July 31, 2014

MEDIA COMMENT: Where’s the meat?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:12 pm by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: Where’s the meat?


As we know, since our own media repeats this many times a day, the reported casualty count has surpassed the 1,000 mark.

In a recent article, entitled “How selective body counts incite more violence,” Professor Alan Dershowitz relates to the casualty count in Gaza. The article, published in this newspaper on July 23, argues that “The media has obsessively counted every dead body in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. They rarely explain why so many more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed: Hamas does not allow Palestinian civilians into their shelters, while using civilian areas from which to fire their rockets; Israel, on the other hand, devotes its resources to building shelters and Iron Dome protection.”

As we know, since our own media repeats this many times a day, the reported casualty count has surpassed the 1,000 mark. It should be noted that the only source of information with respect to body counts comes from Hamas and Hamas-supervised NGOs. Every announcement should have thus been qualified with the phrase “according to local Hamas sources” or “as per NGO estimates.”

Let’s ask some questions which our media does not. If indeed there were 117 bodies recovered over the past weekend in the ruins in Gaza, where were the pictures? Hamas avidly publicizes gruesome pictures, but in this case for some obscure reason did not provide much proof as to the number of victims.

Our reporters take pains to interview “residents” of the Gaza strip to portray to the Israeli public the terrible destruction that the IDF has inflicted. Why don’t they interview some of the foreign reporters and ask them tough questions, such as “have you seen bodies in the rubble?” Or, “Are you free to move around in the Strip or do you go only where your Hamas-appointed stringers point you?” Then there are the disparities in the reported casualty figures. For example, according to Al Jazeera, as of late afternoon on July 24, 627 casualties had been reported. A second website, The International Middle East Media Center, reported as of mid-afternoon on July 28 865 casualties.

However, when one tallies up the list of names of those reportedly killed up to July 24 according to the IMEMC site, the number is 765. The difference between their report and that of Al Jazeera is 138. We did not undertake a full comparison, but for example, IMEMC reports the death of Ahmad Suleiman Abu Saoud, 34, from Khan Younis on July 21, while the same name does not appear on the Al Jazeera list. In another example, IMEMC has 184 casualties from Khan Younis for the period until the end of July 23 while Al Jazeera reports 112 for the same period.

Both websites cite the Gazan health ministry, so who should we believe? Why does our media treat this data as reliable? But this is not the end of the story.

The Israellycool blog analyses the age and sex of those reportedly killed.

Using the Al Jazeera data published until July 23, of 535 casualties, one finds that 78 percent are male and 22% female. 44% of the males are in the 18-28 age group, meaning one may assume that the majority of these were members of Hamas militias. In other words, the number of innocent civilians killed is much smaller than the sum total. Certainly, every person killed is a tragedy, but with an enemy who makes callous use of people and their lives, we here in Israel should be doing the simple job of adding one and one and finding out that in Hamastan they add up to three.

We have been in touch with some senior people within the media establishment, urging them to have their reporters undertake a serious study of the Hamas propaganda. Yet not much has materialized. Our media is either incompetent, lazy or worse, willingly an accomplice to Hamas misinformation.

The body count is only the tip of the iceberg of information either suppressed or manipulated by our media.

Consider a much more minor but still meaningful example: Last Saturday night, extreme Israeli left-wingers held a demonstration against the war.

Of course, this was not the description used. Some media outlets called them peace activists and some related to them simply as members of the Israeli Left. But how many were there? Haaretz reported 7,000, NRG 2,500, Walla 3,000, Ynet 5,000. Channel 10 accepted the 5,000 figure but its reporter defined it as “large.” As usual the tough questions were not asked, for example, who funded this rally? On Channel 1, just before midnight on July 25, advocate Gaby Lasky was identified for viewers as “a legal expert on human rights.” Lasky, in fact, was the former chairperson of Peace Now and a leading Meretz party politician. Why was this information suppressed? However, a woman representing a group called “Warm House for Soldiers” was interviewed by Dov Gilhar on Monday midday on Channel 10 TV. When she began to speak strongly against the unnecessary endangering of Israeli lives due to considerations for the safety of Gaza residents, she was asked if she represented a party and her airtime was cut short.

