November 26, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: The IBA loses one more

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:05 am by yisraelmedad


Media Comment: The IBA loses one more
Ayala Hasson-Nesher’s IBA departure leads to some very serious questions concerning whether the IBC will be able to attract quality people to its ranks.

It was but 15 months ago that Ayala Hasson-Nesher was appointed editor of the TV Channel 1 news department.

Hasson-Nesher is a 23-year veteran at the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

She started her career as the criminal affairs correspondent, afterwards being appointed a political reporter for Channel 1, and currently is the channel’s main political correspondent, the presenter of the weekend primetime Yoman news and current affairs magazine as well as host of political interview radio program Hakol Diburim (It’s All Talk) on Kol Yisrael’s Reshet Bet.

She is known for her sensational revelations on some of the biggest names in Israeli society. She came to the front of the journalist pack in 1997 when she claimed that the appointment of Roni Bar-On as attorney general was part of a deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas, whose ultimate goal was to prevent the incarceration of Arieh Deri. That story was fully backed by the IBA’s news editor Rafik Chalabi, who famously claimed that her report was “as solid as a ton of cement.” She almost brought about Netanyahu’s resignation, but he was saved by then attorney general and today Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein who decreed that there was nothing in the story which justified criminal proceedings.

A second scoop came in 2004 when Hasson-Nesher got hold of a recording of then MK Yossef Paritzky of the (now defunct) Shinui Party headed by Abraham Poraz. Paritzky was heard alluding to fabricating a case aimed at bringing the downfall of Poraz. In this case, too, the police file was closed without steps taken against any one of the people involved, although it certainly damaged the reputation of both Paritsky and Poraz.

In recent years, Hasson was one of the figures who revealed the difficult relations between former army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak.

Read more…



November 22, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: Eilat and the journalists

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:56 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Eilat and the journalists
The Eilat conference provides us with some concrete evidence of the extent of liberalism among journalists.
For the ninth time, the Tel Aviv Journalists Association convened this past week the Eilat Journalists Conference.

The meeting is big, bringing together hundreds of journalists, decision makers, NGOs, radio and TV producers for three days of meetings and deliberations. Arguably, it is the most influential media conference of the year, although this year only the Jerusalem Journalists Association was a joint sponsor, whereas in 2013, for example, the conference hosts included the Second Authority for TV and Radio, Channel 2 news and ACUM (Association of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel). In previous years, the event was televised live on Channel 2’s Mako website, but this year it was not.

As noted by IBA veteran newscaster Arieh Golan, the employees of the IBA were not backed by their colleagues on TV channels 2 and 10 during their struggle to stop the implementation of the new broadcasting law, which closes down the IBA and effectively implies that all of them will lose their jobs. We note that the employees of the IBA fully backed their colleagues at Channel 10 when it was threatened with closure, but this loyalty was not reciprocated. It would seem that the journalists simply can no longer get their act together. Solidarity is out while individualism is in.

One of the central events at the meeting is presenting an award for lifetime achievement.

This year, Sima Kadmon of Yediot Aharonot was honored. The choice is quite ludicrous as Kadmon is better known for her meanderings and wishful thinking than for factual reportage. Dr. Dror Eydar, a senior commentator for Israel Hayom noted bitingly: “Pay attention to the citation this year: ‘Ms. Kadmon was exceptional in her brilliant analysis of the elections and their results.’” What were these brilliant insights? Eydar helps us remember: “In the beginning of December [2014] when the election campaign started, she wrote that it looks even more promising for Evet Liberman who is becoming a realistic candidate for prime minister. He might even become a Prime Minister by rotation.” A week later she wrote, “If the trend which started during the Protective Edge operation continues, the Likud might even end with 15 Knesset seats and lose the leadership of the Right.” She also warned that Shas would disappear from the political scene. Suffice it to say that someone on the prize committee did not do their homework, or as noted by Eydar, had a really good sense of humor.

The prize to Kadmon is another indication of the extent of the disconnect from reality of too many of our journalists. It could not have been more evident than in the panel dealing with the future of public broadcasting (EP participated in this panel). One of the panelists was veteran TV anchor Haim Yavin who was also a recipient of the prize in 2008.

Yavin exhorted the anxious members of the IBA listening to the discussion to take steps, demonstrate and use their power to stop what he termed the destruction of public broadcasting in Israel. Yavin most certainly deserved to receive a prize for his lifelong efforts in extorting outrageously high salaries (reported at NIS 1 million per year in 2002 and 2003) for sitting in front of a microphone and abusing the public with his personal views. No other journalist succeeded in getting so much out of the public broadcaster. This has now stopped. Is this what he meant by the destruction of public broadcasting? Others on the panel also warned about the dire future. Understandably, Arieh Golan was concerned, but when asked what his vision was for public broadcasting he could only claim that he broadcasts to over 400,000 people daily on his morning radio program. He did not respond to the claim that the public had no choice since Kol Yisrael and the army radio station share a monopoly on national radio broadcasting.

