September 13, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Keep Channel 20 on

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:35 pm by yisraelmedad

Keep Channel 20 on
By YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK
09/13/2017
When Channel 20 started operations in 2014, it recognized that Israel’s three mainstream news channels are dominated by the liberal post-Zionist agenda.
Many of our readers may not ever have watched TV Channel 20. It broadcasts only on cable and satellite TV, although selected programs are uploaded to the channel’s Facebook page and appear on the Arutz 7 website. The broadcasting law prevents it from broadcasting on the DTT system, which is the technical platform that enables TV channels 2, 10 and 11 to be viewed freely by all. Channel 20 is one of the “dedicated channels.”

As such, its task is to provide “Jewish heritage content.”

There are four operative dedicated cable TV channels, the other three being a music channel and two “foreign” language networks, which broadcast in Russian and in Arabic respectively. These four channels are supposed to make ends meet by selling ads, but this is a tough market and they are not profitable.

Clearly, to survive, each of them must do the utmost to increase viewership.

Channel 20 started operations in 2014. It recognized that Israel’s three mainstream news channels are dominated by the liberal post-Zionist agenda. It made economic sense to provide viewers with very different content and so, from day one, it decided to broaden the scope of its mandate and provide news programs whose ethos is based on Jewish heritage, that is, Zionism and a healthy respect for Judaism. In its original contract, it was stipulated that it would be able to do so, contingent upon the necessary regulatory changes being made.

These changes were enacted in 2016 and allowed the channel, in principle, to dedicate 25% of its airtime to news-related content. The decision was made by the regulator, the Cable and Satellite TV Authority (CSTVA), chaired by Dr. Yifat Ben-Chai Segev. The news programs were to have started this fall, but the channel was impatient and initiated them immediately.

The channel thus turned into a thorn in the side of the same powerful organizations that have a penchant for reminding us that a staple of democracy is freedom of the press.

It is very difficult to forget that TV Channel 10 was for many years a serial violator of the contracts it signed with the regulator, as well as of the regulations governing TV broadcasting. The Netanyahu government, instead of closing it down, heeded the calls for more channels rather than less.

When necessary it even changed the law to allow the channel to broadcast. It is this same channel, in the spirit of the “Cossack thief,” which submitted a brief to the Supreme Court demanding that the permit allowing Channel 20 to broadcast news be withdrawn.

Its claim is based on the fact that the RGE company, which is the majority owner of Channel 10, signed a contract which assured that there would not be an additional news channel. By changing the regulations, so the claim goes, the CSTVA damaged Channel 10 unfairly and caused the state to violate its commitments to the channel.

Channel 10 is not the only one attempting to close down Channel 20. The Reform and Conservative movements did the same. They claim that the channel has discriminated against them and does not allow their representatives or content to be a part of its broadcasts.

On March 1, 2017, a meeting took place between the two religious streams and the CSTVA with the result that the Authority warned Channel 20 that it would monitor their program for the coming month to determine whether the claims of the Reform and Conservative movements are justified. The Authority then determined that indeed Channel 20 was behaving in a discriminatory fashion and in August decided to fine the channel NIS 100,000.

This was not the first fine that month. The CSTVA gave notice on July 16 that it would also fine the channel for an interview it conducted with the prime minister.

The claim here was that the channel did not yet have the full permit to broadcast news. We should add to this that the mainstream channels 2, 10 and 11 were eating themselves with envy as a result of this scoop of Channel 20. They have for years requested similar interviews from the prime minister but were refused.

Netanyahu felt more comfortable in the studio of Channel 20 – which is not obsessed with bringing down his government.

There is another important chapter to this saga.

TV Channel 2 lost its franchise to carry the Knesset channel broadcasts, which was transferred to Channel 20 after a proper tender process supervised by a public committee. Channel 2 is not used to losing and it was furious. It promptly submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court demanding that the decision be annulled. The court, in its infinite wisdom and defense of pluralism, handed down a decision freezing the franchise given to Channel 20 and to this very day, Channel 2 continues its domination of the Knesset channel.

All of this came to a head this past week. In response to the brief submitted by Channel 10’s majority stakeholder RGE, the court demanded that the CSTVA respond by September 1. We do not know what the CSTVA response was. However, we do know that it decided that unless the Knesset legislates that Channel 20 is allowed to broadcast news, it would collect the four million shekels that the channel deposited as guarantee fees. It also warned that if the channel continues broadcasting news its license would be revoked.

This last threat and decision raised a cry. Again, the left wing in Israel, the staunch defender of democracy, was seemingly succeeding in closing down a media station.

