March 28, 2013

MEDIA COMMENT: The doomsayers

Posted in Media at 12:46 am by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: The doomsayers. by YISRAEL MEDAD, ELI POLLAK, 27/03/2013

Media coverage, implications of understandings of international coverage impact “fear-mongering” of public, perhaps unnecessarily.

One of the outstanding aspects of last week’s visit by President Barack Obama was the demonstration of the depth of our media’s misconception and lack of understanding with regard to the international scene. Let’s review some of our media gurus’ pronouncements prior to the visit with respect to the relationship between the United States and Israel and between Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Amos Harel of Haaretz, back on September 4, 2012, had this to say: “The negative scenario is that Obama resorts to a general, foggy statement about Iran, but remembers to close his account with Netanyahu in response to the happenings of the past few months, right after his election victory (if he is victorious). It is difficult to discount the huge damage incurred to the strategic relations between Israel and the United States resulting from the wave of Israeli pronunciations.”

Barak Ravid, on January 15, 2013, reports that Jeffrey Goldberg, supposedly an Obama administration insider, cites Obama as saying that Netanyahu “does not understand Israel’s interests” and that furthermore, “Netanyahu’s actions will lead Israel towards serious international isolation.” Ravid goes on to remind us that Goldberg’s Bloomberg column is “very similar to Peter Beinart’s recent column which described the White House’s lack of trust in and frustration with Binyamin Netanyahu.”

Ynet’s Washington correspondent Yitzchak Ben-Chorin wrote an article on January 25, 2011, headlined “Obama-Netanyahu relations are worse than ever,” in which he wrote: “The level of personal relationships between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama is tending towards zero… During Thanksgiving, the attitude has changed due to the refusal to continue a building freeze in Judea and Samaria.”

Thomas Friedman, the darling of Israel’s Left, whose political analyses with regard to the Middle East have been more often off the mark than on it, wrote in The New York Times last November 10: “Israeli friends have been asking me whether a re-elected President Obama will take revenge on Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for the way he and Sheldon Adelson, his foolhardy financier, openly backed Mitt Romney. My answer to Israelis is this: You should be so lucky.”

Not all journalists got it all so wrong. For example, in the aftermath of Obama’s re-election, Tal Shalev, on the Walla website, had a much more sober and realistic description of the Netanyahu-Obama relationship. He correctly predicted President Obama would visit Israel to mend his tarnished image in the eyes of the Israeli public. He noted that Obama is a pragmatist motivated by goals, not personal feelings.

The hair-raising predictions of doom failed to materialize, but this did not faze the doomsayers, who will continue bashing Israel’s society and government irrespective of the facts. Gideon Levy, of Haaretz infamy, summarized the president’s visit to Israel on March 24, as reflected in the TV studios, as follows: “US President Barack Obama never stood a chance. …His assignment was to break down the iron wall of Israeli political commentators, and that is a mission impossible even for a statesman of his caliber. These carefully selected studio pundits… say what is expected of them. …They generally know everything, and they did not disappoint. …[They C]ozied up to the politicians, from whom they learned that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak left no stone unturned in his desire to make peace (a lie) and that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas the moon (another lie); that there is no Palestinian partner for peace and that Israel is a peaceloving nation (lie, lie).”

Neither are dire, irresponsible and false warnings limited to the issue of Obama-Netanyahu relations. Another favorite topic is the Israeli “occupation.” Too many Israeli journalists have predicted that the “occupation” will lead to Israel’s downfall. Renowned author and Peres-darling David Grossman warned in an Haaretz essay (November 4, 2011) that, “In a place where there are millions of downtrodden people there is no status quo. …They will become stronger… until they will surprisingly emerge with great force.”

Channel 2 commentator Amnon Abramowitz is another “occupation” guru. In a January 6, 2012, interview with Einat Schiff at Walla, he states: “The occupation is the problem… Had we been sitting here 20 or 30 years ago and had you told me that in 2012 Israel would still be sitting in the West Bank with a variety of settlements, I would have thought [you had a bad case of] lunacy.”

Another favorite topic of the doomsayers is the demographic demon, which supposedly will destroy Israel as a Jewish state. One of the high priests of the demographic catastrophe is Akiva Eldar, who for example had this to say in an October 16, 2012, Haaretz editorial: “The Jewish majority is history. The government’s acknowledgement that Jews are a minority in this land means one thing only: Apartheid is here.”

