May 31, 2012


Posted in Media at 12:40 am by yisraelmedad

Media comment: The new IBA?


IBA has been running self-advertising campaign stating that “We have programs for you at the IBA.” Is there truth in this advertising?

The Israel Broadcasting Authority has been running a self-advertising campaign stating that “We have programs for you at the IBA. Listen to Kol Yisrael, watch TV Channel 1.

The public broadcasting is yours and is for you.” Is there truth in this advertising? The IBA has undergone significant changes during the past two years. Dr. Amir Gilat has been chairman since July 18, 2010. The new plenum of the IBA was installed over a year ago, on March 13, 2011. Miki Miro is acting head of Kol Yisrael since July 2011 and permanent head since February 6, 2012. Yoni Ben-Menachem has been the executive director and chief editor of the IBA since September 18, 2011. Both secured their positions only after legal battles initiated by various journalists’ unions and others to prevent their appointment.

Additional milestones achieved during this period include a new IBA law, ratified by the Knesset on March 21 this year, that redefines the ethos of the IBA. It mandates that the IBA must strengthen and enhance the Zionist identity of the state and, for example, reflect the struggle for independence.

It should reflect all parts of Israeli society, strengthen ties with Judaism, Jewish heritage and values and enhance the public’s knowledge of the Hebrew language in accordance with the guidance of the Israeli Academy for the Hebrew Language.

Our parliament has defined a Zionist-oriented IBA law, which is in accord with democratic principles of equality and pluralism, but does the IBA abide by it? Is the public broadcasting really “yours”? At times, it would seem that the IBA is more “of the journalists, by the journalists and for the journalists.” Nowadays, they have complete freedom to express their opinion on anything. The IBA, it seems, furthers more a freedom of the press than a freedom of speech.

Air time is limited and, if most of the philosophizing, admonishing, political and cultural opinion is provided by employees of the IBA, does the IBA truly reflect all parts of Israeli society? Miro, realizing this problem, tried to limit the expression of personal opinions by some of the IBA’s stars. In fact, he abolished the personal column features, relegated to journalists only on the Yoman Kol Yisrael noon program on Friday.

But his efforts were met by stiff opposition. He was severely criticized for attempting to stop people such as Arieh Golan and Keren Neubach giving their personal opinions on air. As a compromise, he agreed that they are allowed to ask questions but not to make statements, but before long things reverted to the previous practice.

Golan continues informing us of his personal opinion on his 7 a.m. radio program. For example, on Jerusalem Day, Golan said: “Here is a sentence written by the Swedish author, Nobel Prize laureate Selma Lagerlaf after visiting the city: ‘Here, envy lingers at night, here the dreamer is suspicious of the miracle maker, here the believer wars against the atheist, here there is no mercy, here they hate everyone in honor of the lord,’” and added, “well, ok, this was written a very long time ago, in the year 1900.”

Golan could not bring himself to rejoice or at least leave his listeners with a good feeling on this historic day. His respect for the law which demands that the IBA reflect Israel’s struggle for existence seems to be somewhat limited.

Another painful topic is the Hebrew language. English reigns, and not only in the advertisements. Even respected journalists such as Yaakov Achimeir use English words such as “primaries” and “promo.” No wonder that some of the other IBA journalists routinely use English terminology, especially when dealing with sports. Terms such as “debate” or “wishful thinking” are but some examples of the daily abuse of Hebrew. Yet the IBA has done nothing in the past years to uphold the law.

Not all is dark. TV programming, especially of documentaries, has changed, leaning more toward Zionism. Perhaps the best example is the documentary “Ben Zion” on the life of Professor Benzion Netanyahu, father of Yoni Netanyahu, who fell in action in the Entebbe rescue, and father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Dr. Iddo Netanyahu.

The film, which was presented for the first time this past Monday, the 30th day after Prof. Netanyahu’s death, at the Begin Center, explores the life of one of the great Zionists who helped establish the state in the past century.

Radio programming is also changing. The IBA TV prime-time news has been shifted to 7:52 p.m., bringing with it also changes in the evening radio programs.

