. The media reported that a supposed complaint had been tended to the Central Elections Committee against Arutz 7 having broadcast election propaganda.  It was proven that the story had no foundation in fact.

3. Two days prior to the elections, the grave of the former Prime Minister Menachem Begin had been desecrated.  The event did not receive any extensive coverage nor any panel discussion.  In comparison to a media frenzy that took place earlier, when a Labor Party campaign worker was injured in a shooting incident as a result of an altercation with Likud campaign workers, the desecration affair seemed to have been glossed over.

4. On election day, the electronic media allowed themselves to be manipulated to the point of encouraging the Arab sector to vote.  When it became clear to Labor Party activists that the percentage of Arabs voting was low, a statistic that would be unhelpful to Peres, increased news items and commentary  discussions were heard.  The interest was artificial and blown out of proportion.

The biased performance by the media, both printed and broadcast, did not surprise anybody.  Ron Meiberg, as quoted previously, left no doubt as  to the clear sectarian-political interest displayed by the members of the media when he wrote:  “never had we been so mobilized to bring down a prime minister” (59).  Chami Shalev was of the same opinion, when, a year after the elections, stated on television:

“it’s no secret that most journalists did not support Netanyahu ” (60)  Tzvi Li-dar, IBA spokesman and public relations chief, outlined back in February 1996 the elements of unbiased television coverage.  Writing to a member of the IBA’s executive council, Li-dar detailed the approach of the professional staff:

“the IBA executive is well aware of the very heightened political sensitivity  of these days…every eyebrow move and every lip movement is interpreted as an expression of an indication of support in this or that side of the political debate…due to this, the Director-General has decided that in every weekly News Forum meeting from now until the elections, the importance of responsible and balanced news coverage will be stressed and in instances of a violation of the regulations, comments will be noted” (61)

In reality, the letter remained a piece of paper.  Not only was nothing practical ever done but, as related previously, the senior IBA employees had collaborated in a left-wing tilt.  IMW summed up its research with the following conclusions and recommendations:

a. a managerial failure occurred whereby the law was not upheld regarding the prohibition of broadcasting partisan election propaganda and in both authorities, the review systems did not work.b. balance and objectivity were not kept.  The tendency was to prefer the government and its spokesmen.

c. Specifically, the IBA chose to prevent a proper public discussion of the issue of the media’s performance during the elections by canceling appearances and programs.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority Law, the Second Television and Radio Authority Law and the Nakdi Document set out clear and unambiguous restrictions and instructions regarding professional media ethics.  Ethics are not unique to Israel.  Similar codes and regulations exist in Britain for the BBC, in France, the CSA acts to assure ethical behavior and in the United States, the NPR also is obliged by a code of ethics.  During elections, a period of extreme tension, there exists a special need to maintain ethics.  In Israel, the failure in this regard was enormous.

7.  Imbalance in the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Programs

The Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), through its radio and television transmissions, constitutes a public media network.  As such, the expectation of media consumers that balanced coverage between the rival political groupings in a country where the interest in the activities of the Prime Minister, his government and the Knesset is very high, itself becomes part and parcel of public debate.

During 1997, due to several media affairs, the subject of media interference and its perceived lack of balance came to the fore.  One such incident occurred in September when President Ezer Weizmann slapped Channel Two’s Moshe Nussbaum, an incident that was hushed up and went unreported for weeks even though it had been filmed (62).  Neither of the two television channels thought the action of the President newsworthy.

It later was revealed that at least on two other occasions, Weizmann had used , what was described as “over-friendly physical force”, on two other journalists, one a woman.  It wasn’t until Shelly Yechimovitz, who had read the Ha’Aretz item, interviewed Nussbaum on her radio interview program that the issue was discussed.  Nussbaum appeared on Channel Two’s afternoon talk show, “At Five with Rafi Reshef”, and that was the extent of electronic media interest.

Weizmann, a darling of the media for his pro-Oslo stand while being critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu, merited a protective wall of media indifference.  On the other hand, Netanyahu’s remark in September 1997, uttered to a Rabbi, that “the Left has forgotten what is means to be Jewish”, was given extreme coverage, several times daily for a full week. To compound the unbalance and the consequent favoritism, that same week, his Labor Party rival, Ehud Barak, was quoted as referring to his possible left-wing Meretz partners as having less than full Jewish roots.  His remark was glossed over and received little media attention.

In early October 1997, following publication of the attempted assassination of Hamas official Khaled Mash’al in Jordan, Carmela Menasheh, Kol Yisrael’s military affairs reporter, was accused of combining her personal views with her factual news reports.  On October 9, IBA D-G Kirschenbaum released a statement that said: “the public is not stupid and knows to distinguish between a news item and commentary on the news.  In a matter such as the affair in Jordan, all the press dealt with both news and opinion while reporters brought both news and opinion together.  To the best of my knowledge, Carmela did not express her own personal opinion…” (63).