This is not new. In 1999 the Knesset passed a law granting Arutz 7 a license to broadcast. MK Eitan Cabel and others promptly petitioned the Supreme Court which, in March 2002, decreed that freedom of speech notwithstanding, Arutz 7 must be closed down. In the aftermath, in 2003, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court convicted 10 Arutz 7 directors and staff members for broadcasting without a license and sentenced them to fines and community service.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara was on the defensive last week. In an interview on the Galei Yisrael radio station with anchors Erez Tadmor and Michael Dvorin, Kara stated unequivocally: “I am here in the Communications Ministry to safeguard the freedom of expression and will not allow the closure of [Channel] 20.”

The trouble is that words are just that: words. They must be followed with actions and in this case, new legislation. As this took place when Channel 10 should have been closed down, it can be readily be done. The public wants it, petitions have already been signed by thousands. Israel’s Media Watch posted a short satirical clip, comparing the closure of Channel 20 to Turkey and other “democratic” nations who use various methods to shut down unwanted media channels.

Will the Netanyahu government really defend freedom of speech? Will it open up the media market as Netanyahu has promised so many times, or are we bystanders to the usual performance – words, words and more words? 

^

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August 30, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: It can be better

Posted in Media, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 10:28 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: It can be better
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK
08/30/2017
If the result is that Netanyahu will then actually reconsider and keep his electoral promises, then we will know that the media has changed.
At the Edinburgh International Television festival on August 23, Jon Snow, England’s Channel 4 News presenter, delivered the 2017 James Mac-Taggart memorial lecture. Snow had recently been in a bit of trouble. He was caught shouting a profanity against the Tories this past June at another festival in Glastonbury, an act that compromised his professional ethical duty to maintain a semblance of objectivity.

Snow was rather forthright, saying in Edinburgh that media people have been taught these last two years that “we all know nothing.” The digital media has not “connected us any more effectively with those “left behind – the disadvantaged, the excluded.”

He explained, “The mostly London-based media pundits, pollsters and so-called experts, have got it wrong – the Brexit referendum… [US President Donald] Trump… [the UK] general election.” His conclusion was astonishing: “We in the media are comfortable with the elite, with little awareness, contact, or connection with those not of the elite.”

He illustrated the ignorance by noting that when he Googled “Grenfell Tower” – the British apartment tower that burned in June, killing close to 100 people – a blog post was found from eight months prior to the disaster, not penned by any journalist, that highlighted the dangers of the building.

“The echelons from which our media are drawn do not, for the most part, fully reflect the population among whom we live and to whom we seek to transmit information and ideas,” he declared.

Anyone who has been following our columns regularly knows that our criticism of Israel’s own media elite, the branja, pinpoints those very themes with one major addition of our own: the decidedly Left-leaning political bias and liberal cultural partisanship.

Another insight was provided by Conrad Black, writing in The National Review in mid-August, after viewing Copy, Jacob Bernstein’s documentary life of his mother, Nora Ephron. He came away with “a much clearer picture… of the force, attractiveness and danger of that talented cultural, media and entertainment world of which she was such a prominent figure.” It gave him “a clear view of their collective self-absorption… [They] believe[d] that their media and entertainment world is, in effect, the real world, a world of great power and influence and virtue – and much the most interesting world of any.”

That, too, resonates with Israel’s own branja. We maintain that they display, as Black said about North America’s media elite, “the vulgarity, vacuity, and reckless contempt for the public and for any notion of duty to reflect society with balance and integrity…” They demonstrate they can be “a group of anti-theistic, ultra-materialistic, narcissistic poseurs, hedonists of self-celebration.”

The question is: Is there an alternative?

In an August 20 BuzzFeed report called “The Rise of Israel’s Right-Wing Media,” Miriam Berger writes Channel 20’s TV program “The Patriots.” She sees it as “trying to model itself after Fox News.” In her perception, “more often than not, they argue over whether Israel’s politics are right-leaning enough.”

She is perceptive enough to know that “for years, Israel’s Hebrew-speaking media was dominated by a relatively centrist, liberal press,” but “now overtly rightwing media figures…are increasingly normal. They proudly air their politics – and broadcast a more religious nationalist and populist agenda for Israel.” Disparagingly, she adds that this is part of a “similar progression” to “the rise of so-called alt-right media” in US politics.

YET, ISRAELIS are also quick to point out that actually we here have been a harbinger for the US – and the anti-liberal, “strongman” wave that turbulently swept through much of the Middle East and Europe. Back in 2015, most of Israel’s feisty media predicted that Netanyahu would lose the general elections. He won and hasn’t stopped gleefully reminding journalists since. This coincided with a majority of Israelis feeling that the media was untrustworthy, with a leftist bias. Together with technological advances, it also led to a growth in more overtly partisan media outlets.