The 7 p.m. Reshet Bet program on foreign affairs has been rescheduled and instead we have various public service programs that deal with social values issues, such as health. Yet these changes are at best incremental as they do not create a new paradigm of pluralism. Minority groups remain under-represented both in content and as journalists.

Moshe Negbi remains the sole legal commentator of the IBA. Programs seem to “belong” to certain persons for years, even though they are not permanent employees of the IBA. These include Judy Nir-Moses-Shalom’s (wife of Minister Silvan Shalom) program Fridays at 11 a.m.; former MK Geula Cohen’s and author Eli Amir’s program on Thursdays at 7 p.m.; the Friday afternoon program of Yaron Enosh, that of Shlomo Nitzan for the past 20 years or so, the Arab-oriented program of former Labor minister Ra’anan Cohen, and more.

Creating change is not simple, especially when it means moving people who have been in their positions for years. But openings exist. For example, Yaron Dekel left the IBA to become the head of the army radio station. As a result there is an opening for a new anchor for Kol Yisrael’s Hakol Dibburim program, which airs weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

One might hope that the IBA would try to take someone who does not belong to the post-Zionist liberal camp, which receives ample airtime through the likes of Mr. Golan, Ms. Neubach, Ms.

Davidov, Mr. Enosh, Mr. Negbi and others.

For example, they might take Ms. Emily Amrousi, former spokesperson of the Yesha council and current Israel Hayom columnist, to provide some balance. Or Yedidya Meir of Yediot Aharonot, who also has had ample experience as an anchor at the Kol Chai and Galatz radio stations.

All in all, the IBA’s record during the past few years is mixed.

There have been some positive changes and certainly the present leadership of the IBA is much more open and receptive to the public and its desires. Yet the proof of media pudding is in the viewing and listening. At present, there is still much to be desired.


May 25, 2012

Hebrews or Canannites or Jews?

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:50 am by yisraelmedad

Have you heard of the ideology of Adolph Gurevitch aka AG Horon, a mentor to the founding the the Hebrew Nation or Canaanite political theory?


Is There An “Arab Civilization”? Islam and Arabism, A. G. Horon — November 1958 – Abstract

ISLAM arose in Arabia. But from the ethnographic standpoint Arabia proper comprised at first only the Nejd and the Hejaz, the vast desert lands of the nomadic Bedouins in the center and northwest of the Arabian peninsula. It is the Greeks and Romans who stretched the name of Arabia until it was made to include the less barren south of the peninsula-”Arabia Felix,” i.e. the country from which frankincense came and which was inhabited by sedentary, relatively civilized peoples. However, the peoples of Arabia Felix neither were nor called themselves Arabs, and their languages-Sabaean, Minean, and related dialects, either extinct or still spoken today -are more closely akin to the Semitic tongues of Ethiopia than to Arabic.

During the formative period of Islam, Judaism still played a cultural and even a political role both in the Orient and in Africa. The last pre-Islamic state in the Arabian peninsula was the kingdom of the Himyarites (who were the heirs of the Sabaeans and lived in what is now Yemen and Hadramaut), which had become Jewish in religion before being destroyed by the Christian Ethiopians around 525 c.E., some forty or fifty years prior to the birth of Mohammed. The fall of the Himyarite kingdom was followed by a period of chaos, tribal unrest, and migration, the memory of which is preserved in Moslem tradition under the name of jahaliya (time of “ignorance” or “barbarism”). In North Africa, too, there were in the 7th century several important groups of Berber “Jews,” or rather Judaizers, notably among the powerful Zenata tribes, who inflicted some resounding defeats on the Arab invaders and thus delayed the progress of Islam in the West until the beginning of the 8th century. Even after the triumph of Islam the Jews retained, or regained for some time, their economic and political importance in several regions around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. One of the great powers of the early Middle Ages, the empire of the Khazars (a people akin to the Turks), which dominated the southern and eastern parts of what is now European Russia, professed Judaism from the 8th to the 10th centuries.

Background here.

A. G. Horon had argued that the father of the Jewish nation, or more properly, the Hebrew Nation, was not Abraham, but Ever, who was also the father of all the Hebrew tribes. One of these, the “Canaanites”, became the framework for a new movement that had originally referred to themselves as “The Young Hebrews” (it was the poet Avraham Shlonsky who applied to the group the term Canaanites).