It was less than appropriate, and that an understatement, that the IBA head, who also serves as its chief editor, seek to excuse an incident of blatant unethical behavior while noting, at one and the same time, that “everyone is doing it” and that “she didn’t do it”.

That the IBA D-G was unable, publicly, to differentiate between what is practiced and what should be practiced, and what is correct for the public broadcasting network while belittling the ethic’s code of the IBA, should be extremely disappointing and painful for the public.  It seems that there is no real serious attention paid to the matter of broadcasting ethics. The IBA’s professional executive were not willing to recognize the problem. Moreover, there seems to exist a major difficulty of exerting control over what is happening in the IBA.  The result is unbalanced broadcasting which, of necessity, is biased broadcasting.

(Note: references in parentheses in the following section refer to the Nakdi Document)

A.     Balance – What is It and For What Purpose?

According to the ‘Nakdi Document’, “balance” is defined as permitting fair and impartial expression of different opinions in correct proportions, both in news and opinion broadcasts without awarding points (para. 41; 45).  A central element of balance is “the ability to bring the news in the most objective and neutral manner (para. 26) as well as the prohibition “to broadcast feelings instead of information”, that is, “the report must be factual and as complete as possible” (para. 27).  These regulations, and others, all stem from the fourth paragraph of the Law of the Israel Broadcasting Authority which stipulates that “in the broadcasts, a place should be given for the proper expression of the views and different opinions  currently held by the public” and  the third paragraph which obligates the IBA to broadcast information on “the current affairs of the state, its struggle, its creativity and its achievements”.

The editors of the last edition (64) of the Nakdi Document write in their introduction that “we should always review what is the measure of the journalist’s ability to present before the media consumer the full, exact and significant picture  and what is the measure of purposeful concealing, of bias in every one of the stages in the process of transferring data from the news department employee, who is the provider and agent, to the viewer and listener – the media consumer”.

Imbalance is created when there is no supervision or control over the various ethical fields: expressing one’s personal opinion, lack of response, using a value-loaded term, attaching titles, not broadcasting information, lack of variety, not identifying the commentator’s background, preventing pluralism and the squelching of criticism.  Balance is intended not only because of the demands of the professional code but to avoid the entrenchment of tendentiousness, especially in a public broadcasting system that is involved in “public broadcasting”.  Such an authority must be particularly careful, due to its legal and public responsibility.

In an interview conducted by Razi Barkai with Benjamin Netanyahu on the former’s “Media File” television program on February 21, 1998, the Prime Minister made clear what must be the responsible position that the IBA should adopt as well as any public broadcasting network:

“R. Barkai:     Is the IBA, in your opinion, balanced? B. Netanyahu: “The problem is not in the political views of the editors or the broadcasters, even if in this instance there should be a certain balance.  The problem is in assuring the professional ethic.  There are private views of a person and there is his ability to give expression to the variety of existing views.  This is the main thing”.

What follows are examples of the most frequent forms of imbalance.

B.     Expressing Personal Opinion

IBA employees are obligated to distinguish between their opinions and the facts (para. 26 quoted above and para. 27: “the broadcaster must avoid expressions of solidarity with matters he covers”).  Even in an interview, there exists a similar prohibition (para. 77b).  Despite this, many broadcasters, interviewers and show hosts occasionally allow themselves to add expressions or statements that reflect their personal opinion.  Such an expression can influence the media consumer as regards the subject at hand and, as such, is an act of bias.  While, separately, these instances may be thought minor, it is their cumulative, “drip” effect that presents a problem.

Kol Yisrael’s military affairs reporter, Ms. Carmela Menasheh, often crosses the line between news and views.  The IBA’s ombudsman was forced to bring to the attention of the radio’s director several justified complaints against Ms. Menasheh.  In addition to the example above (the Mash’al affair), Menasheh, on April 14, 1997, reported on the Prime Minister’s plan to spend the Seder night at an army base.  In her report, she asked “why must the PM disturb hundreds of soldiers?” who, in her opinion, would be affected by Netanyahu’s decision.  On September 14, 1997, in a report on Lebanon, she added “a solution must be found”.