Unfortunately, instead of being a professional neutral observer, Berger writes that Israel’s “media is changing… reflecting tensions at the heart of the country’s politics and society” as if the assertion that for decades the media was slanted to the Left was the preferred situation. She quotes Oren Persico of The Seventh Eye that “the media is just another front for this confrontation between the old secular elites who are Center-Left and the new elites of religious Right.”

Persico disputes the claim that Israel’s media has a left-wing bias, making it clear to all that he is not exactly an objective observer of Israel’s media. Berger then quotes Erel Segal of Channel 20: “Nobody believes in objectivity anymore.” The bottom line of Berger is that Israel does have an alternative today.

We feel that the competition between the various news outlets need not be politicized and rooted in ideological outlooks. True, too often, we have seen the same type of journalist move from Galei Tzahal to Channel One and then on to Channels Two and Ten as well as into the print media. More often than not, they simply replicate the type of questions they will be asking (heavily anti-Netanyahu rather than anti-government) and the topics they’ll be covering (usually the “occupation”) over the reality that is the real news.

They will continue to oppress various minorities that will rarely be provided with platforms or afforded a sense of normalcy – such as women, immigrants, especially from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, Arabs and haredim. But they will staunchly defend the illegal immigrants living in southern Tel Aviv at the expense of the Israelis living there legally. After all, the illegals are mostly black and political correctness says that black is always right.

Too much attention is paid to fashion and food – all too expensive. The media will be sympathetic to the invalids who have been violating the law, obstructing traffic and getting away with it, all in an attempt to take more money out of the taxpayers. They will never seriously question the invalid’s morals and outright violations of the law as they did to the Gush Katif demonstrators who tried to do just the same – obstruct the traffic.

At this point, Channel 20 is the beginning of an alternative, but it is far from being sufficient. The blogs, tweets and various websites providing alternative news and opinion are part of the solution, but also not sufficient. We will know that Israel’s media had changed on the day that the prime minister is pressed with questions about his lack of faithfulness to his voters.

If the result is that Netanyahu will then actually reconsider and keep his electoral promises, then we will know that the media has changed.

Is this possible? Yes, but only if the public is sufficiently vociferous in its demand for such a change.

^

August 29, 2017

Father and son guard the land

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:54 pm by yisraelmedad

Father and son guard the land

by YISRAEL MEDAD (Originally published in the Jerusalem Post)

(The writer represents the Shilo community in the Binyamin Regional Council.)

(July 26, 1996) — I was still a teenager when in 1966 I first visited Amatzia, a moshav on Israel’s border facing the Hebron Hills. A few months later I would spend a full half-year there, working its fields and riding its herd of beef cattle.

The security situation then was dangerous. Infiltrations were rampant. Our fields were occasionally damaged and our livestock stolen. On Independence Day Eve the community was penetrated. An empty house was partially destroyed by explosives laid by Arab terrorists.

The Arabs were violently opposed to a Jewish presence in the Jewish homeland. But I and the permanent residents were Zionist pioneers. We accepted the reality.

As pioneers we deserved – and received – public support. That was the fact of our lives. We were settling the land, developing its potential and protecting other communities, those located in the “middle” of the country.

We were following in the paths of many thousands before us from both sides of the political spectrum who had asserted a Jewish presence in the Jewish homeland during previous generations.

The army cooperated fully with us and our needs. We devoted many hours each month to guard duty. The return trip from Kiryat Gat at night was hazardous. Social and cultural activities were rare and our relative isolation was yet another burden.

But we were Zionist pioneers and that was something to be proud of.

Thirty years later my 15-year-old son Nedavya watched me attempting to dislodge trespassers out to destroy Jewish agriculture and irrigation equipment while he extinguished blazing fields set afire by enemies of a Jewish presence in the Jewish homeland.

He saw many dozens of Arabs storm the area under cultivation. They tore down two fences, lit fires, uprooted olive saplings and broke others. They threw rocks and brandished sticks.

Nedavya witnessed, as I did a generation ago and as did others in earlier generations, Arab violence against so-called “settlements.” And so the cycle continues.

That “settlements” are an obstacle is nothing new in the Zionist lexicon. In 1920 the Jewish “settlement” in Jerusalem was attacked by Arab rioters; a year later the Jewish “settlement” in Jaffa was attacked.

Kibbutzim and cities were “settlements.” And “settlers” were haredim slaughtered in Hebron and ideological secularists in the Jezreel Valley. Yet there will always be a future to the concept of settling the Land.