May 23, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: The invisible minority

Posted in Media at 11:50 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The invisible minority

The fact that the Israeli Arab political leadership largely does not recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state does not reflect the attitude of all Arab citizens.

This past week one of the more high-profile news stories our media reported was that of two women who were raped in the north (there were additional rape stories). The rapists were arrested, but Michal Galperin complained to the Israel Broadcasting Authority about the omission of the identity of the suspects.

They are Israeli Arabs. She received a prompt reply from Elisha Spiegelman, the ombudsman of the IBA, explaining that the policy of the IBA is not to identify criminals as “religious,” haredi,” “left wing” or “right wing,” and in accordance with this policy the suspected rapists were not described as “Arabs.”

Spiegelman’s attitude is commendable, in principle.

One should not associate a body of people with the criminal acts of any individual.

This principle is found in the Bible, when Moses replies to God: “if one man sins, shall you be angry with the entire congregation?” (Numbers 16:22). But theory and practice do not always coincide.

On January 29, Moshe Finkel complained to the same ombudsman that on the IBA’s Reshet Bet radio station, reporter Assaf Pozailov and anchor Yigal Ravid let us know that the suspects in the desecration of graves in Ashdod were haredim.

Mr. Spiegelman’s answer on that occasion was: “the police suspected that the perpetrators were haredim… your claim that the report throws suspicion on the whole haredi community is unjustified as the report was only about a few individuals coming from that community.”

The case described above typifies the attitude of the Israeli mainstream media to two of the most important minority groups in Israel – the Arabs and the haredim.

Tons of ink have been spilled to describe the threats to Israeli society emanating from the haredi community.

Last summer during the “social demonstrations” and following the actions of the government, the media claimed that haredim were receiving cheap governmental housing, while the mainstream Israeli middle class was struggling to afford suitable housing.

But consider the Arab sector.

Some of them, most notably the Beduin communities, solve their housing problems by simply having complete lack of respect for the law. Tens of thousands of illegal structures exist. Judging by the attitudes of the mainstream Israeli press one would think that it is better to violate the law via illegal construction than use political influence to legally and democratically obtain housing for your constituents.

The now-defunct “Tal Law” has also been and continues to be a “fruitful” source for filling up newspaper pages and air time. The very sensitive issues of having the haredi community participate in Israeli society, help carry its burdens, whether military or social, and participate in the economic sphere are justifiably topics of media discussions.

Yet, the haredi community comprises only nine percent of Israeli society, while the Arab section makes up 20%.

It too, largely does not serve in the IDF and does not volunteer en masse for national service. Their rate for paying state and local taxes is comparable, if not worse, than the haredi sector. They, too, in general, do not stand at attention on Independence Day, a standard item in the media every year. The legality and the moral justification of the Arab sector’s abstention from military service is not less questionable than that of the haredi sector.

PARAGRAPH 36 of the Armed Services Law states that the defense minister may exempt anyone from military service if he finds this to be necessary.

The grounds for such an exemption are: “the size of the regular forces needed for the IDF; educational needs; security or economically related settlements; family reasons or other reasons.”

In other words, the defense minister can exempt anyone from military service and this serves as the basis for exempting the Arab population.

But for this purpose he has to provide some rationale.

The Tal Law is known to all, but the legal and moral basis for exempting the much larger Arab population is unknown, and the media does not attempt to obtain from the defense ministry the formal rationale behind the very broad exemption given to the Arab population. The legal and moral aspects of the exemption of Arabs from military or national service is hardly an issue in the eyes of our media.

Israel’s Media Watch has recently undertaken a study of the extent of TV coverage allocated to various minorities in Israel. The bottom line is that issues dealing with the Arab sector receive somewhat less than 6% airtime, much less than their percentage in the population. This statistic includes IBA’s Channel 33, which has special programs for the Arab sector. If one does not take this special programming into account, the percentage is much lower. On a daily basis, the Arab sector is simply a non-issue in our media.