Kol Yisrael’s Keren Neubach, in addition to continuing to assemble imbalanced discussion panels, uses Twitter, as many journalists do. She tweeted on Monday, July 28, that the diplomatic maneuvering between the United States and Israel over the exact version of the cease-fire offer was “childish.”

On Sunday evening on Channel 1 TV, Liat Raviv Regev, referring to the deaths of soldiers, asked national camp advocate and journalist Israel Harel about this “heavy price.” Harel quickly upbraided her, noting that it was unnecessary to employ such an adjective. In the first place, the task of soldiers is to protect Israel and its citizens.

Soldiers know and are prepared for the ultimate sacrifice.

In a similar discussion the previous week with Oded Shachar, also on Channel 1, Hebrew University’s Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash also lashed out against the media’s treatment of this subject, saying that in the past decade or so, the media discourse is that the public must protect the soldier, at almost any cost (as in the Schalit case) and that this is just the reverse of what the atmosphere should be. But these are voices in the wilderness and just point out how much our public discourse has become mutilated.

The Israeli media demanded that the IDF undertake a thorough reckoning in the wake of some of the disasters of the Second Lebanon war, and rightly so. Sadly though, the same media did not do the same.

During that war the Hezbollah and Pallywood film production industry went into overdrive. Yet their imaginative constructs – which caused serious damage to Israel’s international image –were discovered by bloggers and people abroad, not our media.

Our media swallowed these fabrications hook, line and sinker. Have they learned anything? Seemingly no, for even Professor Alan Dershowitz does not dare question the actual body count.


July 25, 2014

MEDIA COMMENT: Manipulating foreign media reports to focus on anti-Israelism

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:17 am by yisraelmedad

Media comment: Manipulating foreign media reports to focus on anti-Israelism


The news from abroad covered in Channel 2’s central evening news edition was exclusively devoted to anti-Israel events.

Operation Protective Edge is entering its third week. With only a limited stream of reliable information from Gaza reaching the public, the media finds itself situated at a crucial nexus. Network commentators and guest experts are becoming more familiar, their prejudices and weaknesses, their strengths and biases more apparent and the good and the bad of their journalistic endeavors more obviously recognizable.

Journalists, writes Mark Coddington of the University of Texas, “cast themselves fundamentally as sense-makers rather than information- gatherers.” In reviewing the many television and radio broadcasts during the current operation, we have noticed several paradigms that should be brought to the attention of the media consumer.

Given that this is the third round of military activity since the 2005 Gaza disengagement plan – which was promoted, praised and protected by the media – it was disappointing to hear very little self-criticism from the media.

An egregious example of a journalist’s shifting attention from the real problem was Amos Harel’s July 17 column in Haaretz where he asserted that the “IDF fears that, without Hamas, Gaza could descend into a Somalia-like situation, in which dozens of gangs or clans would take over various parts of the strip.” As it is, Gaza has for decades already divided into clans and tribes; it is the political-theological ideology of Hamas that is the more potent danger for Israel.

It is also discouraging that certain inconvenient elements are glossed over. For example, we were all told that the rocket fire from Gaza increased as a result of the IDF search for the three kidnapped youngsters and the arrests of Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria. The simple fact is that ever since April the number of rocket and mortars fired toward Israel had been increasing steadily. Incidentally, these launchings also kill and injure Gaza residents, which should have been part of the commentary to reports on the high numbers of casualties being claimed by Hamas.