We will put our reputation on the line and predict that within five years, this supremacy will no longer exist.

In this column, we have often related to our vision of a public broadcaster who puts the public interest in front of its own. It should be dominated by Zionism, a healthy respect for Jewish history and Jewish heritage.

None of these came to the fore in the Eilat conference. Disconnect, did we say? Journalists are notorious and proud of supporting democracy, equal rights, pluralism and such. The Eilat conference provides us with some concrete evidence of the extent of liberalism among journalists. IMW took the trouble of analyzing the makeup of the participants in the 22 panels. Only four had women moderators. Of 172 journalists who participated in the panels, 34 (less than 20 percent) were women. Gender equality? Only for others, it appears.

Pluralism? We identified 35 journalists as being left-wing and 23 as right-wing. But of the moderators, 13 were identifiably Left while none at all were Right. One wonders if ever the day will come when the organizer of this meeting is not Shalom Kittal but someone identified with Israel’s Right, for example Makor Rishon editor Hagai Segal.

One issue which was in the air but not discussed in depth was the question of the future of the army radio station Galatz.

Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot surprisingly announced last week, in the wake of discussion on the defense budget, that he thinks Galatz should be removed from the military as it cannot maintain its independence if it is a branch of government, and that there is no justification for spending NIS 20 million per year from the defense budget on it. And we add: especially since too many of the staff are civilians.

Many of us, who for years have noted that Galatz is not really needed, might have been joyful at the prospect, but hold your horses.

Eisenkot is far from the first chief of staff to demand disassociation from or dismantling of Galatz. Prime minister Ehud Barak did the same while he was IDF chief of staff but nothing developed and in fact, when he was prime minister the station continued to operate.

We suspect Eisenkot did not really mean for his decision to be implemented. Hopefully he’s not so naïve as to think he would be able to carry out such a policy. It could be that Eisenkot was merely using the Galatz issue to try to impress the public with what he considers to be the extreme budgetary constraints on the IDF. If the IDF cannot afford NIS 20m. for Galatz, how can it afford increased training, hardware and software? Unfortunately, we cannot identify the political will, in either the defense ministry or in the Prime Minister’s Office, to actually implement Eisenkot’s suggestion.

While other issues were raised at the conference, perhaps the best aspect was that the participants could take advantage of our great southern resort town.



November 12, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: Revising history

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:21 pm by yisraelmedad

// COMMENT: Revising history// //

Prime minister Menachem Begin came into power in 1977 on a platform which, among other items, supported especially the rights of the Mizrachi/Sephardi community, who were then the more poor and socially downtrodden segments of Israeli society. For 30 years, the socialist Labor party and its predecessor Mapai (The Workers’ Party) used their power to support the kibbutz movement and the Histadrut labor union which traditionally defended the rights of the economically stronger segments of employees such as those in the electric company and Israel’s ports. Labor was notorious for providing goodies to its supporters while “punishing” those who did not go along.

Begin’s Herut-Liberal party (Gahal), the predecessor of the Likud as we know it today, promised a new era, in which the excesses as well as shortcomings of the previous Mapai governments would be eliminated and the well-being of the general population would increase significantly. It is naturally of interest, three decades later, to assess the impact of Begin and his government on the Israeli economy.

This was one of the topics of a TV Channel 8 series called The Silver Platter, recalling Natan Alterman’s famous poem, produced by Messrs. Doron Tsabari and Amir Ben-David.

Ben-David is among other things a journalist and film producer, but in the present context he is the economics editor of the i24 TV channel.

Tsabari is a film producer who was in the past the chairperson of the Israeli Association of Film Producers. He is a member of the board of the New Israel Fund, served as a member of the board of the IBA and struggled successfully to turn the public broadcaster into a source of funding for Israeli film producers.

The third chapter in the series starred Professor Daniel Gutwein of Haifa University, a known extreme left-wing “historian” whose adherence to facts is arguably guided by post-modern relativism, i.e., there is no truth, only “narratives,” and there is thus no need to either attempt to stick to facts or to provide audiences with the “other” narrative. Gutwein defines himself as a social democrat, founded Yesod and opposes the privatization of governmental assets.

He sees the settlements in Judea and Samaria as the main recipients of governmental socialist support at the expense of Israeli society west of the Green Line. He supported MK Shelly Yacimovich, an outspoken socialist, as well as Meretz MK Ilan Gillon.

