July 20, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: It’s the hidden news, stupid

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:13 am by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT:It’s the hidden news, stupid
Incomplete news is another aspect of hidden news.
Do you recall reading this item recently: “Jewish youths attacked the vineyards of the West Bank Arab village of Kusra on Saturday afternoon, according to the IDF.” Well, you didn’t, even though such news items are routinely reported in Israel’s media as well as the foreign media, and often receive a high profile.

This parallel item, though: “Palestinians attacked the vineyards of the West Bank Esh Kodesh outpost on Saturday afternoon, according to the IDF,” did appear in this paper on January 6, 2013. Indeed, such an item would seem to be newsworthy.

On the Friday evening of July 1, 2017, those same vineyards were again damaged, seriously. The suspects are Arabs who perhaps were involved in the same act of criminal vandalism four years ago. As reported at the INN news website, Arab vandals destroyed 2.5 acres of vineyards next to the town of Esh Kodesh, near Shiloh.

Tzvi Struk, the son of former Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struk, discovered that much of his Cabernet Sauvignon- variety grapes, that were due to be harvested in just two months, were no longer. The loss is estimated at several hundred thousand shekels.

And again we ask you: did you read, see or hear this news item? Struk, one would assume, is newsworthy. In 2007 he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for wounding a 15-year-old Palestinian boy. In November 16, 2014, the media was reporting on an incident where he was suspected of planting vine saplings on Arab property.

But now, when Arabs are suspected of a crime against him, could it be that the media is just not interested? Israel’s media is very interested in Diaspora Jewry.

Reform and Conservative Jewry have been in the limelight most recently due to the disagreement regarding the Western Wall. Some elements of the media were threatening viewers and readers with dire consequences.

But what happens when, in London, someone is recognized as a “Zionist” and promptly he and his family are expelled from an open event for which he registered? Or when a Jew at that same event who put on a kippa was also expelled? Is that reported? A week ago, David Collier attended the Palestine Expo in London, which was advertised as a cultural event and a family affair. He went to the QEII Conference Center with his wife and 11-year-old son to enjoy the exhibits and activities, and “most of all,” he wrote, he “looked forward to the food.” Midway through their lunch, they were expelled after being spotted by members of a local anti-Israel group “London Palestine Action.”

He left in accordance with the requests of the security team even though he had told them he was a member of the press who was being evicted on discriminatory grounds. That didn’t help him.

He wasn’t the only one. Jason Silver, after meandering about for three hours, sat down to eat lunch (included in the price of a ticket), and placed a kippa on his head. He was then asked to leave. The incident was captured on video. Police were called when he insisted that all he was doing was eating lunch. If a Muslim woman had insisted on keeping on her niqab and was therefore expelled from an event, for example, would that not be newsworthy enough for our local media? The event itself was not ignored. Haaretz’s Danna Harman published on July 8 this story: “Dogged by Claims of Extremism, Biggest Palestinian Expo in Europe Opens in London… controversial event… draws thousands.”

Incomplete news is another aspect of hidden news.

On Sunday this week, Haaretz’s Barak Ravid published at 1:07 a.m. on the paper’s website that Jordan’s king had condemned the Temple Mount attack and that a government spokesman called on Israel to immediately reopen the holy site and to avoid measures that change the status quo. However, just before 11 p.m. on Saturday, Jordan’s official Petra news site had this: “Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat on Saturday warned of Israel’s unprecedented and persistent violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif sanctity under the pretext of containing violence and tension. The minister held Israeli authorities responsible for the mounting tension and violence in the holy compound.”

That viewpoint is significant but Haaretz prefers to keep its readers in the dark when it comes to negative news about a country which supposedly is at peace with Israel.

We can understand that an extreme left-wing publication like Haaretz will suppress news which does not jibe with its point of view, but the state-sponsored KAN radio news, too, avoided mentioning the negative messages from Jordan. The king’s demand to reopen the Temple Mount was as far as KAN would go.

The statement of Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs and government spokesperson Mohammad Momani on Friday that stressed that “any attempts to change the legal and historical situation in Jerusalem” by Israel were to be rejected was deemed unfit by KAN for public consumption in Israel. So, too, was the social media post of Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin, rapporteur of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Jordanian Parliament, that the international community should set punishments for Israel, as it has “executed unarmed Palestinian citizens, without a trial.”

KAN also suppressed the negative statements and threat of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the Temple Mount. As noted by IMRA, the official PLO news agency WAFA reported that Abbas considers Israel’s closure of the Aksa mosque to be just as deserving of “strong condemnation” as the “fatal Jerusalem shootout.” According to the report, Abbas did not condemn the Arab attackers, only “the fatal shootout.” But KAN, basing itself only on the communique of the Prime Minister’s Office, left out the negative aspects of Abbas’ comments to Netanyahu.

The IDF radio station Galatz did a much better job, providing a well-rounded report.

Arguably, the most egregious withholding or downplaying of news occurred during the historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel two weeks ago. Historically, India, as a leader of the nonaligned nations, was a leader in anti-Israel rhetoric. It also is a country with close to 20% of the world’s population.

In this day and age, when the media stresses time and again that Israel is being isolated, India’s Modi visits Israel and, moreover, does not visit the PA at the same time, nor raise the “two-state solution” mantra. The political implications of his position and leadership should have been the number one item on the news.

But this was not to be. On his first day, which coincided with the primaries of the Labor Party, TV Channel 2 opened the news with the primaries, which were not even over at 8 p.m. But of course Channel 2, a longtime supporter of Israel’s Left, considered the primaries of this decaying political party to be more important than Modi’s visit, coverage of which was relegated to second place and not in depth at that.

Fake news is less dangerous than suppressed news. It is much easier to root out. Media consumers, beware.

The authors are members of Israel’s Media Watch.


July 6, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Yes, the press is not objective

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:05 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Yes, the press is not objective
In Israel, there has always been a media struggle between Left and Right.
The press assures us that it strives for objectivity, balance, facts and fairness. After close to a quarter-century of monitoring, analysis, research and several court cases we, as founders of Israel’s Media Watch, know well that in this country such claims are, well, less than honest.

Unlike the current media craze of “fake news,” we documented hundreds of cases of news items since 1995, as well as news shows and documentaries, where editorial intervention resulted in less-than-truthful news. Information was misrepresented, or was one-sided, or did not seek a rejoinder from the injured side.

In other cases, we detailed how via story location (front page or buried), headline size, background music or dozens of other methods a story could be downplayed or given a push. Standard newspaper practice is to publish a half-dozen op-ed columnists or even bloggers of one stripe and perhaps one of another. That isn’t always done.

Excuses abound, the most popular of which is “professional considerations,” implying that the public, which is not “professional,” cannot appreciate the deep underlying reasons which justify bias.

What we have not yet seen, although the Igal Sarna case comes close (more on that below), is anything like what recently happened at CNN.

Last week, three CNN employees were forced to resign and their story that had linked US President Donald Trump to Russia was retracted. The network let it be known that “some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.” Blaming a “breakdown in editorial workflow,” CNN further informed the public that “these types of stories” did not go through the usual departments such as fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and legal experts. To be sure, CNN indicated that the retraction did not necessarily mean the facts of the story were wrong. But, rather, “the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is.”

We doubt that this could happen in Israel. That is, forced resignations or firings. If anything, the cases of Muhammed Bakri’s film Jenin, Jenin, which falsely accused the IDF of carrying out a massacre in Jenin in 2004, and Motti Lerner’s 1994 play Kasztner, which accused Hanah Szenes of handing two Jewish parachutists over to the Hungarian police, and was to be aired on Channel One, while not strictly hard-news media issues indicate that the opposite is true.

The lack of any responsibility to stick to facts has been justified by our High Court of Justice, which is quite lenient in defining “truth.”