Professor Arnon Sofer of Haifa University gave the demographic demon legitimacy with his statistics. He was arguably the most convincing academic, as far as former prime minister Sharon was concerned, in justifying his expulsion of Jews from the Gaza strip and northern Samaria, all under the guise of the demon. Even after Yoram Ettinger published his findings showing how much of the demographic data are unclear, to say the least, Sofer’s doom-saying did not abate.

Following the expulsion, in a February 13, 2006, Ynet article, Sofer claimed that “The demographic demon is alive and kicking.” He negates Ettinger’s statistics but admits that the Jews outnumber the Palestinians, claiming that “according to the expected natural reproduction rate, both populations will reach equality by the year 2020.”

At that time, Sofer’s numbers were 3.8 million Palestinians vs. 5.2 million Jews. Yoram Ettinger claims that the number of Palestinians is 2.85 million.

The US census bureau estimated the number of Palestinians as 4.0 million in 2006 and 3.94 million in 2009. This census shows that between 2006 and 2009 there was no growth, implying that Sofer is quite wrong in his statistics. Did Sofer backtrack? Apologize? Of course not. On October 4, 2010, he continued his doomsday prophesy: “There is no choice but to deal with forecasts for the next decade or two, and it turns out that by then the proportion of Jews will have declined to 42 percent. That means an end to the Jewish entity in the Middle East.”

Passover is a festival of hope, optimism and freedom. The Israeli public can continue to sleep at night without fear of the doomsayers. Actually, it would sleep better if it did what should be done, namely hold the doomsayers who dominate our media accountable for their unjustified fear-mongering. We believe that a proud and free Israel, which is certain in its morality and history, which knows that there is no other country under siege in the world which reacts so positively to world events and which contributes to world society so much, is an Israel which will continue for many more years to proudly celebrate the Passover festival.

^

Advertisements

March 21, 2013

MEDIA COMMENT: An ‘apartheid’ journalist

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:10 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: An ‘apartheid’ journalist
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 20/03/2013

Discussion and debate in Israel are robust and free-wheeling, as they should be in a democracy.

Rino Tzror is a much-admired journalist. He has been an editor and has also directed award winning documentary films. He is currently the moderator of the Army Radio station (Galatz) Thursday news show Ma Boer? (What’s Burning?).

Two week ago he dealt with the question of the new bus service for Palestinians who are permitted to enter Israel. The Transportation Ministry claims that to alleviate the problem of Arabs resident in Judea and Samaria who wish to wish to work in Israel having to pay exorbitant prices to taxi drivers or other “transporters,” as well for security reasons, it decided to take action. The assistance was in the form of providing bus service into Israel, for a reduced fee of five to 10 shekels, depending on the destination.

Haim Levinson claimed in Haaretz on March 4 that the true motivation for these bus lines was complaints by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria against the presence of Palestinians on their buses. The residents were afraid of the security consequences of such mingling. The Transportation Ministry heeded their request, according to Levinson, and created the new bus service. Levinson did note, though, that the new service is a “hit” and that thousands of Palestinians are using it.

Ido Benbaggi, the “territories” correspondent for Galatz, provided the background to Tzror’s program. He interviewed some Palestinians who were upset with the new bus lines.

Benbaggi did not provide any information about Palestinians who were actually thankful for the savings in time and money. In fact, the service, which initially had only 12 weekly buses, was increased by the Transportation Ministry to 40-60 buses per week. The ministry spokesperson claimed that neither Benbaggi nor the editors of the Ma Boer program had requested any ministry response.

Tzror continued the item with a long interview with Prof. Yedidya Stern of the Israel Democracy Institute.

Stern had only very sharp criticism for these new bus lines. Tzror not only did not even attempt to ask tough questions, or act as a “devil’s advocate,” as a professional journalist would, he “helped” Stern by repeatedly referring to the new bus lines as “apartheid lines.”

This is not the first time Tzror has used such terminology. In an Educational TV interview with Anat Zruya, a producer of films on haredi (ultra- Orthodox) society, he referred a number of times to Zruya’s claim that the haredi community is an “apartheid” society. He did not attempt to question Zruya’s choice of language, rather he gave the impression that he identified with her views. In fact, Tzror’s programs are all too often characterized by a onesided choice of topics and by “convenient” guests, who tend to share Tzror’s views on the issues or with whom Tzor identifies.

Tzror is not alone when it comes to using the A-word. Akiva Eldar from Haaretz wrote on October 16, 2012: “The government’s acknowledgment that Jews are a minority in the land means one thing only: Apartheid is here.”