Another element is the content the media conveys from abroad. Given Israel’s special diplomatic considerations, support from the major and even minor powers is important and a factor in Israel’s ability to continue the military actions needed to provide long-term security for the country and its citizens. As we wrote in last week’s column, our media should present truthfully how we are perceived in the eyes of the world. We found then that television Channel 2’s Arad Nir was wanting in this respect, which continues to be the case.

Nir is the chief foreign news editor for the station.

Our review indicates that he is extremely selective in his editorial decisions regarding what to show us, what not to show us and in his analysis of what is happening around the world. In fact, we have found that he is engaged in minimizing our perception of what is happening.

For example, on July 10, he discusses a major pro-Israel demonstration in New York, but accompanies the report with no visuals.

On July 13, only one out of several pro-Israel demonstrations is mentioned. On July 11, anti-Israel rallies were extensively covered. On July 17, even an anti-Israel rally in Cracow, Poland, a city not very important for Israel’s diplomatic position, was reported.

In fact, for three straight days, July 16-18, Nir made sure that the news from abroad covered in Channel 2’s central evening news edition was exclusively devoted to anti-Israel events. At the same time there was ample evidence that Israel had significant support from major newspapers, columnists and television stars, including the progressive liberal Bill Maher. Such support is arguably of much greater significance than demonstrations by Muslims or extreme left-wing radicals. Indeed, the anti-Jewish violence in Paris and Los Angeles had more significant ramifications for the local communities than for Israel.

Nir’s unprofessional judgment is actually not surprising. He maintains a Twitter account and there one can find the retweeting of blatantly anti-Semitic caricatures, notably those of Carlos Latuff. Many of the tweets are without any comment, as if Nir is completely neutral regarding their news value or worse, allowing people to think he might sympathize with their contents. He also retweets anti-Netanyahu cartoons such as one by Haaretz’s Amos Biderman on July 14 portraying the prime minister as the Major Kong character in the Dr. Strangelove film without comment, even though the original tweeter wrote, “there’s only one Biderman.”

CNN’s Diane Magnay was sent packing to Moscow after calling some Israelis “scum” on her Twitter feed. If he had been employed by CNN, Nir would have been fired over his conduct, but our media lets him continue his unprofessional acts, in the name of “freedom of speech.”

On July 13, he retweeted a claim that 77 percent of Gaza victims are civilians, again without any evaluative element. His only source for this statistic is Hamas, and we all know how reliable Hamas’s information is. To simply repeat this statistic is irresponsible journalism – unless one is actually interested in promoting and magnifying Hamas propaganda. On July 16, Nir wrote, “Hamas offers conditional ceasefire for 10 years. If genuine should be checked as a starter for long-term agreement.” Is it professional for a news editor to give advice to the political echelon or to critically report on their activities? Another item Nir decided should not be brought to the attention of Channel 10’s viewers was the July 3 passing, in the Dutch parliament, of a motion calling for an end to the salaries that the Palestinian Authority pays to terrorists. The motion passed unanimously.

It read, in part, “…since 2011, the Palestinian Authority transfers money to Palestinian convicts in Israeli prisons [and] that these moneys can have a negative effect, in which criminality and terrorism are rewarded.”

A European country, a member of the inimical EU and with a sizeable Muslim population to boot, adopts a very pro-Israel stand. That is not a worthy news item? Kalman Liebskind, writing a fortnight ago in Ma’ariv, termed this type of media practice as a form of “occupation of thinking” which is dictated to lower-level employees by centrally-positioned persons with editorial responsibility.

Nir is not alone. Kol Yisrael also uses statistics provided by Hamas as to the number of Gazan casualties. We asked one of Kol Yisrael’s editors why they do this. The laconic answer was that since the IDF spokesperson does not provide the numbers, there is no choice but to mention Hamas figures, while noting that the source of the information is Gaza.

Such an attitude is no better than that of CNN or other outlets with crews in Gaza which bring to the world the misery of the Gazans without a word about who is really responsible.