The statistics concerning the Arab minority shout for attention.

Crime statistics for 2007 show that it is more than double in the Arab sector relative to the Jewish one. In 2008, the percentage of Jewish students who finished high school with passing marks in their matriculation exams was 54%, in the Arab sector it was only 44%.

The size of black market transactions in the Arab sector (as well as in the haredi one) is known to be very high, skewing national statistics, which show a very high level of poverty.

The Arab sector receives substantial subsidies from the state in various forms. Their “contribution” to traffic accidents is approximately double the relative size of their population.

The lack of serious discussion of what really happens within the Arab sector, within their newspapers, mosques and educational institutions leads at the end of the day to the present distancing of the Jewish population from the Arab one.

Instead of a consolidated media effort to integrate them, the opposite happens. By ignoring them and not worrying about the democratic process within the Arab sector, our media contributes to the exacerbation of the problem.

The fact that the Israeli Arab political leadership largely does not recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state does not reflect the attitude of all Arab citizens.

Why is it, then, that they do not manage to elect a different kind of leadership? Could it be that the Israeli media colludes by not paying sufficient attention and so allows those politicians whose respect for the law and the democratic process is lacking to dominate them?


May 17, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: Our wise sages

Posted in Media at 11:06 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Our wise sages


A society should be judged by the stature and relevance of its sages. But what should be done when such people are lacking?

The politician was blunt in his critical review of the behavior of the media. In a recent speech he said, “No wonder that faith in our institutions has never been lower, particularly when good news doesn’t get the same kind of ratings as bad news anymore… every day you receive a steady stream of sensationalism and scandal and stories with a message that suggest change isn’t possible; that you can’t make a difference; that you won’t be able to close that gap between life as it is and life as you want it to be. My job today is to tell you don’t believe it…. See, the question is not whether things will get better – they always do. The question is not whether we’ve got the solutions to our challenges – we’ve had them within our grasp for quite some time.”

No, that was not a quotation from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu deflating the sharp media attack on his recent “elections – yes, elections – no” episode, the formation of a new coalition with a man who called him a liar, defending his Iran policy or his commitment for the continued residency of Jews in Judea and Samaria. Those were the words of US President Barack Obama in a commencement speech before the students graduating from the all-girls Barnard College in New York City on May 14.

Such a message does not manage to get absorbed by our media. Dalia Mazor, at the age of 62, has a long media history in Israel. She received her first training as a soldier at the army radio station – Galatz. In 1969, she started work as an anchor at the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Channel 1 TV station.

For a period of 13 years, she was the main anchorperson of the daily IBA news program, at a time when it still had very high ratings.

She retired from the IBA a year ago and since then serves as an anchor on Channel 2’s New Day morning program. One might think that as a veteran with so much experience, Mazor would be the model of what we media consumers expect a professional and ethical media personality to be. But no, after so many years of involvement, she simply felt, it seems, that she could express herself however she wished. On May 6, in the wake of a question on the issue of new elections and the polls favoring the Likud leader, she had this to say: “It is sad that Netanyahu will be reelected.”

Eitan Lifshitz is another one of our “wise leaders.”

He has a Friday morning program on Galatz in which he reviews the news of the week. Last Friday he had some profound advice for our politicians: “If a solution is not found for the [Bet-El] Ulpana Hill neighbor – hood one should destroy their homes with their residents.”

No, he did not mean to literally eliminate them, only to treat them like the Gush Katif residents, that is, expel them from their houses. What happens to them after the expulsion is of no further interest.

Yaron London is a media icon, today, a Channel 10 presenter. As also reported in The Jerusalem Post, he has taken it upon himself to provide the just solution to the “haredi problem.” This is what he had to say in an op-ed article in Yediot Aharonot on May 7: “Has the time not arrived in which we should express what lies on our heart? Haredism educates to parasitism and encourages poverty. It is the strongest of purveyors of ignorance, pre-conceived notions and other stupidities.”

Esti Perez is one of the mainstays of Radio Kol Yisrael’s Reshet Bet news programs. One of her specialties seems to be youth education. Last December, in a ceremony in Lydda, Arab youths did not rise in honor of President Shimon Peres. In reaction to a complaint of the Bnei Akiva youth movement on the issue, Perez said, “Perhaps it is a bit exaggerated to ruin all the relationship just because someone did or did not rise for the president.”