Gidon Levi, from the same paper, titled his op-ed of November 11, 2012, with: “Apartheid, what else could it be?” Another A-worder is former Meretz education minister Shulamit Aloni, who in an article dated December 31, 2006 lets us know that: “Indeed yes, Apartheid in Israel.”

APARTHEID IS a loaded term. It is defined in the Internet “Free Dictionary” as “An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.” It is also defined as “A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.”

It so happens that this year’s annual “Israel Apartheid Week” was celebrated by our enemies in Europe from February 25 to March 10, in the United States and Canada from March 4 to March 8. Zror made his contribution to this “festival” right on time.

Interestingly, this same Rino Tzror was chosen this year by the ministerial committee for ceremonies to be one of the 12 people who will kindle a flame on Israel’s Independence Day. The decision to honor Tzror was made prior to March 7. However, one can question such a decision on a few counts. Is Tzror the most worthy journalist for such an honor? Did the ministerial committee consider other journalists? What was so special about Tzror? But more seriously, we believe that there is something wrong with politicians bestowing honors upon active journalists. Can we be sure that the journalist so honored will not be more forgiving or more willing to provide air time to those politicians involved in choosing him? There is though another aspect of this issue which is worth considering.

The army radio station received many letters of complaint against Tzror’s usage of the word “apartheid.” Yet, the station did not admit any wrongdoing and was not willing to apologize for such language, or assure that such misuse of the publicly funded airwaves would not repeat itself. We ask, what can be done about such infractions or violations of professional journalism codes and ethics guidelines? Any attempt by either a government agency or civic society associations to suggest formal regulatory institutions or legislation is met with very strong resistance. In an article published on March 18 in the UK Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips takes up the cudgels in defense of the press as “the last bastion of a free society,” arguing against regulation by government. Her view is that “press freedom is the one that guarantees all the rest” and that without it, “… thus uninvigilated, the institutions of a free society would turn rotten and disintegrate.”

We agree. Nevertheless, while Phillips is discussing the private press, we would suggest that state sponsored media outlets, that is, the television and radio broadcasting networks, are different. In the first instance, by definition they are funded by the public and so should not be permitted to misrepresent it.

Tzror blemished Israeli society as a whole. Public broadcasting should be pluralistic, open to all sections of society as can be practically feasible.

There must be a rigid framework to deny a minority – the editors and show hosts and reporters – the ability to dominate the airwaves with their private weltanschauung.

Secondly, since they are funded through our tax money, we, the “public,” are the owners and it is our right to demand supervision. Thirdly, Phillips’ concern, that “that the more the press is made accountable to an outside regulator… the more freedom dies,” applies when the readers have a choice. A newspaper can be purchased, or not. In Israel, we have very few options but to listen to and watch public broadcasting. Given the lack of a free market, supervision is necessary.

Discussion and debate in Israel are robust and free-wheeling, as they should be in a democracy. On the other hand, irresponsibility, lack of factual information or unfair ethical biases practiced by journalists, especially those in our public broadcasting system, need not be tolerated.

Disciplinary regulations should be in place and used.

^

March 14, 2013

An Introduction to the 1936-39 “Disturbances”

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:14 pm by yisraelmedad

An Introduction

“By early May 1936 the Palestinians were in open rebellion.

[But what had ahppened in April?

Here’s their chronology:

1936

April 16: Two Palestinians living near Petah Tikva shot dead by Zionist assailants.

April 20-30: National Committees established in all Palestinian towns and large villages.

April 21: Leaders of all five Palestinian political parties call for general strike.

April 25: Leaders of Palestinian political parties constituted as Arab Higher Committee under chairmanship of Haj Amin al-Husseini.

May 8: Conference of all National Committees, meeting in Jerusalem, calls for no taxation without representation. Great Rebellion begins.

But did violence break out that way?

From Wikipedia:

The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs in the British Mandate for Palestine against British colonial rule and mass Jewish immigration.

More:

In 1930 Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam organized and established the Black Hand, an anti-Zionist and anti-British militant organization…by 1935 he had enlisted between 200 and 800 men…they used to murder Jewish settlers in the area, as well as engaging in a campaign of vandalizing trees planted by settlers and British-constructed rail lines. In November 1935…British police launched a manhunt and surrounded al-Qassam in a cave near Ya’bad. In the ensuing battle, al-Qassam was killed.
 