FOREIGN observers and Jewish opponents to a Jewish presence throughout the Jewish homeland are quite interested these days in whether the communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza are to expand.

Of course they will. Former government edicts will be invalidated. Projects will be unfrozen. Certain essentials that only government can provide will be made available and private investors and entrepreneurs will be invited to help.

An attitude of empathy and admiration will be forthcoming from Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition. That’s what he promised; that’s what we expect.

Unlike some pronouncements made recently regarding a major population growth, most of the residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza are aware that the heady days of the mid-1980s cannot be repeated.

The Oslo accords hang, albatross-like, around the prime minister’s neck. President Clinton’s peace team keeps up the pressure. Arabs, like those in Shilo last week, will seek to create provocations.

Nevertheless, those in power know that without the presence of Jews in Judea, Samaria and Gaza the situation would be worse.

In the first instance, if the communities are at all an “obstacle,” they are an obstacle to an independent PLO state, the creation of which would be existentially inimical to Israel.

Secondly, Israel cannot continue simply on the basis of a “New Middle East” vision combined with the thrust of academic “post-Zionism.” The linking of these two ideals is a destructive force.

The return to basics, to the fundamental imperatives of Zionism as exemplified by some 150,000 Judea, Samaria and Gaza residents in over 140 communities is not only inspiring. It is the soul of what this country is.

I have full confidence that my son will overcome the scene he witnessed. I do not believe that his psyche was damaged or that the humanist values we instilled in him will be injured.

I am not elated that he is replaying elements of the Arab-Jewish conflict. But I have faith that he and his generation will persevere in guarding and taking care of the land.

For my son is a Zionist and a vital aspect of Zionism is the physical presence in the Jewish homeland. Without the vistas of our 3,500-year history here, its successes and failures, the exile and destruction as well as the heroic return and reconstruction, we have no future.

And we intend there to be no doubt about the future. We in Judea, Samaria and Gaza have settled that.

 

^

What Unites Shiloh and Jerusalem

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:51 pm by yisraelmedad

What Unites Shiloh and Jerusalem
March 31, 2010 (Published in the Forward)
I have news for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Not only is Jerusalem not a “settlement” — as he correctly noted in his speech before the convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — but neither is my hometown of Shiloh.

Since late November, and at Netanyahu’s initiative, Zionism has been in a stage of suspension. A suspension of construction, that is, although some see in this policy a broader suspension of the goals at the heart of Zionism itself. The object of this abject exercise was to lure Palestinian Authority negotiators back to the table, as well as to relieve American diplomatic pressure on Israel.

On both these counts, of course, it has been a failure. We are still stuck on the matter of “proximity talks,” a euphemistic term for mediated, indirect discussions akin to those that took place 70 years ago.

In early 1939, the British attempted similar talks, at the St. James Conference in London, with the Zionist and Arab delegations each on a separate floor. That turned out to be a prelude to the rejection of the idea of a Jewish national home via the British Parliament’s adoption of the infamous 1939 White Paper, which closed the gates to large-scale Jewish immigration. The petulant behavior of the Obama administration thus recalls other disastrous developments that the Jewish people have been forced to confront.

In Shiloh we are very much aware of being on the cutting-edge of an international confrontation that demands facing up to Arab terror, overcoming our media image and dealing with the undermining influence of “humanitarian” groups, as well as the foibles of our own government. In many respects, this is nothing new for us.

In early 1978, President Jimmy Carter was angered by the founding of Shiloh. The president had assumed, mistakenly, that then prime minister Menachem Begin had committed himself to what today would be called a “settlement freeze.” Carter demanded that Shiloh be dismantled.

That was 32 years ago. From the eight families who had moved to the site where the Tabernacle was erected, where Joshua divided the Land of Israel into tribal portions and where Samuel was instructed to become a prophet, we are now almost 300 families. Where one temporary encampment existed, the Shiloh Bloc today consists of 10 communities and satellite neighborhoods with almost 8,000 people.

Our primary school is undergoing an expansion that will double its size. Just before the moratorium on building, we finished 10 housing units. More plots, authorized years ago, are being built. Our vineyards are producing wine. Our fruit and olive trees echo the biblical promise of Jeremiah 31:5 — “Again shall you plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria.” And our children, our true future, belie all the demographic horror stories.

Our confidence is not without consideration for our sacrifices. There is a street in Shiloh with 10 houses. Four families on that street have suffered losses from Arab terror. One 16-year-old was killed in the 2008 massacre at Jerusalem’s Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva. A 17-year-old, living in the house next door, died in a suicide bombing, which also killed the 16-year-old granddaughter of the family next door on the other side. