December 15, 2013

Temple Mount High

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 9:01 pm by yisraelmedad

Temple Mount high

By YISRAEL MEDAD, 15/12/2013

With all the difficulties, the state must resolve the absurdity of the situation whereby a Jew is the second-class citizen at this so very Jewish place.

Lately, hardly ever a day passes without a news item relating in some way to the Temple Mount. This is not only true as regards Israel’s local media, including longer in-depth articles in weekend editions – newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Le Monde have been devoting special reports to the site, as well.

On the average of once a month or so, the Knesset’s Interior Committee convenes, chaired by Likud MK Miri Regev, who enthusiastically supports Jewish prayer within the compound. Police representatives are required to report on their activities and explain their failure to uphold the law which guarantees free access and worship. Arab MKs shout and rant and warn that their constituents will react violently, a tactic for which they never apologize, and never denounce.

The courts are also a venue for Temple Mount activity. After being arrested four years ago and banned from the Temple Mount for some two years, Yehuda Glick, a central figure of the Coordinating Council of Temple Mount Organizations, recently won a NIS 30,000 payment from the police in the courtroom of Magistrate Malka Aviv for unjustified arrest. Last month, following a two-week hunger strike, another ban was lifted by the police after they realized its arbitrariness could not be defended.

Not only are old customs being revived, but new customs are being encouraged.

The past few years, brides on the eve of their weddings have been visiting the Temple Mount. Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely was one of the more famous such visitors. This has developed from the necessity for ritual immersion prior to entrance for those who observe those halachic instructions. Since religious unmarried women do not visit the mikveh, the first opportunity they have is just prior to their chuppah ceremony. The IDF also has weekly visits of hundreds of soldiers.

Islamists are quite concerned by these developments. Arab-language websites followed by Jewish activists are full of pictures and stories. Video clips are uploaded and Facebook accounts highlight occurrences. They post and translate posters issued by Temple Mount groups. And they exaggerate details or resort to fictitious renditions of reality.

Anyone who visits cannot miss the men of al-Shabab al-Aqsa, recruited by Sheikh Ra’ed Salah’s Northern Branch Islamic Movement, who sit in study circles.

They are there to “defend al-Aqsa” by staking out territory through a squatting maneuver so as to prevent Jews from attempting to pray on the Temple Mount or display any other overt act of obvious Jewish identification with the site.

These extremists are paid for each “shift” that they work, as are those of a “Women’s Corps” who share the “defense” duties. Arab affairs expert Avi Issachoroff has written that these ladies, also recruited by the Islamic Movement, are generally poor, divorced or widows. Their salaries and transportation are taken care of, as are those of the men, by Salah’s group.

They shout insults and cries of “Allah Akhbar” at non-Muslim visitors, and recently, physically move into the space of the Jewish visitors, attempting to cause an incident that will then be exploited, as has happened previously when a policeman was blamed for “throwing” a Koran on the floor.

The Islamic presence is varied. The site itself is administered through the Jordanian Ministry of Religious Trust/Wakf. Hamas tries to make inroads. There are, at times, members of the Kharkat al-Tahrir and Salafist movements as well as others depending of the events of the day, such as pro-Sisi and anti-Morsi demonstrators or supporters of Erdogan of Turkey. More importantly, though, was the March Jordan-Palestinian Authority agreement.

That document recalled “the unique religious importance, to all Muslims, of al-Masjid al-Aqsa” and “the role of King Al Sharif Hussein Bin Ali in protecting…the holy sites in Jerusalem… [since] March 11, 1924.” It also recognized “that the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people is expressed in realizing the State of Palestine whose territory encompasses the land within which al-Masjid al-Aqsa (al-Haram al-Sharif) is situated.” The parties operationally agreed that King Abdallah II is to be “the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites.”

There are other Muslim voices. Mudar Zahran published on December 9 his “Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque?” describing a recent visit to the Temple Mount. He was shocked at Al-Aqsa’s neglected state, being in need of maintenance.

Scaffolding has been up for years to impress donors, but nothing gets repaired. He learned that Jordan provides the money for salaries but that there is no accountability for the staff’s handling of the money.

One staff member, asked why al-Aqsa was in such a state, told Zahran to ask Azzam al-Khatib [al-Aqsa’s manager]. Another employee at the Dome of the Rock informed him, oddly, that “this is all the fault of the Jews; they are to blame for all of this.” The answer he received to the question of how the Jews were responsible, exactly, was a shrug of the shoulders. His conclusion was that “it seems that it is we Arabs and Muslims who are harming Al-Aqsa, not Israel or the Jews.”

The real negligence on the Temple Mount is the unwillingness of the State of Israel to assert its full sovereignty there. Ever since Moshe Dayan squatted down with the Wakf on June 17, 1967, together with David Farhi, and symbolically returned the keys to the gates, the state has sensessly kowtowed to the most fanatical behavior.

Only in August 1967 did Dayan take the key to the Muhgrabi Gate back from Wakf head Hassan Tahboub, and military police were stationed at the entrance to the gate. Later, regular police assumed supervision.

On April 22, the above mentioned PA-Jordanian Agreement on Jerusalem caused MK Yariv Levine (Likud) to ask the foreign minister a Parliamentary Question. Noting that the agreement seemingly represents an attempt to negatively affect Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and its holy shrines, his two queries were: 1) What is Israel’s official stand regarding the agreement? And 2) Why does Israel not declare publicly and firmly that it rejects this injurious attempt?

The answer came a month later from then deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin, and it reads:

“1. The setting of Jordan’s position complies with Israel’s outlook and contributes to the distancing of undesired elements, including Qatar and other Arab Muslim countries.

2. The Jordanian recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in east Jerusalem is not new but has been reestablished by this agreement.

3. The agreement does comply with the terms of the special status awarded to Jordan concerning the holy sites to Islam according to the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, 9 (2), and therefore restricts the Palestinian aspirations, symbolically and administratively, on the Temple Mount.”

This is an irrational approach, injurious to Israel’s interests. I can imagine King Abdullah singing Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s song, “Two Banks Has The Jordan.”

The Temple Mount is a national site, of religious, cultural and historic importance.

Its intrinsic Jewish value is immeasurable. We still fast over it being besieged and its destructions. With all the difficulties, the state must resolve the absurdity of the situation whereby a Jew is the second-class citizen at this so very Jewish place.


The author is secretary of El Har Hashem, an advocacy group for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and a member of the Coordinating Council of the Temple Mount Organizations.


December 12, 2013

MEDIA COMMENT: The ignorant fear of haredim

Posted in Media at 2:52 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The ignorant fear of haredim


Hatred, fear and self-righteous hypocrisy make for a recipe of media bias of the worst kind.

Many in the Israeli media, it appears, are afraid of haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews. Some of them even consider the “haredi problem” an existential threat. This past week brought with it two examples of such fear.

The first was provided by Razi Barkai, the left-wing anchor of the army radio station’s daily Galatz program, Ma Boer (What’s Burning). He thought it correct to draw a parallel between singer Eyal Golan, suspected for sexual misconduct, and the late Rabbi Ovadia Yossef. On December 3 in an interview published in the Globes newspaper, he proclaimed, “I see no difference between Eyal Golan’s public and the congregation of believers in Ovadia Yossef.”

Miki Haimovitz provided the second example. She inaugurated Reshet’s new investigative documentary series HaMa’arechet (The System) on Channel 2 TV last Thursday. The original promo for the title of the program was “The Haredi Invasion.” A public outcry of haredi politicians led to a change in the title.

Haimovitz’s program dealt with the housing crisis within the haredi population and its effects on Israeli society. The program claimed that the government authorities responsible are not planning appropriately for this phenomenon. As a result, it is not surprising that haredim find no alternative but to leave their population centers and enter secular neighborhoods.

The message is elitist at best and discriminatory at worst. Don’t we live in a free society where anyone, Jewish, Arab, haredi or secular, an choose freely where to live? The program was marred in many other, perhaps more minor but still significant aspects. The terminology used was of war, tension and conflict. The narrative accentuated all that differentiates the haredi from the Israeli. As usual, the extremists from both sides provided the color.

Haimovitz cannot be faulted for remaining true to fact. She showed one woman bemoaning the fact that her apartment was in a building with a synagogue. The Arad Municipality noted that the synagogue existed when the woman bought her property.

However, there was also an element of “if facts don’t exist, create them.” The producers attempted to create a provocation by sending a scantily-clothed woman to the haredi area in Beit Shemesh.

All in all, Haimovitz’s “investigative report” was rather banal and worthless. But the damage was done; the haredi was again stereotyped as aggressively colonialist. Public figures within the haredi community sensed that the report was slanted and no meaningful haredi figure took part in it.

Haimovitz and Reshet are not the only performers in this act. Channel 10 initiated a series of reports titled “Government by the Rabbi,” playing on the Hebrew “Government by majority” by replacing the Hebrew word “rov” – majority – with “rav” – rabbi. The reporter, Avishai Ben-Chaim, tries to bring home the fear that the population explosion within the haredi community will turn the secular segment of Israel’s population into a minority by the year 2030.

The implications were no more mixed swimming but stringent Shabbat and kashrut observance for everyone.

Photos of a third-grade haredi teacher who was interviewed for the program are all shot with the reporter Ben-Chaim behind bars, as if in a jail, looking outside toward the free haredi world.

The Nana website provides this description of the series: “This is undoubtedly one of the sensitive issues within Israeli society. But surprisingly, the haredi leadership is not aware of it… they simply are not yet ready for this moment.”

The haredi obsession does not end here. A year and a half ago, Amnon Levy tried educating us in a Channel 10 docu-series titled “Haredim.” As described by haredi Nehemya Rosenfeld in an article in Ynet, the series relates to the haredi world as a sect with strange customs, as if it lives in a separate nature preserve. The narrative is reminiscent of documentary series on African jungle tribes.

But one should not underestimate the impact of this genre of sensationalism. The three chapters received an average rating of 16.4%, more than any other documentary series aired on Channel 10.

The haredi community is not only the object of tendentious pseudo-documentaries. Most news relating to the community is negative. The media allows itself to disregard elementary ethical obligations when dealing with the community. It was less than a year ago that Galatz’s police reporter, Hadass Steiff, came out with a bombshell – rape in a haredi town whose perpetrators are known, but who are being protected by the haredi leadership of the town. For three long days, the haredi community found itself under constant attack. The truth was that no rape occurred. The falsehood had been spread by a mentally disturbed person.

Did someone apologize? Did anyone realize the damage done to the haredi community, irrespective of the facts? Provoking haredim has become an accepted practice.

Last July, Channel 10 reporter Doron Herman disguised himself (illegally, we must add) as an army soldier and strolled in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, hoping to provoke an incident. He did not succeed and his ruse was exposed. But even the ombudsman of the Second Authority for TV and Radio, David Regev, as well as Dr. Ilan Avisar, chair of the SA TR, defended the reporter.

Two weeks ago, Avishai Ben-Chaim also exposed on Channel 10 an IDF lieutenant-colonel, Nurit Lamay, who stated in an answer to a phone call, “I get a rash from the haredim, I hate haredim, I want all haredim to die.” Knesset Member Aryeh Deri demanded that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon force the resignation of the officer, but to the best of our knowledge, nothing has happened. One can only imagine the reaction if the word “haredim” would have replaced by “Arabs.”

Recently, there has been an attempt to balance out this irrational reaction to the haredi world. Two current television dramas, Shtissel and Mekimi, do not position themselves as emotionally critical but rather seek to present the haredi community as it is. But this does not dispel the media’s extreme responses to the haredi community.

Why? Fear of the other, the different, seems to be a major factor. But media bias also stems from a form of hatred which is prevalent among a class of people who claim for themselves the sobriquets of “liberal,” “humanist,” “progressive” and what-not.

In the past, we referred to the exceptional outburst of Gabi Gazit in April 2010 when he broadcast that haredim are “leeches,” “parasites” and “worms.” He said, “They are useless, they don’t produce anything, don’t contribute anything, they don’t plant a tree or a tomato, don’t manufacture hi-tech… I would pack them up in one package and send them to their primitive brothers in the dark courtyards of Brooklyn, Queens and all the other places they should live in.” Other media broadcasters have uttered similar spiteful remarks, which haredi media monitoring groups have stored.

This long litany from the left-wing clique in the media, the camp that berates the right-of-center for its inability, supposedly, to deal fairly with the “other,” reveals another element: hypocrisy.

Indeed, hatred, fear and self-righteous hypocrisy make for a recipe of media bias of the worst kind.


December 5, 2013

MEDIA COMMENT: Yes, there is left-wing media bias

Posted in Media tagged , , at 1:51 pm by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: Yes, there is left-wing media bias


The extreme Left is often described as “peace activists,” but it is invariably “Jewish extremists” when considering the Right.

In an op-ed rant published in Haaretz on November 24 entitled “This extreme left-wing state,” Gideon Levy angrily asserted that Israel’s “true left has disappeared” and that “Israeli society is becoming more and more right-wing and nationalistic.”

One of his “proofs” was his claim that Israel’s media is not leftist.

Levy considers it rightist. It collaborates with the occupation, adopting “the language of the occupation and all the false versions of its instigators. It represses, deceives, hides, evades and denies,” he writes. Moreover, its quality is all wrong for it “provides mostly nonsense and entertainment, abuses its position, dumbs things down and blinds.”

He then makes an astonishingly Orwellian statement: “this is the way of the Right: To falsely tag people, to extort, threaten, intimidate and afterward to reap the harvest.”

Many dozens of our articles in this paper, in addition to other monitoring groups, put the lie to Levy’s skewed vision. His newspaper is engaged in a crusade against the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria; a strong defense policy; and a proud statement of Jewish religion and culture. This bias dominates both its views as well as the news. The bias starts at home, Mr. Levy.

A former Haaretz editor, David Landau, admitted the paper would restrain itself from over-investigating and over-reporting any of Ariel Sharon’s peccadilloes so as not to interfere with his disengagement project from Gaza. Its reporters have been proven irresponsible with their coverage and fined by the courts. Haaretz’s English-language edition has been accused of numerous errors of translation and fact stemming not from carelessness but from overzealousness to promote a political agenda. These include biased terminology, mistranslations, incomplete facts and omission of information.

For example, on October 14, as noted by the Presspectiva website, Haaretz ran an article titled: “West Bank village inhabited for 3,000 years faces eviction,” referring to the village of Sanuta whose inhabitants are illegally perched on an archaeological site. The Palestinian inhabitants have not been there 3,000 years. They haven’t even been there for 50 years.

Last year it was Gideon Levy himself who had to retract his false accusations, based on a misrepresentation of statistics, that Israel is an apartheid state.

It was Haaretz reporter Amy Klein who suggested falsely that singer Rihanna, performing in Israel, replaced the lyrics “All I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs” with “All I see is Palestine.”

Haaretz is the main offender in this regard, but Yediot Aharonot, its Ynet news site, the Walla website, other mainstream news outlets as well as the three television channels, 1, 2 and 10, as well as Kol Yisrael and Galatz radio have all committed similar “errors” in the past, invariably biased toward a leftist agenda. If there is a right-wing media, it is sectorial.

A critic of what he perceives as left-wing bias in the American media, Warner T. Huston suggests that the media sees itself as becoming “a profession increasingly assuming a national and ideological agenda.” Some of his American examples echo elements we recognize in Israel, which confirm the label of “leftist.”

These include employing phrases such as “violent rhetoric” or “climate of violence” as a scare tactic.

The extreme Left is often described as “peace activists,” but it is invariably “Jewish extremists” when considering the Right.

Relatively minor incidents are magnified disproportionately when they involve the Right.

Reporting on certain social protests that figure high on the left-wing agenda, even when violent, become “suffused with a touch of sweetness” by the media.

Thanks to media over-exposure it is only left-wing journalists who become our oracles, and we think of Ari Shavit, who appears with no counter-balance as the commentator on IBA’s Friday night digest of the weekly program, Yoman Hashavua. His “wisdom” is then magnified by other wise men such as Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. Consider the overwhelming majority of moderators of the discussion programs on television and radio: Yael Dan, Amnon Avramovitz, Moshe Negbi, Natan Zehavi, Rino Tzror, Tal Lipkin-Shahak, Aryeh Golan, Keren Neubach, Razi Barkai, Micha Friedman and more, all of whom express left-ofcenter to far-left viewpoints. Left-wing think tanks, like the Israel Democracy Institute, or advocacy groups like B’Tselem, are routinely referred to in a neutral manner whereas a group like Regavim or the Zionist Institute of National Strategies are always termed right-wing.

The charge of bias is not unique to Israel. In England last August, a report produced by the Centre for Policy Studies found that the BBC is biased toward the Left; it is twice as likely to cover left-wing policy proposals. Left-wing think tank reports are termed “independent” while right-wing research is identified ideologically. Left-of-center bias is expressed in “both the amount of coverage it gives to different opinions and the way in which these voices are represented.”

There is a second level of media bias bothering Uri Misgav, who published his criticism of the cultural “criminalism” he sees in Israel’s commercial television programming on November 22 in Levy’s own newspaper, Haaretz: “Channel 2 is celebrating… [t]wenty years of public and cultural degradation and erosion… [and] a clone channel [10] has flowered in its shadow. The dam has burst and both channels have begun sullying their professional evening news programs…. The public is exposed to every ill wind. Twenty years of corruption, brutalization and pandering to the lowest standards…”

What we face is not only political- ideological bias. Politically the agenda over-emphasizes left-of-center issues, analysis and punditry.

At the same time in the cultural sphere, we are being dumbed down. The media is targeting our minds and numbing them, desensitizing them.

Last week, singer Arik Einstein died. Without detracting from his personality and cultural contributions to Israeli society, one cannot escape the fact that his death was used by the media to define what they believe is “the ultimate Israeli,” spinning it to the Left. These lines from his song “My Little Journalist” are quite a fitting epitaph to Levy’s tirades:

“They write in the papers / What they want / Twisting, dirtying / Without mercy / Into the beds they go / They peek through holes / And there’s nothing to be done / No mercy here…. They kill using words / They fooling with a soul / ‘Where to?’ I ask / The love has gone.”

Perhaps what really bothers Levy is that the Israeli public is no longer willing to accept a leftwing- biased media. Perhaps too, nowadays he can no longer get away with his perversions without immediate exposure.

Whatever the case, we prefer Gideon Levy complaining than Gideon Levy complacent.