Tuesday’s The Marker reports that the expanded format of the news broadcasting of channels 2 and 10, with multiple on-scene reporters, endless hours of studio screen-time, Live-U technology, satellite time and such is estimated to cost NIS 600,000 per day per network.

It is a shame that too much of this money is being wasted on poor journalism that, in the end, does not serve the public. Even the reality shows are a better investment.


July 17, 2014

MEDIA COMMENT: Servicing Hamas

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:23 am by yisraelmedad

Media comment: Servicing Hamas


One of the duties of our media is to present truthfully how we are perceived in the eyes of the world.

A professional media network is challenged during times of war. It is not easy to get hard facts. Both sides will invariably attempt to assure the media coverage they want, and not necessarily the truth. During the past few days, the BBC exposed how Hamas manipulated old pictures from Syria and Iraq, presenting as images of the present round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. A reporter on the scene, hearing a siren or a rocket and having to take cover himself, is hard pressed to let his audience know what really happened.

Any war is not only determined by the military results but also how they are perceived. One of the duties of our media is to present truthfully how we are perceived in the eyes of the world. This often entails broadcasting video clips from foreign news outlets, such as CNN’s Ben Wedeman showing the damage inflicted on Gaza by our bombing.

The same holds true for a clip aired by TV Channel 2’s Arad Nir on Sunday night in which CNN reported that Israel had hit a Gaza infirmary for handicapped people which, so the story goes, could not be evacuated on time.

However, in both these cases, the Israeli media did not handle the material professionally; Wedeman could not have gotten such a report without “help” from Hamas. In 2003, Jordan Eason confessed that CNN chose not to report on the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein’s regime as the truth “would have jeopardized… lives.” Previously, in his 1989 memoir From Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman wrote that “physical intimidation” was a major impediment to honest reporting from PLO-dominated Beirut. But TV Channel 1 dared not challenge Wedeman on this issue.

Similarly, Nir, who stressed that Israel tries to prevent such occurrences, did not include an IDF response to the video. Nor did he note that apart from damage, the clip did not actually show that any of the patients had been harmed.

But these are relatively minor issues. The real story this week is how Channel 2 and Channel 10 covered the Hamas side of the story. The most egregious case, widely publicized, was the appearance of Likud MK Yariv Levin on Channel 10 last Friday. He was invited to participate in an hourlong broadcast to share his views on the situation.

The channel naturally brought in other interviewees.

The first, to “balance” Levin, was Ran Cohen (not the former Meretz MK), the executive director of the Israel branch of “Physicians for Human Rights” (PHR).

PHR’s anti-Israel positions are well known. It blames Israel for the recent war, in its words: “Years of intensifying control and closure of Gaza on the one hand and the absence of activity to promote a just solution and end to the occupation on the other hand is leading us into the abyss, fanning the flames of hatred and revenge.”

Its Israeli tax-free status was revoked recently in view of its political activities.

The moderator noted that Israel allowed 130 trucks to enter the Gaza strip . Cohen claimed that only 13 supply trucks entered, five with medical supplies. He then claimed that the medical situation in Gaza is terrible. Not due to the present war but a result of the Israeli blockade on Gaza since 2007.

At this point, MK Levin, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, accused Cohen of outright lying. For the next few minutes, Levin did not let Cohen talk. He was outraged by the fact that Channel 10 would countenance what according to him were outright falsifications and blatant lies. Levin claimed on his Facebook that after a commercial break, he was not allowed to return to the program. Cohen, however, was allowed to continue his diatribe, this time uninterrupted.

Channel 10 didn’t stop there, either. The next day on the London and Kirschenbaum program they invited a representative from Gisha, Iman Gabor, head of its research department, ostensibly to obtain a deeper understanding of the economic situation within the Gaza strip. Gabor was allowed, without interruption, to lay the blame for the poverty in Gaza on Israel and its blockade since 2007.

Gisha is a European Union and New Israel Fund organization which testified for the Goldstone commission. It sees its mission as, among other things, safeguarding the transfer of supplies to and from the Gaza strip.

Another source of information for our media is interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip. On July 12, Channel 2, in its weekly news roundup, interviewed Sunny Obeid, a Gazan journalist who accused the IDF of deliberately targeting civilians.

On July 13, Oded Ben-Ami on his Channel 2 program interviewed “Ahmed,” who described the difficult situation within the strip. On July 12, Nadav Peri of Channel 10 news interviewed a Gazan resident.

UNRWA officials have also been interviewed by all major Israeli outlets. For example, the UNRWA official interviewed on Channel 10 on July 13, who described the inability of his organization to help. UNRWA, according to him, just does not have the means to help all those who need it.

These interviews are typically bland, containing very little actual information.

It could be different. As reported by Yossi Melman of Ma’ariv, on July 11, he, together with former ambassador Danny Ayalon, were interviewed on the i24 news channel. At one point, a Gazan journalist was added to the discussion. Upon being asked what the situation is in Gaza, he launched into a vicious attack on the Israeli government, which he claimed is targeting civilians.

The moderator, Lucy Aharish, an Israeli Arab, challenged the Gazan’s claims. She then asked the Gazan why the citizens of Gaza are not coming out in droves, demonstrating against the Hamas government. As Melman reported, he has never heard a moderator on Israeli TV channels asking the same questions.

Another “star” is Haaretz’s Gideon Levy. In a July 13 op-ed, he wrote that “Israel’s real purpose in the Gaza operation is to kill Arabs… the Israel Defense Forces already has a ‘map of pain,’ a diabolical invention…. Since the first Lebanon war, more than 30 years ago, the killing of Arabs has become Israel’s primary strategic instrument. The IDF doesn’t wage war against armies, and its main target is civilian populations.”

Channel 2, naturally, invited him to present his views on air. This was done on the street in Ashkelon.

A passerby noted what was happening and simply prevented Levy from talking. After a few minutes, the anchor gave in and the interview did not take place. Of course, later Channel 2 did interview Levy, in spite of heated objections from the public. Channel 2 did not interview, say, Baruch Marzel to balance the extremist Levy.

To be fair, the war has been ongoing for over a week, and the media has to fill air-time. Many people have been interviewed, including representatives of Yesha and other right-wing organizations.

But, as especially evidenced in the Gideon Levy affair, many in the public are incensed.

Hamas, according to some, could not have asked for a better ally.


July 9, 2014

MEDIA COMMENT: The mistreatment of Minister Gideon Sa’ar

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:58 pm by yisraelmedad

Media comment: The mistreatment of Minister Gideon Sa’ar


There is a real dilemma here. On the one hand, the more business there is the lower the prices, and everyone gains.

Gideon Sa’ar is our interior minister.

As such, he is responsible for overseeing the Hours of Work and Rest Law, 1951. One aspect of the Jewish nature of the state is that its holidays are defined by the Jewish tradition. The Jewish festivals are recognized as holidays; schools and businesses are closed and people do not need to go to work. The weekly day of rest is Saturday.

For many years, in all of the Western World, Sunday was considered holy. Even today, in many European countries businesses are closed on this day. Especially in the United States, it was recognized that from a business point of view this absolute rest was wasteful. Since most people do not work, they have time to go shopping. As Ecclesiastes has stressed, money will answer everything, so the Americans relaxed the regulations.

Today, in the US you can go shopping everywhere on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many European countries followed the American example. Even in socially conservative countries such as Switzerland, numerous shops and stores are open on Sunday, especially in the heavily visited tourist areas.

There is a real dilemma here. On the one hand, the more business there is the lower the prices, and everyone gains. Many people do not have the time to take care of their household affairs during the week. It is during their leisure time that they can take a stroll in a shopping center, look at products, sip a cup of coffee, have the kids play in the shopping center playground and do the weekly shopping.

If that’s the good, what is the bad? As stressed often by Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, opening businesses on the day of rest is anti-social. Who are the people behind the counters, who are the waiters? Typically, they are not wealthy. They go to work on days of rest because they need the added income. What do their children do when their parents must work? Even if these same employees have a different day of rest during the week, as mandated by law in most countries, their family life is harmed. The children still have to go to school.

Shopkeepers are also affected. If some shops are open, then anyone who closes shop is under financial pressure. Either they lose clients or they have to work on the day of rest, harming their family life. The independent shopkeeper does not have even a day of rest during the week.

In Israel, this question also takes on a religious-historic aspect. One of the most difficult challenges to observant Jews over the millennia was the need to keep their businesses closed on Shabbat. In most places, up until the 20th century Shabbat was like any other day and only Sunday was the day of rest. So Jews had to close their shops two days a week and still survive.

One of the stated goals of Zionism was that a Jew would be able to live in the Jewish state without having to pay a price for the observance of Jewish tradition. For the Zionist founders of the state, it was obvious that this implied that Shabbat would be the day of rest, on which all businesses are closed.

But ideals and reality don’t always go together. The secular kibbutzim realized that they could legally open shopping centers on their land. This led to the creation of shopping centers all over Israel that are outside municipal borders, so that now Shabbat shopping has become to many a way of life. This is so especially in the Tel Aviv area.

What about the shopkeepers who would prefer to stay closed? Tough luck. They have to get used to the new order. Money is more important than values.

For many years, the Tel Aviv Municipality played a game. It allowed convenience stores and supermarkets to open on Shabbat, at times levying ridiculously small fines, and everyone was happy. That is, until some shopkeepers who were unhappy with the Shabbat competition went to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that the municipality was acting illegally and ordered it to change the municipal law. This was promptly enacted, allowing in effect almost anyone to open shop on Shabbat. In Israel, though, the interior minister oversees the municipality, and two weeks ago Sa’ar decided that the new law showed disrespect for Shabbat and annulled it. He did leave allowances for businesses in certain specified areas to remain open, such as in the Tel Aviv Harbor area.

It is at this point where the media started playing a role. Did it give Sa’ar a fair shake at explaining his motives? Did it present both sides? Some did, some did not. The Israel Broadcasting Authority did a fair job. On the TV Channel 1 nightly news of June 29, the item was related and the views of those for and against aired. On the next day, this balance was repeated on Kol Yisrael’s evening news program.

Galatz was also reasonable, bringing to its morning news program Nachon Lehaboker opposing views, albeit two opposing Sa’ar’s decision and only one in favor.

The record for Channel 2 TV is mixed. The Reshet programs We talk about this and Today’s Talk aired on June 30 presented a balanced view.

Channel 2 News was unprofessional, to put it mildly. On June 29, Yonit Levy “interviewed” Minister Sa’ar.

Not only did she not let the minister talk, she tried to give the impression that Sa’ar’s decision was motivated purely by desire to curry favor among the religious sector. She did not relate to the fact that the whole issue had been raised in the first place by Tel Aviv shopkeepers with their appeal to the Supreme Court. Sa’ar was followed by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), both of whom (naturally) opposed Sa’ar’s decision. Levy did not interrupt them.

The worst of all, though, was Channel 10. It opened this segment of the June 29 news broadcast with “The interior Minister who has lately started to observe Shabbat.” The London and Kirshenbaum June 30 program had a picture of Sa’ar dressed up in a shtreimel and sporting peyot, and presented only one side of the issue, namely that stores should remain open. The Hakol Kalul June 30 program headlined its treatment of the issue with, “Did Minister Gideon Sa’ar order the closing of the supermarkets because he is becoming more observant?” The innuendo was that Sa’ar is politically motivated, and that his main interest is the next Likud primary.

The Economic Night June 29 program was one-sided in its vociferous stand against Minister Sa’ar’s decision.