Mr. Aryeh Golan, too, too frequently expresses his own private opinions within the framework of his hosting of the daily morning news wrap up program on radio.  The IBA ombudsman, Mr. Viktor Grayevsky, wrote IMW on October 7, 1997, that “your complaint was passed on to radio director Amnon Nadav, with my request that he reprimand him due to his expressions.  I hope that he will pay special attention to the matter”. (65)

C.     Non-Broadcasting of Information

It is the journalist’s obligation to provide the media consumer with as full a factual report as possible.  Even if there is no absolute objectivity in the selection of news items (para. 59), the journalist’s competency is judged by his ability to gather data and to expose it (Introduction, p. 10).  The reporter is to be a “fair agent” in the transferal of news (op. cit., p. 11).  As the Nakdi Document makes clear there, when news items are not broadcast, one is free to mull over the possibility that the result is coincidental or one that stems from bias.

The slap across the face that Moshe Nussbaum received from President Weizmann (as described above) is a classic example of a news item hidden from the public by the media.  A similar situation arose over the Gabi Butbol affair.  A member of the IBA’s plenum, he was quite active in criticizing the IBA’s professional executive.  As a result of a directive issued by Mordechai Kirschenbaum, IBA’s Director-General, the “Popolitika” program producer sent a researcher to check up on Butbol’s performance as an administrator.  Realizing what was developing, Butbol complained to the IBA’s Chairperson, Rina Shapira.  The affair eventually reaching the courts, after over a year of deliberations, investigations and public debate.  Not one item of this affair was broadcast over IBA’s radio and television news programs until the very last stage.

The “Mabat” evening news program never informed the public that the PA’s police force had invaded the White Russian Orthodox monastery in Hebron, throwing out its residents and their belongings and beating up two nuns in August 1997, an interesting and relevant story of a religious conflict. That same week, however, several nights were devoted to highlighting the parallel story of a young woman, Tatiana Susskin, pasting up caricatures of Mohammed as a pig in Hebron causing religious conflict.

As was pointed out in a previous chapter on the media during the 1996 election  campaign, Shimon Peres achieved media preference and sympathy apparently stemming from a dovetailing of interests and values between Peres’ policies and those of some outstanding media personnel.  Interviewed by Daniel Ben-Simon for a book on the elections, Peres’s remarks on the quality of those who voted against him appeared on the very first page. Those who lent their support to his opponent were “all those who do not possess an Israeli mentality”.  In response to the follow-up question, who are these people, Peres, in a clear racist tone, declared “it’s possible to call them ‘the Jews’”. (66)

The book was widely reviewed and yet no media personality thought to question Shimon Peres as to the implications of his remarks.  Even following a speech in the Knesset by Prime Minister Netanyahu attacking Peres over the content of what he said, the broadcast media ignored the issue, preferring it to die a death of neglect.  If one considers the outpouring of media interest dedicated to Netanyahu’s statement to Rabbi Kadouri, mentioned above, or more recently, that devoted to MK Ori Orr’s racist comments on Moroccans in an August 1998 interview with the same Daniel Ben-Simon, the dearth of media attention is a stark stain on the conscious of media personnel.

D.     Non-Identification of a Commentator

The code of ethics is quite clear about political commentators: “when there exists a link between a commentator’s political belief and the subject under discussion, there is an obligation to note the political background” (para. 23).  This principle is quite obvious in the need for full disclosure to enable the media consumer to judge for himself the worth of the commentary.  Nevertheless, the IBA has failed and continues to do so, especially in regards to two frequent commentators: Amnon Avramovicz and Professor Asa Kasher.

The simple and plain fact that Kasher was a candidate for elections to the 14th Knesset on the Meretz list, the radical liberal political grouping headed by Yossi Sarid and Shulamit Aloni, was never mentioned in any of Kasher’s appearances on television and radio over the past two years. Kasher, who authored the controversial Code of Ethics for the Israel Defense Forces, was, for example, the studio commentator for over two hours on the live broadcast program of the state ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s death.

Mr. Avramovicz first appeared on the “Yoman” Friday night news review program as a commentator and now is an editor of the program, siting in the studio.  He also appeared as a regular commentator for the daily “Mabat” news program on issues of security and undercover intelligence affairs.  He expressed chagrin at handing over a ‘present’ to the right-wing when he identified Avishai Raviv as a General Security Services agent who’s code name was “Champagne”.  In a newspaper interview (67), he revealed that he was a Labor Party supporter for years and that in publishing an item about a planned assassination attempt on a PLO chief, he intended to harm the Likud’s reelection chances back in 1981.  This data, which would seemingly compromise his objectivity, and at the very least, oblige the IBA heads to balance him with an opposite number, made no impression at all. Avramovicz’s standing has only increased over the years and he was allowed to get away with a blatant biased performance when he questioned then-Foreign Minister David Levy about Netanyahu, asking him: “do you trust the Prime Minister’s psychological stability?”.  (68)  The question was not only lacking in good taste but patently exceeded the professional expertise of both Avramovicz as well as David Levy.