As we all know so well, our politicians are redundant.

All that our democracy really needs are our media darlings. Anat Davidov, also of Reshet Bet, let us know exactly what she thinks about the recent spate of suggested laws aimed at reducing the powers of the Supreme Court: “Anti-democratic legislation.”

She was not the only one, by any means. Jonathan Rieger of TV Channel 2 news termed them “anti-civil legislation.”

One of the most interesting aspects of our media sages is the terrible seriousness with which they take themselves. A year ago, Yair Lapid, before he went out of the box had this to say of himself in an article in Yediot: “It is true that I am not a left winger, but you must admit that it is a bit strange that in all my 30 years [as a journalist] no one has even tried to hint against or for whom I should write.”

A society should be judged by the stature and relevance of its sages. But what should be done when such people are lacking? Well, the speech we quoted from at the beginning of this article contained some very good suggestions from President Obama: “So don’t accept somebody else’s construction of the way things ought to be. It’s up to you to right wrongs. It’s up to you to point out injustice. It’s up to you to hold the system accountable and sometimes upend it entirely. It’s up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote. Don’t be content to just sit back and watch.”

Our media “sages” would shut up if we the public would clarify to them that we are not interested in their opinions. We would add that our true sages have this advice : “Wise people, be careful with what you say,” and especially, “Silence is appropriate for people of wisdom.”


May 10, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: Freedom of the press – who really cares?

Posted in Media tagged , , at 12:19 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Freedom of the press – who really cares?


The “democracy in danger” slogan figures prominently in “Beinartism,” the theory that Israel’s policies threaten its democracy.

This past year, a major public campaign was launched by the media in tandem with the liberal, progressive ideological camp in Israel on the theme that Israel is moving in an alarmingly anti-democratic direction.

One of the campaign’s central showpieces of the alleged crackdowns on the freedom of press was legislation that would increase the penalty for defamation. The defenders of our free press claimed that this would stifle dissent and investigative reporting. A second was a proposed law that would enable anyone, even residents of Judea and Samaria, to sue organizers of boycotts, provided of course that proof exists of economic injury. Free speech, so say our wise men, should protect calls for boycotts, even if they lead to real damage.

The “democracy in danger” slogan also figures prominently in “Beinartism.” Named after Peter Beinart, a journalist and former editor of America’s The New Republic, Beinartism is the theory that Israel’s current policies are a threat to the country’s democracy. They are, so it is argued, causing an irreparable split between the younger Jewish generation in the United States and the Jewish establishment leadership which uncritically supports Israel’s loss of democracy and indeed, morality.

As an act of public responsibility and in protest against the perceived dangerous media legislation initiatives, various NGOs published newspaper adverts. Using editorial considerations, a euphemism for certain elements of the media to exert control of what we read, watch and hear – and what we do not – representatives of these NGOs were interviewed to discuss these issues under the slogan “An end to the silencing.”

The same elements took advantage of friendships with the more liberal of their colleagues abroad to hammer away at claims, such as that of advocate Michael Sfard in The New York Review of Books this past March, that freedom of speech and other similar values “are currently being taken apart.” Sfard’s interviewer, Dimi Reider, suggested that there is a “decline of Israel’s independent press.” He reasoned that Israel’s administration of Judea and Samaria, which is, in his mind, an undemocratic system, “is now seeping back across the Green Line.”

Indeed, there has been recently a major threat to freedom of press and expression. Journalists have been imprisoned, censored, hounded and interrogated. Interference with Internet contacts and Facebook postings became habitual. All this, of course is occurring in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority and at the order of the PA’s president.

In an April press release (a virtual repeat of one which was issued exactly a year ago), Human Rights Watch demanded that “the Palestinian Authority… should not criminally prosecute Yusuf al-Shayeb, a journalist detained without charge… and released… being investigated for libeling PA officials whom he accused of spying and corruption. The PA should also release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages… harassing and arresting journalists.”