So, what have we got? The public broadcaster – on the cutting block just at the moment – did its job; fair, decent and balanced coverage.

Channel 2 TV was, on the whole, slanted against Sa’ar, although it remained within acceptable bounds of fairness in its coverage. Channel 10 TV was, as usual, unethical and unprofessional. It is high time that this channel, which is in daily violation of the law, be closed down. Not only on Gideon Sa’ar’s account, but also on account of Israeli media consumers, who would be much better off if TV 10 disappeared from our screens.


July 7, 2014

ואיפה יוסף זוסמן?

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 am by yisraelmedad


אתם זוכרים את דבריה של האם רחל פרנקל, בהספדה על בנה הנרצח נפתלי?

“הבטחתם שתמצאו ותביאו אותם, והבאתם אותם. גם זה חסד גדול כבר היו דברים וזה לא מובן מאליו”.

 “כבר היו דברים”.

כל אחד וזכרונו הוא אבל הנה אחד שעדיין סופו לוט בסוד איומים:

יוסף זוסמן

הוא נולד בסטניסלבוב שבגליציה והיה סטודנט ומדריך בחוג של נוער ציוני בעירו. בשנת 1911 עלה לארץ-ישראל וכאן הצטרף למפלגת פועלי-ציון. הוא עבד בשמירה והיה בין הרועים הראשונים בארץ. כשומר נמנה עם הקבוצה שיצאה לחריש הראשון על אדמת מרחביה. על פי עדות חבריו היה “פועל מצויין, אדם טוב ובעל הומור וחביב על כולנו”.


בשנת 1914 היה בין השומרים שיצאו ליישוב אדמות קלנדיה (לימים עטרות) שליד ירושלים. לאחר שמירת לילה יצא ברגל לירושלים ועקבותיו נעלמו. חבריו חיפשוהו בכל סביבות ירושלים אך לא מצאוהו ונראה שנרצח וגופתו הוטמנה במערה.



July 3, 2014

MEDIA COMMENT: The (post-Zionist) Public Broadcasting Corporation

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:50 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The (post-Zionist) Public Broadcasting Corporation


Public broadcasting that denies its Israeli roots undermines two millennia of Jewish aspirations for a vibrant Jewish culture in our homeland.

One of Communications Minister Gilad Erdan’s (Likud) pet projects is the dissolution of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the abolishment of the TV tax and the creation of a Public Broadcasting Corporation, a new public entity which is to replace the IBA. Instead of the wasteful IBA and Educational TV, with their close to 2,000 employees, the new PBC will have at most 750 or so employees, and is to be run by competent management. Its NIS 700 million budget is to come from a variety of sources, mainly the car license tax and advertisements. The public broadcaster will not generate its own TV programs but is to outsource them. Israel’s post-Zionist film industry is already frothing at the mouth in anticipation of all the public money to be thrown at it.

The Knesset debate revolving around the proposed legislation is intense but lopsided.

Minister Erdan is steamrolling it through a special committee, which meets four times a week for hours without end, to make sure that all is done before the Knesset adjourns for its summer vacation. Erdan is demonstrating once again that Likudniks know how to use power for the sake of carrying out a post-Zionist agenda.

On the first day of the consideration of the specifics of the bill, one of us (EP) noted that the new entity is titled The Public Broadcasting Corporation and requested that one word be added and the name revised to The Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation. The minister did not agree and in the committee vote only four MKs supported the proposed change – Issawi Freij (Meretz), Nissim Ze’ev (Shas), Mickey Rosenthal (Labor) and Yoni Shetbon (Bayit Yehudi). Committee chairperson Karen Elharar (Yesh Atid) and three other coalition MKs voted against and so the amendment did not pass.