The dissent in Palestine was influenced also by the discovery in October 1935 at the port of Jaffa of a large arms shipment destined for the Haganah, sparking Arab fears of a Jewish military takeover of Palestine, Jewish immigration also peaked in 1935…The uprising began with an attack on 15 April 1936 on a convoy of trucks on the Nablus to Tulkarm road during which the (probably Qassamite) assailants shot two Jewish drivers, Israel Khazan, who was killed instantly, and Zvi Dannenberg, who died five days later.

National Committees, which would become the organizational base of the rebels, had been established in April in all the Palestinian towns and larger villages. Before the end of the month, all five Palestinian political parties had united to form the Arab Higher Committee under the chairmanship of Haj Amin al-Husseini.

That’s what was left out]

THE FIRST PHASE

The rebellion endured for three years and fell into three phases. The first phase lasted from May 1936 to July 1937, with the general strike continuing for the first six months of it, from May until October 1936. The strike was strictly observed and brought commercial and economic activity in the Palestinian sector to a standstill. Unrest spread to the countryside, where villagers took up arms and engaged the British security and military forces in open guerrilla warfare.

The British rushed in reinforcements and demolished parts of the Old City of Jaffa as a punitive measure. Some volunteers from the Arab countries came to the aid of the Palestinian rebels, but the brunt of the fighting was borne by the Palestinians themselves. The British intensified their military operations, simultaneously sending a commission of inquiry under Lord Peel to ascertain the causes of the rebellion. The heads of the neighboring Arab states then appealed to the Arab Higher Committee to call off the general strike and appear before the Peel CommisCommission. On October II, the Arab Higher Committee acceded to their request. There was a short lull in the rebellion between November 1936 and January 1937 while the commission toured the country. But tension subsequently mounted again until it exploded in unprecedented violence in July 1937.

THE SECOND PHASE

The second phase of the rebellion lasted from July 1937 until the fall of 1938. What triggered the new escalation of violence was the publication in July 1937 of the Peel Commission’s report, which unhesitatingly declared that “the underlying causes of the disturbances” were two: the desire of the Palestinians for independence, and their “hatred and fear of the establishment of the Jewish national home.” The report then proceeded to recommend the partition of the country into a Jewish state, a Palestinian state to be incorporated by Transjordan, and enclaves reserved for the Mandatory.

The Palestinians were outraged by these recommendations. They could not accept the legitimization of a Zionist political title in Palestine. Hundreds of Palestinian villages would fall within the Jewish state, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would become a subject minority in it. The Jewish state would acquire about 33 percent of the total area of the country (including the fertile regions of Galilee, all Palestinian- owned, and the coastal plain from the Lebanese border to Jaffa, owned equally by the two communities) at a time when Jewish ownership did not exceed 5.6 percent of Palestine.

The Palestinians feared the confiscation of their land inside the Jewish state through the application of the guidelines governing the activities of the Jewish National Fund. They resented the incorporation of the proposed Palestinian state into Transjordan. Above all they were horrified at the commission’s recommendation that they be forcibly transferred, if necessary, out of the Jewish state. Even the commission itself sounded sheepish in its summing up of the report when it hypocritically argued, “Considering what the possibility of finding a refuge in Palestine means to many thousands of suffering Jews, is the loss occasioned by partition, great as it would be, more than Arab generosity can bear?”

The British responded to the escalating Palestinian resistance by determining to break its backbone. Seizing the opportunity afforded by the assassination, in September 1937, of a British senior administrator in Nazareth by Palestinians, they promptly outlawed the Arab Higher Committee in addition to all Palestinian political parties and organizations. They arrested scores of Palestinian leaders and exiled five principal ones to the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. They threw thousands of Palestinians into special “detention camps”; among those detained were professionals, civil servants, clergymen, students, and farmers. In combat they used their air force, tanks, and heavy artillery against the rebels. Military tribunals passed summary sentences, including death by hanging, for the possession of arms. Collective punishment was imposed on towns and villages by blowing up entire residential quarters, closing schools, levying fines in kind or cash, and billeting troops at the expense of the residents.

At the same time, the British built up Jewish military strength. In cooperation with the Jewish Agency’s secret army, the Haganah, they organized, trained, and armed a special force called the Jewish Settlement Police (JSP), which by early1939 was 14,000 strong. In June 1938 they created an Anglo-Jewish unit called the Special Night Squads (SNS) for “special operations” against Palestinian villages. It was during this second phase of the rebellion that the new tactics of throwing grenades and planting time bombs in crowded marketplaces were introduced into the Zionist-Palestinian conflict by the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military OrganizationL the military branch of the right-wing Zionist Revisionist Party.