Gutwein and Tsabari, in a well prepared film, describe the Begin era as one which led to increased poverty, extreme inflation, expensive loans, reduction of government subsidies, a collapse of the stock market and the failure of the Israeli banking system.

Moshe Fuksman-Sha’al, assistant executive director of the Begin Center, was incensed. He claimed, in an op-ed published in Globes, that “behind the colorful graphics, data presented out of economic context, archival material relevant to a specific historical situation, half-truths and erasure of any fact that would cast doubt on his personal beliefs, Gutwein presented a false narrative that is not connected to reality.”

Fuksman further noted that one of Begin’s most important social contributions was “Operation Renewal,” a program through which the Begin governments invested over a billion US dollars to improve the lot of poor Israelis significantly, reducing the density of people per room in the problematic neighborhoods from 1.9 to 1.2. He also noted that legislation assuring free high school education and minimum income were not mentioned.

We would add two central events in the background that contributed to the economic failures that did occur during the Begin era. One was the rampant inflation in the US, the other was the removal of governmental support for Labor Party structures, which then collapsed. The narrative of Gutwein was that Begin did not really care much for the lower social echelon, he just used it as a tool to usurp political power from the Labor Party.

Fuksman complained, as reported in the INN news website, and the response of Channel 8 and the Hot cable carrier was that “Gutwein presented his personal view of Israel’s economic history which is based on many years of research and deep insight. Like any presentation, also that of Gutwein’s is open to public criticism and public discussion, which we welcome.”

Fuksman is not unbiased. He is an employee of the Begin Center (as is Y.M.) whose public mandate is to preserve the legacy of Menachem Begin. However, any objective observer would conclude that unfortunately, Channel 8 was less than truthful in its response. The editors should have imposed on Tsabari and Gutwein some minimal standards of reporting, such as providing the public with an independent opinion or a follow-up discussion on the chapter.

They should have had the courtesy to allow the Begin Center to respond.

They knew that Tsabari and Gutwein are not exactly supporters of the Likud and never have been.

They could have guessed that the end result would not be a pluralistic view. They chose to defend revisionist history instead of providing the viewership with an important multi-layered analysis of an era which leaves its imprint on Israeli society to this very day.

One may claim that there is nothing wrong in allowing a distinguished personality to make claims regarding Israel’s society and its economics according to his outlook.

This was the purpose of the whole series. Its first chapter was presented by Guy Rolnik, editor and founder of Haaretz’s The Marker newspaper and a recipient of Israel’s Media Watch’s prize for economic journalism. The second highlighted Professor Yaron Zelicha, a former accountant general of the State of Israel, appointed by then finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later, he turned into a supporter of MK Shelly Yacimovich and her socialist order.

Interestingly, Zelicha’s career, which had its ups and downs, includes work both in the private and public sectors. He played important roles in the process of privatization of Bank Discount and Bank Leumi including a charge against then prime minister Ehud Olmert that he improperly involved himself in the process. Among others, as reported in The Seventh Eye, he has accused the Yediot Aharonot syndicate of being a major player in defending Israel’s economic system, which in Zelicha’s eyes is corrupt. Interestingly, Ynet, the syndicate’s Internet arm, refrained from publicizing the chapter of the Silver Platter series which starred Zelicha.

It is then not surprising that the series was not balanced. All three presenters pointed toward the need to renew the social protest movement of 2011. But of the three it is Gutwein who stands out as a political choice rather than a professional one. Both Rolnik and Zelicha have spent their lives in the economic sphere and have something to say about it. Gutwein is at best a historian.

But he is an excellent spokesperson for the radical Left. Choosing him sent home the message that this was not an educational series but one intended to brainwash.

Thankfully, the budget for the series ended and those of you who still use the cable services of Hot and funded this sad story can be relieved.

It has come to an end.


November 6, 2015

MEDIA COMMENT: Necessary media legislation

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:29 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Necessary media legislation
“One of the major flaws of the present legislation is that it threw out the previous clause in the law which laid down the principle that the IBA has to broadcast to the Jewish Diaspora.”
Minister Gilad Erdan, responsible for the Strategic Affairs Ministry, is now receiving NIS 100 million to lead Israel’s struggle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Perhaps we should be thankful that after years of inaction, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu understands that the BDS movement poses a strategic threat to Israel and should be considered very seriously. But is Minister Erdan the right person to lead this struggle?

We recall that it was Minister Erdan who, in his capacity as communications minister in the previous Netanyahu government, steamrolled legislation which is leading to the closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and creating the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation (IBC). Erdan’s legislation was post-Zionist. It needed prodding and political pressure to improve it a bit. It needed the conviction of Minister Ofir Akunis to rename it the Israel Broadcasting Corporation; Erdan was against the usage of the word “Israel” in the title.

But this is only a minor quibble. One of the major flaws of the present legislation is that it threw out the previous clause in the law which laid down the principle that the IBA has to broadcast to the Jewish Diaspora.

This paragraph was not left out by mistake.

We pointed out repeatedly, during the legislative process’ committee deliberations, how wrong this was. We noted that Israel is under an anti-Israel/Zionist onslaught abroad and the front-line soldiers who have to combat it are our Jewish sisters and brothers. We pleaded with Erdan to reinstate the paragraph, but to no avail.

The results were quick to come, as the readers of this paper know. The present management of the IBA in its last months of operation understood that the new law implies that there is no need to continue various broadcasts in foreign languages, and the English news was one of the first to be cut. Thankfully, the English-speaking public raised an outcry and the news was reinstated, but is this the minister with whom we are entrusting a struggle which necessarily involves Diaspora Jewry? Is his staff also post-Zionist? The Knesset has returned from its summer recess and we have already approached several Knesset members, calling upon them to take the initiative and reinstall into the Israel Broadcasting Corporation law the clause which directs the IBC to keep contact with the Diaspora and to prepare the necessary programming for this purpose. It was three years ago that the IBA on Hanukka had a series called Communities’ Lighting, produced by Moshe Alafi, which portrayed a different community in the Diaspora on each Hanukka night: its successes, hardships and goals.

It was an illuminating series for the average Israeli, who for once could get to know what it really means to keep up Jewish life in the Diaspora. But it was also a source of pride for these communities to know that here in Israel we care, and want to know more about them. Why was this discontinued? This is but one example of many of what could and should be done – but will not be under the present legislation. Does Minister Erdan hope that the IBC will produce TV series depicting the struggles of students on campuses worldwide against the BDS movement and its supporters? Will he perhaps admit his error and lead the change in legislation? Necessary media legislation is not limited to this issue alone. There is also the resurrection of the Hebrew language. At the time, all the experts were doubtful and predicted failure.

Yet the Hebrew language thrived, for a century.

Today, it is faltering. Teachers no longer know the grammatical rules and English is replacing it everywhere. The feeble attempts of the Hebrew Language Academy to provide new terminology for concepts such as “Internet,” “application,” “SMS,” “spin” and many more are leading nowhere. Probably most responsible are our media stars, who seem to prefer English terms in their reports.

The central purveyor of the Hebrew language is the media. It is especially the duty of the national public broadcaster to safeguard national values, Hebrew being one of the more important ones. Yet Minister Erdan did not want this and the present legislation does nothing to assure that in fact the IBC will be Israeli in the sense that it will promote the Hebrew language.

Anyone listening to the advertisements on Kol Yisrael will note to what extent English has dominated our airwaves. Language on the airwaves is controlled nowadays by the advertising agencies, whose main interest is to promote their wares, not to safeguard our national heritage. The ideal situation would be to abolish advertisements altogether from the public broadcasters, but at the least, those MKs who profess to be the guardians of Zionism should take this to heart and reintroduce the legislation that existed until last year, namely, that it is the duty of the IBS to strengthen the ties of the population with the Hebrew language and abide by the principles laid down by the Hebrew Language Academy.

It is not a secret that the best school for media studies in Israel is the army radio station (Galatz). Any aspiring journalist has an enormous head start on the competition if she or he served for three years at Galatz. Yet what is being done to assure that the soldiers chosen are committed to the Jewish Zionist state? Not much.

For example, a combat soldier is not allowed to serve at Galatz, since it is not a combat unit. The result is that those who are willing to volunteer for combat duty, who consider it a special honor to be able to serve the Jewish state in the army to the best of their capacity, cannot serve at Galatz. Isn’t it about time that this situation be remedied? Don’t we all understand that the quality of our future media stars and their commitment to Zionism and the Jewish state are crucial for the future generations? If the answer is yes, then our MKs should initiate the necessary legislation. Indeed, Galatz operates under a legal lacuna, since there is no law that delineates what the station should or should not be doing. Moreover, there is no public oversight of Galatz – a strange situation for a public broadcasting station. Which MK will assume the legislative challenge? When trying to convince various legislators, the invariable answer we are faced with is that “yes, this is important, but there are much more burning issues, after all aren’t we suffering from continuous terrorist attacks?” They’ll mention the need to consider the threat from Iran, etc.

Yes, there will always be burning issues, but it was once said that the wise man does not enter pitfalls from which the smart person must later extricate her or himself. Israel’s battle with BDS is, among other things, the result of decades of neglect regarding the need to explain to the world what the Jewish state is about.

Our legislators, can, if only they had the wisdom, take some small steps today whose fruits will be appreciated by the generations to come.