THIS IS seen by Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East director, as “send[ing] a chilling message about exercising the right to free expression.”

Surprisingly, the Israeli colleagues of these Arab journalists and media people are strangely silent. No protests, no posters, no petitions. There were no ads published in the same places where just a few months large sums were paid for many column inches to protest the same “crimes” against their profession.

One would think that Israel’s journalists would at least exhibit a modicum of sympathy for what is going on under the iron thumb of Arab dictatorship. Putting solidarity aside, one might think that assuring the essentials of democracy in the Palestinian Authority is essential for anyone with a vision of peace between the PA and Israel. If there is no democracy in the proposed future state of “Palestine” and no free press is a sign of no democracy, how can we expect peace to flourish?

In a piece published at the Carter Center website back in August 2007, B’Tselem’s Jessica Montell wrote that “documenting abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is crucial… [and] also to affect situations on the ground to mitigate suffering,” adding that “groups like B’Tselem can influence the dynamics of the conflict.”

But what influence can there be if abuses of human rights and civil liberties, such as the muffling of a free press, are either ignored and receive inadequate attention especially from those groups who have proved to be quite vocal when Israel is perceived to be a culprit, rightly or wrongly?

B’Tselem, which seeks to “champion human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” does have a section devoted to “intra-Palestinian violations” but that seems limited to violent Fatah- Hamas rivalries. A check of the site this week revealed no reports on what even Human Rights Watch viewed as dangerous in their press release.

Peace Now’s Yariv Oppenheimer wrote an op-ed in Ma’ariv asserting that “the Israeli occupation is illegal, undemocratic, immoral and antithetical to Zionism, regardless of the atrocities taking place in Homs, Tripoli or Tehran.”

On November 21 last year, Peace Now organized a protest in Tel Aviv against the libel law amendment. The demonstrators shouted “Bibi, you’ve gone too far – Israel is not Iran.”

Meretz’s MK Nitzan Horowitz addressed the crowd and called the controversial legislation “fascist” despite the declaration in the Knesset of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that as long as he was “prime minister, Israel will continue to be an exemplary and resilient democracy. No one will dictate what to think, what to write, what to investigate, and what to broadcast.”

By leaving Ramallah out of their protests, our self-anointed guardians of “essential rights” such as freedom of the press would appear to be quite one-sided in their campaigns. They seem to trust an Abbas or a Fayyad more than a Netanyahu. They are also strangely silent on the issue of anti- Semitic incitement in the Palestinian Authority media.

Freedom of the press is essential to the democratic system. However, those people who fear for democratic values only in the context of criticism of Israel’s government and Knesset, while ignoring the very dangerous misdeeds of the Palestinian Authority, lose credibility.

The strange silence of organizations such as B’Tselem, Peace Now, the Israel Democracy Institute and Israel’s Journalists Associations when true democratic values such as the freedom of the press are trampled in the PA, weakens their moral standing also within Israel. They resemble the boy who cried wolf too often.

Should we take their criticism of Israeli society seriously, or should we suspect that their motivation has less to do with democracy and morality and is mostly politically motivated?


May 3, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: When is a hoax punished?

Posted in Media at 12:41 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: When is a hoax punished?


Channel 10 News would do well to heed the admonition of Leo Rennert and work hard to bring to us the “real” news.

Leo Rennert, a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers, recently complained that too many Israel-related stories were being ignored by such global mainstream media outlets as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In April alone, such stories included arrests of journalists by the Palestinian Authority, various rockets launched from Gaza exploding in Israel, Muslims rejection of shared prayer areas at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, armed Arabs, several teenagers, trying to infiltrate Israel for purposes of terror on two separate occasions, a stabbing of Jews in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day and again on April 26 as well as Hamas’ refusal to honor any peace treaty with Israel. A defacement of the Ammunition Hill Memorial was broadly broadcast, but perhaps this was due to the suspicion falling on haredim (ultra-Orthodox) rather than Arabs.

Some of these stories also did not make it into the Israeli media, and certainly not with great prominence. A story that was featured, however, on Channel 10 television news, turned out to be false.