E.     Imbalance in the Inviting of Guests and Commentators

An imbalance in the inviting of guests, either in their number or in the framework of their appearance, will cause the phenomenon of ‘stacking the deck’.  For example, the regular panel  journalists on the “Popolitika” program is all but absolutely identified as open supporters of the Oslo process and as leftist in general foreign affairs and security matters. This was true both before and after the 1996 elections.  In addition, they do not appear as questioners or interviewers but make personal opinion statements.  A detailed survey of this  is contained in IMW’s special report mentioned above.  IMW has documented other examples as in the week following Rabin’s assassination, also previously noted.  Several additional examples follow.

A year and seven weeks after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, “Popolitika” devoted its October 27, 1997 program to the issue.  The panelists included Daliah Filosof-Rabin, his daughter, Professor Anita Shapira, head of the Rabin Heritage Center, Dr. Menachem Klein and Dr. Gutwein, both supporters of left-wing politics.  All of them spoke out against the nationalist camp whose sole representative, one out of five, was Yisrael Harel.  On September 17, 1997, MK Benny Begin appeared on the “Conference Call” TV program opposite three members of the “Four Mothers” movement demanding an immediate and unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon.  Not only was their imbalance in the number of guests and the time devoted discussion of the viewpoints but Begin was consistently interrupted and hardly completed a sentence.  In addition, no other intermediate opinion was discussed.

F.   Unreliable Information

The fourth paragraph of the IBA Law obliges the authority to broadcast “reliable information”.  The Nakdi Document makes it clear that an insufficient check of sources or a cross-checking of sources will cause the reporter, out of neglect or personal preference, to broadcast unreliable information.

One such example is a story first reported in the summer of 1995 on the “Yoman” program that the lack of adequate water supplies to the Hebron Hills region was due to the overuse of water by the Jewish residents of the area.  The Kiryat Arba swimming pool was shown juxtaposed to an empty faucet in an Arab house.  Despite protests, no follow-up story was broadcast.  Two years later, the Civil Administration of the territories confirmed that 40% of the water destined for Hebron was stolen, drained off on the way, by Arab farmers.  The story reappeared in the summer of 1998, again without due reference to the reality of the situation.

In another instance, Yaron Dekel, political affairs correspondent for Kol Yisrael, quoted a fictitious quotation in a May 9, 1997 broadcast a report concerning a Labor Party gathering that day.  He claimed that Ziad Abu-Ziad, PA legislator, was a supporter of the Beilin-Abu-Mazen agreement and so spoke at the gathering.  Abu-Ziad called in to correct the attribution, which was done several hours later, commenting that Dekel had not been present.  Suspicion fell on Yossi Beilin as the source.  Dekel, who failed to confirm his story, was perceived, along with his editor, to have provided Beilin with political back up at the expense of journalistic ethics.

The use of unclear terms, purposefully beclouding issues, is another cause of unreliability.  For example, the use of “security elements”.  The public is unaware whether such “persons” are truly a soldier under uniform who desires to hide his identity or a political figure with a military background who is hiding his political inclinations.  An example of such a usage is the report by Carmela Menasheh in the morning news review on Kol Yisrael on April 3, 1997.  There she quoted “assessments” of  “security elements” and “army elements”.  Among the “assessments” was the firm belief that “only the action undertaken by the Palestinian security factors can prevent planned terrorist attacks”, as if the IDF and the GSS were irrelevant.  Without a clear identity of the source, the media consumer could have been receiving political propaganda disguised as actual army intelligence.

G.     Political Inclination

Ronnie Milo, mayor of Tel Aviv, is probably an outstanding example of this problem.  Until declaring his candidacy  for the prime ministership in late spring 1998, Milo had been a regular panel guest on a political affairs program, “Game of Shabbat”, broadcast twice on Saturdays, in the morning and repeated in the evenings.  He was present in over 85% of the programs transmitted.

In a period of personal elections for mayorships as well as newly introduced primary elections, the political weight that can be garnered through unique television or radio appearances is great.  There was no justification for the granting of such a unique platform for any politician.  The preference granted Milo, despite many complaints, damaged his potential political rivals.

Television awards a media allure to active politicians by applying to them the title “commentators” as if they were neutral observers, academicians or experts instead of being intensely involved  with a personal stake in the subject they are discussing.  For example, MK Amnon Rubinstein of the Meretz Party, although a Professor of Law at the Tel Aviv University, is a full-time politician.  Despite this, he often appears as a commentator on legal issues.  General (Res.) Oren Shachor, who joined the Labor Party and serves as a close advisor to its head, Ehud Barak, frequently appears as a commentator on issues concerning the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

In connection with the problem of political bias, one cannot ignore the media event of 1997: the “Bar-On – Hebron” Affair. (69)  Many saw this affair as a media coordinated effort to act outside the democratic process against a prime minister elected in direct elections.  The criticism against the character of the reporting and the way the coverage was broadcast, especially by Channel One TV was quite bitter  during the three months the affair was in the news.  The criticism originated from many quarters.  IMW complained and released statements regarding  ethical and professional errors  in the reporting and coverage.  The damaging inside media story, though, was that of Aviv Bushinsky, Radio Kol Yisrael’s police reporter.