In 1938 alone the number of Palestinians killed in action by the British was conservatively estimated at not less than one thousand, while 54 Palestinians were executed by hanging, and 2,463 Palestinians were detained. The Palestinian population at the time did not exceed one million.

In spite of all these measures the Palestinian rebellion continued unabated during 1938, and several areas of the country, including the Old City of Jerusalem, fell under rebel control. Palestinian resistance elicited strong expressions of support and solidarity from the neighboring Arab countries. In September 1937 a popular pan-Arab congress, held in Bludan, Syria, endorsed Palestinian opposition to partition. Palestinian demands were again endorsed in October 1938 by the Arab Parliamentarians’ Congress and the Arab Women’s Congress, both held in Cairo.

THE THIRD PHASE

The third phase of the rebellion extended from the fall of 1938 until the summer of 1939. The British seemed to be moving on two tracks. As early as April 1938, they had dispatched another commission of inquiry, under the chairmanship of Sir John Woodhead, ostensibly to study the technical aspects of the implementation of partition. The Woodhead Commission’s report was published in November 1938, and its general conclusion was that partition was not practicable. Nevertheless, the British planned an all-out offensive to crush the rebellion. They brought in massive new reinforcements and transferred the administration of the country to military commanders. The ensuing engagements were the severest so far. Fifty-five Palestinians were executed by hanging, at least twelve hundred Palestinians were killed in action by the British, more than twice as many Palestinians were detained as in the previous year (1938), and five times as many rifles were seized from Palestinians in a drive to achieve their total disarmament.

With the publication of the Woodhead report, the British government also announced its intention to hold a general conference in London to be attended both by Zionist and Palestinian leaders and by representatives of the neighboring Arab countries. However, the British shortsightedly vetoed the participation in the conference of paramount Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini, chairman of the still-outlawed Arab Higher Committee. After escaping arrest in September 1937, Haj Amin had been directing the rebellion from his exile in Lebanon. The London Conference lasted from 7 February to 27 March 1939 without reaching a settlement satisfactory to the Zionists and Palestinians.

In May the British government published a new White Paper in which it undertook to implement, irrespective of Palestinian and Zionist objections, the policy enunciated: Britain’s obligations to the Jewish national home had been substantially fulfilled; indefinite mass Jewish immigration to and land acquisition in Palestine would contradict Britain’s obligations to the Palestinians; within the next five years, 75,000 more Jews would be allowed into the country, after which Jewish immigration would be subject to “Arab acquiescence”; land transfers would be permitted in certain areas, but restricted and prohibited in others, to protect the Palestinians from landlessness; and an independent unitary state would be established after ten years conditional on favorable Palestinian-Jewish relations.

Many Palestinians were positively impressed with the White Paper, but could not accept it because of the ambiguity of the phrase “Arab acquiescence” in relation to continuing future Jewish immigration, and the conditional nature of the promised independent unitary state. The Zionists accused the British of “appeasing” the Arabs and consulting their strategic interests in the area due to the deterioration of the international situation. The 1939 White Paper marked the beginning of the end of the Anglo-Zionist entente ushered in by the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

 

To be continued…

March 7, 2013

MEDIA COMMENT: Media appreciation

Posted in Media at 12:54 am by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: Media appreciation, by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK
06/03/2013

It is our hope that the Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism makes a significant contribution to improving media standards

A good word or a pat on the back may be sometimes much more helpful then constant criticism. This is even more so when the good word is deserved. It is for this reason that Israel’s Media Watch celebrates “good” media with its annual prize award ceremony.

The Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism is being awarded this year for the thirteenth time.

One may obtain some feeling for the quality of the award, by considering previous laureates. In fact many of them have continued their excellent work, irrespective of whether they have been given additional prizes or not.

In the year 1999, the first prizes ever were awarded to Motti Golan, today at the Globes newspaper, and Yoav Yitzchak, the editor of the News 1 website. Both have persevered with their media review work. Both are relentless in their pursuit of truth. They set a standard for future media review prizes.