Reporter Sivan Cohen delivered on Sunday what was actually nothing more than a hoax. Her viewers heard that a nine-year-old Israeli girl had nearly been abducted at Disney World in Orlando but was shortly after found by her parents drugged in a bathroom with her head shaved. The parents were unnamed, no corroborating information was aired either in the form of an audio interview or a video. By Monday, Ms. Cohen had been suspended and an inquiry is being conducted.

Cohen was quoted saying, “I spoke with the father and he claimed that the story was true, and was filmed and recorded. Since yesterday was Sunday and we knew that there was no one to answer at Disney, we discussed it at the studio and we attributed the allegations to the father.”

But is Ms. Cohen the sole person responsible for the story? Did she did not have an editor? A fact-checker? A foreign-news desk head? Is Israeli professional journalism, before we discuss ethics, dependent on but one person within a large news organization? Another story, not quite a hoax, but spun ideologically, was the item first presented by Haaretz, in its front-page placement, as a gang rape. An unnamed female employee of the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s office was the source for a tale about a beach orgy, so the public was informed, with a woman out of control and being taken advantage of and incapable of resisting the advances of the young men. It ran for several days and then, after a police investigation, turned out to be a “happy hooker” tale of an alcohol-fueled prostitute on her day off trying to get her boyfriend jealous.

But Haaretz wouldn’t let go and began accusing the police of negligence, claiming they were not interested in arresting the guilty or, worse, simply ignored the complaint.

To Professor Steve Plaut’s understanding, “radical feminists took advantage of the opportunity to lecture the patriarchal male chauvinists among us on how badly women are oppressed in Israel.” Haaretz was not only taking its readers for a ride, but taking a ride on this social orientation. News it was, but truth it wasn’t.

However, Haaretz is not alone in providing us with inaccurate “news.” Channel 10’s Orr Heller is another purveyor of questionable stories. His unethical recording of Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner’s conversation with a third party was not an isolated incident. Heller acts as a spokesperson for B’tselem. He brings to Channel 10 their edited stories.

For example, as reported on the Latma website, in January 2010 he reported a story of Arab youths demonstrating near Neveh Tzuf. They are contained by the army through the use of smoke bombs and other standard methods to break up demonstrations.

Heller described the Arabs as nonviolent even though a jeep’s mirror was broken, a shed was burned down and the Arabs engaged in forcible shoving. This is the model of civil nonviolent demonstrations? Then, some Jewish youths appear on the scene and throw rocks at the Palestinians.

The IDF, according to the report, does nothing to stop them. To show that it is IDF policy to do nothing against the Jewish hoodlums an interview is conducted with a lieutenant who “explains” that his job is not to arrest Jews but only Palestinians.

The clip was a B’tselem production. The “interview” was old and had nothing to do with the Neveh Tzuf demonstrations. Did Channel 10 dismiss Heller for presenting a fabricated and edited clip? Was an investigation initiated? No.

A year later, he presented another clip, supposedly documenting “how police violently arrest a Palestinian child.” In fact, the video does not show any violence, only an arrest of a youngster the police claim was throwing rocks. Again, Channel 10 permitted a “star” reporter to present questionable headlines.

Perhaps though, the most striking aspect of this whole saga is the dichotomy between the channel’s reaction to Orr Heller and to Sivan Cohen. Cohen was duped into broadcasting what was a hoax. Probably motivated to provide a “scoop,” she acted rashly, as did her editors, and she paid the price immediately. Heller, on the other hand, is the channel’s “star.” His politically-motivated stories, which have a common thread of giving the IDF an unjustified black eye, lead to no reaction, if anything to promotion. It is this kind of unethical journalism which gives our media a bad name, much more than the silly error of Ms. Cohen.

Channel 10 pays a price for its folly for the public clearly prefers other news sources.

Channel 10 News would do well to heed the admonition of Leo Rennert and work hard to bring to us the “real” news. Yet it is the public that ultimately pays the price. The channel’s news corporation does not live up to the expectation of having a third news broadcaster which successfully competes with channels one and two. The politicians who fought for its existence, hoping for a highquality news channel, were duped.

Isn’t it time to give the stage to someone else?