Aviv Bushinsky published an article (70) in response to remarks made in reference to his professional work ethic by Rafi Halabi, head of IBA television’s news division as well as Mordechai Kirschenbaum, the IBA Director-General at the time.  Bushinsky reiterated his remarks on a Kol Yisrael radio interview program hosted by Nadav HaEtzni and broadcast on September 14, 1997.  On the face of the charges made by Bushinsky in relation to the television coverage of the “Bar-On” Affair, a serious investigation should have been initiated into the machinations of the television news department.  This was never done although Kirschenbaum attempted to launch an investigation against Bushinsky but was halted by the IBA’s public supervisory body and its chairperson, Prof. Rina Shapira.

Bushinksy’s reports did not always coincide with the version of the affair that was being promoted by the television.  Echoes of the differences of opinion leaked to the press.  Bushinsky accused Channel One TV of unethical behavior, especially on the part of Halabi and Chason.  Bushinsky also hinted at criminal suspicions.  Bushinsky quoted from taped recorded conversations he conducted with Halabi, in which Halabi spoke in a threatening and caustic manner, attempting to influence the way Bushinsky was reporting.  Halabi, as evidenced from the taped conversation, viewed his journalistic duty as managing a battle over whether criminal charges would be made against Netanyahu and others.  He accused Bushinsky of acting out of self-interest and pressured Bushinsky, reminding him that he (Halabi) had spoken to Kirschenbaum, the head of the radio and the head of the radio news division.

Bushinsky claimed that the television news division did not draw conclusions from the initial hurried manner in which the first broadcast was made, lacking, as it did, a reaction from Bar-On.  He wrote that they labored for some time to substantiate and verify the original story, all the while putting on a “show” as if they that version was authentic, that the coverage of the police investigation was coordinated with the police investigators themselves while Chason awarded marks to this and that investigator in her televised reports and praising others.  He also accused Channel One television of ignoring the fact that the suspected source for Chason’s story, advocate Dan Avi-Yitzhak, was interrogated by the police and that Chason’s reports, in part, represented interference with the police investigation when, in an attempt to gain his reaction, she informed Bar-On that the police were on their way to his office.  The fact that an internal police investigation was conducted against the police investigation team’s second in command was suppressed by Chason.  And lastly, Bushinsky pointed out that reports carried by Channel Two and the Ma’ariv newspaper regarding Avi-Yitzhak’s behavior were ignored by Channel One.

On the basis of this article, IMW requested of IBA Chairperson Shapira that a special review be conducted.  Such an act by the public supervisory body would have contributed to a clearing the air for if only a portion of Bushinsky’s charges proved true, the conclusions would have been far-reaching and quite serious.  Except for Kirschenbaum’s announcement that he intended to review all of Bushinsky’s reports, which he later recanted, no internal IBA review was ever made of the handling of the Bar-On Affair.

H.     Broadcasting Songs with Political Content

Songs with a strong left-wing message, whether in their general content or specific phrases, are frequently heard over the public radio network.  For example, Aviv Gefen sings of “let’s get out of the territories and conquer the peace”.  Shalom Chanoch’s song, “Don’t Call Me A People”, is accompanied by a video clip which makes clear the dominance of its one-sided political message. Songs with an opposing ideological message, such as “Hebron, Now and Forever”, are not heard in any regular entertainment program.  Left-wing songs are also played as background during news programs, thus doubling their impact.

During the 36-hour national mourning period following the double helicopter crash in 1997, not one song that could be defined as being Chassidic or Traditional Jewish was heard.  The refraining from broadcasting cultural expressions deeply rooted in the religious Jewish heritage during general events and thus preventing the general public from hearing them, as well as the limited broadcasting of Mediterranean-style music in such situations, amounts to an imbalance in cultural diversity.

I.     Prevention of Criticism

Ram Evron, former moderator of the defunct media program, “No Man’s Land”, in an interview published in the Ha’Aretz newspaper (71), admitted that he intentionally prevented criticism of the IBA from being broadcast on the program.  This discriminatory situation is well known to IMW.  Despite repeated requests to appear on the two main morning radio programs, not once has an IMW representative been invited to voice his opinion on a media issue.  During the three seasons that “No Man’s Land” was shown, an IMW representative appeared but once.

As noted previously, on the eve of the 1996 elections, one of the signatories on the “Open Letter to the Media”, Professor Gavriel Moked, was invited to appear on three different programs, all of which were canceled. In an unpublished letter, Moked described “something strange happened to me on the way to the media”:

“All these incidents  only strengthened me in my opinion that our media is contaminated not only with forceful arrogance…[and] ideological uniformity… but, in addition, the majority of those in the media who set the tone are trying to the domination a super extreme radicalism, one which is closer to the  the “new historians” who aspire to undermine the Israeli narrative rather than a balanced line of support for the peace process”. (72)

8.    Conclusion

The foregoing are representative examples from among hundreds of complaints documented by Israel’s Media Watch and sent to the IBA’s ombudsman, Viktor Grayevsky.  In many cases, the responses of elements within the IBA have not denied the facts but rather disagreed subjectively as to the seriousness of the wrongdoing.  Amnon Nadav, director of Kol Yisrael radio, who was interviewed by Shelly Yechimovitz on her program on March 3, 1998, contributed this insight into the problem existing within the IBA:

“Until the period of Mordechai Kirschenbaum, the demands made of us were maximalist in that we should uproot any expressions of personal opinion over the radio and television”.

The cumulation of so many instances, throughout so many programs, whether in news programs, commentary or entertainment, point to a clear trend of imbalance in the broadcasts of the IBA in favor of what is termed “left”. It was Allen K. Simpson, a sharp critic of the American media who delineated the dangers in the lack of media ethics:

“The media have largely abandoned all basics of good journalism in favor of slanted, deceptive and ruthlessly prosecutorial reporting.  The public always gets the story but seldom gets the truth”.

Israel’s Attorney-General, Elyakim Rubinstein, is also aware of the shortcomings of the Israeli media.  In a speech before the delegates of the Journalists Association, he spoke out about some of the stains that should be cleaned out, among them “superficial, tendentious and unfair” (73)

The patterns of the Israeli media, essentially, are not too different than those of mass media in other countries in the fields of non-ethical and non-professional behavior.  On the shelves of university libraries can be found many volumes all dealing with ethics in broadcasting and other media activity.  The power concentrated in the media naturally attracts criticism and suspicion.  It is no coincidence that every journalist society has a code of ethics.  The ability of the media to influence public opinion demands  effective supervisory institutions.

Israel’s problems with the media are of another, more acute, nature.  This reality exists not only because of the severe and repetitive character of the infractions of the ethics’ code but because of the nature of Israeli society within a small geographical unit.  This reality allows for a greater influence by the electronic media over the media consumers.

Moreover, the media elite has succeeded in preventing the entry of journalists with different approaches and outlooks while defending themselves from any effective form of public supervision.  One such defensive weapon has been the bandying about of such catch phrases such as “censorship”, “injury to democracy” and “interfering with the right to freedom of expression” against any and all criticism, all they while exploiting their position as media operatives.

The question which we asked ourselves at the outset of this report was “is the essence  of Israel’s electronic broadcasting the reporting of news or news management?”.  Our findings, and more than the data but the statements of central media persons themselves, provide the answer:  Israel’s electronic media sees its role not only to report to its viewers and listeners and to comment on the news, that is, to act as an agent, but to direct and manage the news so as to set the public agenda. The news becomes an instrument to be manipulated.  This is a mobilized media and in the end, one that  presents a danger to democracy.

As this report was going to print, former IBA Director-General, Mordechai Kirschenbaum, made the following statement in an interview published in the Yediot Ahronot “Seven Days” Magazine, September 18, 1998, p. 78:  “we (the IBA) were politically stigmatized, naturally, from the moment Netanyahu came to power because Netanyahu’s right-wing cannot tolerate free television.  From the moment different views are brought to them, they become deprived.  They possess no tolerance.  In all that is connected to incitement against democratic institutions, including the IBA, and against rivals from opposing political camps, Netanyahu exhibits fascist tendencies, while, as it were, carrying high the flag of liberalism”

9. References – Selected Bibliography of Works Consulted – Notes

The following books, articles and research reports have served the authors in preparing this report and have provided them with insight and understanding regarding the media and its personnel as well as a source of inspiration.  Quotations are contained in the Notes section.