Time and time again, in the name of freedom of the press and freedom of opinion the court permitted lies and untruths to be presented to the public.

In his new book Rediscovering Americanism, Mark Levin harshly criticizes the media’s adoption of progressive ideology, defining this as promises of a “utopia” measured by the end goals of personal freedom and individuality.

He writes: “They reject history’s lessons and instead are absorbed with their own conceit and aggrandizement in the relentless pursuit of a… final outcome… which is an oppression of mind and soul.”

In Israel, there has always been a media struggle between Left and Right. At times, it has been harsh and strident. In several of our previous columns, for example, we have noted the increase in the usage of Nazi-related terminology at Haaretz, a paper which was quite critical of instances when haredim (ultra-Orthodox) employed such invectives against police or the “hilltop youth” against soldiers. In Israel, there is no fairness, especially when reporting is ideologically tainted.

The main headline in the June 28 edition of Haaretz, splashed across all eight columns, was, “Lapid to visit Spain on trip by right-wing NGO Monitor.” The English-language edition’s editor, Noa Landau, could not simply write “NGO Monitor.”

She had to add “right wing.” As far as we know, NGO Monitor is not right-wing. It does, however, highlight the fact that 90% of Israeli civil society NGOs acting in the area of the country’s Arab population and in the administered territories happen to be extreme left-wing and foreign- funded.Haaretz in English will not be objective.

A more subtle example is how, for example, Daniel Gordis, in a June 23 column, described for readers of the Bloomberg Views website the newspaper reactions to author David Grossman’s Booker Prize win: “Even newspapers on the far right celebrated the extraordinary accomplishment.

Israel Hayom
, the controversial Sheldon Adelson-backed paper widely seen as a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu….” Note the use of “far right” and “controversial.”

Somehow, in Israel, leftists are never “extreme” and left-wing extremists are but “activists.” There are no “ultras” or “radicals” in the left-ofcenter camp. Gordis or other columnists will never describe Haaretz as the “German-funded paper whose owners are tainted by the Nazi era.”

Nor will he describe it as a “post-Zionist anti-Jewish Israeli publication.”

Igal Sarna, who lost a libel suit initiated against him by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, provided another example of our politicized press. His loss was due to violation of what we would consider the most elementary principle of journalism: he was unable to support his claims with facts.

In a July 2 interview published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine, he readily admitted that “I’m a fierce opponent of Netanyahu.” He had written that Netanyahu is “a mushroom that grew out of [assassinated prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin’s blood, since Netanyahu was involved in inciting against him.”

As for his latest run-in with the Netanyahus, he remained unrepentant, admitting that “I’m not well versed in all the details. I couldn’t get to the person who was present there.” A journalist with such low standards should be fired. And he was – back in 2011. He was, however, rehired. Did Yediot Aharonot consider his politics more worthy than his journalistic standards? Our media in Israel is politically biased and overwhelmingly pro-Left.

Here’s how it works in England.

Anchor Jon Snow was accused of mouthing a noxious “anti-Tory rant,” but The Guardian took the opportunity to dispel “the myth of the pinko inside the TV” by asserting that Snow “is serious about impartiality – and sometimes what looks like bias is simply independent thought.” One wonders what the Guardian would have written had Snow gone against Labor with similar views.

The Atlantic 
journalist McKay Coppins wrote this week about “a vast alternative left-wing media infrastructure… polemical podcasters and partisan click farms; wild-eyed conspiracists and cynical fabulists… [that] traffic heavily in rumor and wage campaigns of misinformation… a media universe where partisan hysteria is too easily stoked, and fake news can travel at the speed of light.”

That framework exists in Israel as well. Channel 10’s item on a report by an extreme left-wing NGO, Molad – Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, “Attracting Followers,” which asserted the existence of a clandestine campaign of the Education Ministry to promote religious indoctrination of secular school pupils, was shown by investigative reporter Kalman Liebskind and others to be quite baseless.

So, caveat emptor. Media consumer, beware. But also push back. Complain.

It’s your civic duty.