In fact, this year, the prize committee of IMW was so impressed by Golan’s work it decided to award him a special citation at this year’s award ceremony in recognition of his Globes column. For example, Golan, in contrast to many of his counterparts, did not hesitate to criticize the methods used by his colleague Ilana Dayan in her Uvda program, which purportedly documents wrongdoings within Israeli society. Even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would feel the sharp side of his pen for backing down from legislation which would curb the freedom of the press to harm individuals.

Giving out prizes is not an easy job. Sometimes, one does not find enough deserving candidates, but life is much more difficult when there are too many and one has to make a tough decision. One way of easing it is by noting those who deserve the prize.

Neri Avneri is one of those unique people in Israeli society who feels the urge to donate his time and effort for the sake of all of us. For this purpose he has a hardcopy media archive in his home.

He has also created a media archive website (neri-avneri.co.il) which provides the public with archival material that in his words “our media prefers to hide.”

For example, if you want to know what our politicians had to say in their past about “united Jerusalem,” go to his website. You will be reminded for example that our president, Shimon Peres, declared the slogan “Peres will divide Jerusalem,” which starred in the 1996 election campaign, as “a blood libel.”

Yossi Beilin and Yossi Sarid made an oath on their honor that Jerusalem would not be divided.

IMW will also give Avneri a special citation for his dedicated media review service. Avneri deserves the recognition which the Israeli media does not give him.

A THEME which has appeared more than once in our columns is the lack of interest of our mainstream media in some of the minorities in Israel. This disinterest has been recently documented by Aref Abu Gwedr, a graduate student in Communications at Ben-Gurion University who wrote a paper on “The perception of young Israeli Arabs of the portrayal of the Arab population in the Israeli media.”

Abu Gwedr interviewed in depth a group of Arab citizens of Israel to take stock of their views and perceptions on the way Israeli Arabs are portrayed in Israel’s media. The questions touched on a variety of facets such as cultural, humor and satire programming and films.

From the many quoted excerpts, it is apparent that those interviewed consider that there exists a discriminatory view of the Arab minority in the media.

The coverage of the Arab minority is limited and when there are reports, they include many slighting remarks as well as negative portrayals. It is their feeling that as a result, the Arab citizens of Israel do not achieve genuine and appropriate media representation.

IMW’s academic prize committee, headed by Dr. Rafi Mann, decided that Abu Gwedr well deserves IMW’s academic prize for academic excellence in media review. One would hope that such recognition would make a dent in the wall of our disinterested media.

One would also hope that such recognition contributes a wee bit to creating a change in the perception of the young Arab population as to Israeli society’s relation to them.

A topic which is normally ignored by various prizes is economic journalism. Its importance cannot be belittled. We obtain our information about financial markets, companies, governmental actions, salaries, sales and much more from the media. Yet oftentimes we worry that the purveyor has hidden interests, especially when reporting on powerful financial institutions and companies.

For this reason, IMW instituted the Israel Prize for Quality Economic Journalism which, this year, has been awarded to Yael Ayalon of Kol Yisrael. Ayalon is a senior economic correspondent, covering Israeli economics for many years.

The news she brings to the public excels in its verity and depth. Her reports are balanced and pointed.

She had no fear of publicizing outrageous corruption in Israel’s central Labor union – the Histadrut.

She was the first to reveal that Israel’s employers wanted to limit the powers of Israel’s labor court and much more.

The central prize awarded is the Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism. This year it goes to two people, each of which heads a media review organization. One is Hanoch Marmari, a former editor of Haaretz and presently the editor of the Israel Democracy Institute’s “The Seventh Eye” Internet media review magazine. The second is Chanie Luz, director of the Tadmit center for media review at the Legal Forum for Eretz Yisrael.

Although both organizations may be characterized as being left and right respectively, both have contributed significantly to media review in Israel.

For example, the Seventh Eye provides the interested reader, lawmaker and researcher with comprehensive information about the movement toward conditioning the usage of news portals with payment, as being now practiced by the Haaretz newspaper. The magazine covers in depth various issues having to do with their perception of mismanagement at the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Luz exposed during her work extreme bias against the settlers and the settlement movement at the Army Radio station Galatz. Her organization has carried out and publicized comparative studies of how certain issues are covered by our media, showing the disparity between human rights efforts when it comes to Arabs, Jews and settlers. Luz has a weekly media review column in the Besheva weekly and is involved in many different aspects of media review in Israel.

The media needs its consumers and the consumers deserve good media. It is our hope that the It is our hope that the Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism makes a significant contribution to improving media standards, providing for a more ethical and professional media that better serves Israel’s democracy.

^