One wonders why. Almost all public broadcasters in the world are named after their country. The standard examples are the British Broadcasting Corporation, France Television, Germany’s ARD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) and ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen). Also in the Far East, for example in Japan, the main public broadcaster is the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK). Even tiny countries are proud enough to use their names; in Iceland, the public broadcaster is The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

Why is Minister Erdan so insistent that our Public Broadcasting Corporation remain anonymous? Well, one might say, what’s in a name? After all, the broadcaster is operating in Israel and in Hebrew. However, even this argument, as we shall see, is not precise.

The bill originally submitted to the Knesset was a piece of unadulterated post-Zionism.

Any mention of Zionism, Jewish heritage, the Hebrew language or Diaspora Jewry, all of which are part of the ethos underlying the IBA and part of the original 1965 IBA legislation, were cast out. Only the pressure of Minister Uri Orbach of Bayit Yehudi, who conditioned his support for the new legislation as a government- backed law, forced Erdan to soften up a bit. With the help of Bayit Yehudi MKs Yoni Shetbon and Ayelet Shaked, the present legislation does state in paragraph 7b that the “Public Broadcasting Corporation’s broadcasts will be independent, will be aimed at all citizens of the State of Israel and will reflect the Jewish democratic State of Israel, its values and its Jewish heritage.”

Compare this one sentence with the existing IBA law, which states that the IBA will “reflect life in Israel, the struggle for independence, and Israel’s achievements; the IBA will foster good citizenship and equality; it will strengthen the connection with Judaism and the Jewish heritage and will deepen knowledge in these spheres.” There’s much more in that vein. For example, the IBA is to “Promote Hebrew and Israeli creativity; foster knowledge of the Hebrew language and promote its use, taking into consideration the decisions of the National Academy for the Hebrew Language.”

The present version of the proposed PBC legislation, also inserted only after heated discussion – and a personal request from Dr.

Tali Ben-Yehuda, director-general of the academy – is: “The PBC will ‘promote and care for the Hebrew language.’” This is only the beginning. The new chair of the public broadcaster cannot be an intellectual; he/she must be a good business person.

This is the new ethos. Good management, competitiveness and high ratings. Education is mentioned only in passing with respect to youth, and only because the new law liquidates the educational television service. The understanding that the public broadcaster is arguably the most influential educator in Israel has obviously not reached Minister Erdan.

Another one of the casualties of the proposed law is the concept that Israel’s public broadcaster should serve as a bridge to the Diaspora. The readers of this article in The Jerusalem Post, many of whom are avid followers of the IBA’s news in English, should be concerned. One may expect that this will be one of the first victims of the new public broadcaster.

The proponents of the bill stress on every occasion that the new law will prevent any political interference with the public broadcaster’s operations. All appointments to the board of the new broadcaster will be made by a panel of three. Its head, a supreme or district court judge emeritus, is appointed by the minister.

But the other two co-panelists are appointed by the judge. This does not imply the de-politicization of the public broadcaster but rather assures that no matter what the Israeli public thinks, the public broadcaster will be ruled by an elitist minority. The broadcaster will be public in name only, while overtly political in practice, its politics dominated by a controlling minority.

Minister Uri Orbach has often stated that real change in the Israeli media can come about only if more Zionist-oriented people enter the profession. If the public broadcaster materializes according to Minister Erdan’s vision, there will be no place in it for Zionists.

Even if more people do want to enter the profession – and there are many such people – they will hit a wall, with the law justifying lack of recognition of Zionist-oriented programming.

We do not understand Minister Erdan. In the past, he has made very clear statements about the post-Zionist bias of the Israeli media, so why is he now creating such an entity? We call upon all those with the power to do so to please stop this lunacy. A post-Zionist Public Broadcasting Corporation which denies its Israeli roots is not merely a waste of the taxpayers’ money, it undermines two millennia of Jewish aspirations to establish a vibrant Jewish culture in our homeland.

This article was written prior to the sad news about the murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah. At this point in time we can only ask and pray that the Almighty will send his condolences to the bereaved families and that they will find consolation in Jerusalem.