Adjudications of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, UK, 1995
BBC, Producers Guidelines
Barnes, Fred, “The Media on Clinton: How Tough?”, in Forbes Media Critic,
The Best and  Worst of America’s Journalism, Winter 1995, pp. 32-42
Barone, Michael, “The Return of Partisan Journalism” in The American Enterprise, March/April 1996, pp.29-32
Bozell III, L. Brent, “Does Today’s News Media Manipulate History?”, in The American Enterprise, March/April 1996, pp. 34-36
Bozell III, L. Brent & Baker, Brent H., “And That’s The Way It Isn’t – A Reference Guide to Media Bias”, Media Research Center, VA, 1990
Broadcasting Standards Authority, New Zealand, Codes of Broadcasting for
Radio and Television, 1996
Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisual, Les etudes CSA, “Reglementation et
regulation audiovisuelles en France”, Janvier 1996
Diamond, Edwin and Silverman, Robert A., “White House to Your House: Media
and Politics in Virtual America”, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1997
Fallows, James, “Breaking the News – How the Media Undermine American Democracy”, Vintage, NY, 1997
Fallows, James, “Why Americans Hate the Media” in The Atlantic Monthly,
February 1996, pp. 45-64
Federal Communications Commission, “Complaints about Broadcast Journalism”, September 1987
Goodwin, H. Eugene, “Groping for Ethics in Journalism”, Iowa State Univ. Press,
Grossman, Lawrence K., The Electronic Republic – Reshaping Democracy in the Information Age”, Viking, NY, 1995
Haivri, Ofir, “The TV and Radio Cartel: It Doesn’t Work, Turn It Off”, Policy View, No. 11,  March 15, 1995, The Shalem Center
Jacobs, Lawrence R., and Shapiro, Robert Y., “Toward an Integrated Study of Political Communications, Public Opinion and Policy-Making Process” in PS: Political Science & Politics, March 1996, 10-13
McQuail, Denis, “Media Performance – Mass Communication and the Public Interest”, SAGE,  London, 1992
Meritt, Davis, “Public Journalism and Public Life: Why Telling the News is Not Enough”, LEA, NJ, 1995
National Public Radio, “Sound Reporting – The NPR Guide to Radio Journalism
and Production”, Marcus D. Rosenbaum and John Dinges (eds.), Kendall/Hunt, IO, 1992
Press Complaints Commission (UK), Report No. 29, March-April 1995
Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), Code of Ethics, 1987
Ramsden, Graham P., “Media Coverage of Issues and Candidates: What Balance is Appropriate in a Democracy?” in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 111 No. 1, 1996, pp. 65-81
Russell, Nick, “Morals and the Media: Ethics in Canadian Journalism”, UBC Press, Vancouver,  1994
Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics, 1996
Stone, Emerson, “What Balance Means”, in Communicator, April 1995
Wolfsfeld, Gadi, “Media and Political Conflict – News from the Middle East”, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997

Notes:

1. Ma’ariv daily newspaper, March 20, 1997
2. Ma’ariv, “The Democratization of Public Broadcasting”, June 2, 1997
2(*). Gabi Butbol, a member of the IBA plenum, was in 1997 the object of
improper exploitation
of professional media research procedures.  In order to offset his
criticism of them, the IBA’s
Director-General, TV Director, Spokesperson and the producer of the
Popolitika program unethically, and in an unauthorized fashion, sought out
damaging personal
material on Butbol in an attempt to silence him.  None of those involved
were subjected to a disciplinary tribunal but instead, reprimands were
entered into their
personal files.  The High Court of Justice, on an appeal brought by, among
others,
Israel’s Media Watch, did not find a basis to intervene, seeing that as
the IBA’s Chairperson acted with adequate rational, there was no proper
cause for doing so.
3. Ma’ariv, July 21, 1997
4. Makor Rishon weekly, February 6, 1998, p. 21
5. The Seventh Eye, Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem, Issue No. 3
6. The Seventh Eye, op. cit., Issue No. 4
7. Ha’Aretz, May 1; Ha’Aretz, Ma’ariv and Yediot Ahronot, May 2 (with
additional
signatures)
8. Ms. Yechimovitz, acknowledged as a brilliant interviewer, worked for the
now defunct Al HaMishmar daily, broadcast on Galatz and Kol Yisrael.  She
briefly appeared on television a few years ago and during the 1997-98
season moderated a media critique program, “Press Conference” on TV’s
Channel One.
9. Ma’ariv, December 5, 1997
10. “No Man’s Land”, TV Channel One, June 5, 1996
11. “No Man’s Land”, May 28, 1997
12. Yediot Ahronot, November 9, 1995
13. Margalit, Dan, “These I Have Seen” (Hebrew), Zamora-Beitan, 1997, p. 260
14. “Mabat”, November 18, 1996
15. “All That Moves” Media Column, “Jerusalem”, February 9, 1996
16. Ma’ariv, February 21, 1997
17. Ha’Aretz, March 5, 1997
18. Ha’Aretz, January 10, 1997
19. Ma’ariv, October 17, 1997
20. Ma’ariv, August 14, 1998
21. Otot, February 1998
22. Ha’Aretz, January 7, 1994
23. Landres, Israel, ed., Yearbook of the Association of Tel Aviv
Journalists, 1998, p. 138
24. Report of the Activity of the Public Bodies (in Hebrew), Israel
Broadcasting Authority,
October 1995-October 1996, p. 16
25. op. cit.
26. see, for example, the comments of Mordechai Gilat, “He Shot Himself in
the Foot” (in Hebrew), Yediot Ahronot, July 23, 1998
27. Ma’ariv, June 19, 1998
28. Begin, Binyamin Zeev, “Of Lies and Of People” (in Hebrew), Yediot
Ahronot,
Shabbat Supplement, p. 23
29. Interview with MK Benjamin Begin
30. Ma’ariv, Shabbat Supplement, May 20, 1994, p. 5.
Avramovicz left Ma’ariv later that year and since the summer of 1995 has
been employed
as a regular commentator on a personal contract with the IBA.
31. Ha’aretz, Weekend Supplement, December 26, 1997
32. July 6, 1998, the “It’s All Talk” program on the Second Radio Program
33. Shamgar Commission Report, Chapter 4, paragraph 2, p. 26
34. op. cit., paragraph 4, p. 28
35. Educational Television Network, March 6, 1996, broadcast over IBA’s
Channel One TV
36. “New Evening” program, March 11, 1996
37. Epstein, Raya, “Israeli Bolshevism Disguised as Liberal Democracy” in
Nativ, No. 56, Iyar 5757 – May 1997, pp. 47-48
38. Rosenblatt, Y., “Who Will Watch the Watchdogs?”, Ma’ariv, June 6, 1998
39. As reported in Ha’Aretz, Weekend Supplement, July 10, 1998, p. 16
40. Margalit, Dan, “I Have Seen Them All” (in Hebrew), p. 260
41. Davar Rishon (now defunct), November 21, 1995.
42. Ma’ariv, November 17, 1995
43. The term ‘National Camp’ is used to describe the wide range of
political parties (including the Likud, National Religious Party, Tzomet,
Moledet, et al.) as well as extra-parliamentary groups (including the
Yesha Council, Professors for a Secure Israel, Women in Green, Zo Artzeinu
and the Ma’amatz Committee)
44. Shefer, Tamir, “A Late Ignition” (in Hebrew), Ha’Aretz, June 3, 1998
45. Shefer relayed, in a private conversation with the author, that his
conceptualization preceded
its publication by several months.
46. Ha’Aretz, Book Review Section, March 27, 1996
47. CEC Minutes, Meeting June 5, 1996
48. “Media File”, June 6, 1996
49. The Seventh Eye, Issue No. 3, p. 18
50. Ma’ariv, April 19, 1996
51. Ha’Aretz, April 15, 1996
52. “Yoman”, May 24, 1996
53. Davar Rishon, April 29, 1996
54. Letter dated June 20, 1996
55. see note 7 above and the article of Avi Posen in The Seventh Eye, Issue
No. 3
56. see IMW’s newspaper ad, “Danger – A Mobilized Media!”,
57. the letter is in the files of IMW
58. Caspit, B., Kfir, I. &   “HaMitabdim” (in Hebrew) p. 183
59. see note 19
60. “No Man’s Land” program, May 28, 1997
61. Letter to Chedva Spiegel, T/312, dated February 8, 1996
62. see Ha’Aretz, Weekend Magazine, October 24, 1997, p. 8
63. see Yediot Ahronot, October 19, 1997
64. a new edition of the Nakdi Document was published in September 1998
after this
report was written
65. Following a series of subsequent complaints in May 1998, Grayevsky
wrote the IMW that he had instructed Kol Yisrael director Amnon Nadav to
“halt” (emphasis in the original) Golan’s remarks containing personal
opinion but to no avail.  Letter Grayevsky to IMW,
June 1, 1998
66. Ben-Simon, Daniel, ”      ” (in Hebrew) p. 13
67. “Yerushalayim”, December 15, 1995
68. “Yoman”, October 24, 1997
69. Appointed as the Attorney General in January 1997, Ronni Bar-On
resigned within two days following the broadcast of a Channel One news
item.  Reporter Ayalah Chason accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of choosing
Bar-On due to a convoluted political commitment made to the Shas party
whereby Bar-On would grant amnesty to that party’s head, Aryeh Deri, in
return for Shas support for the Hebron redeployment.  An official
investigative committee found no proof for such an accusation.
70. “Seventh Eye”, Issue 10
71. Weekend Supplement, September 14, 1997
72. Handwritten letter in possession of IMW
73. Annual of the Tel Aviv Journalists Association , 1998

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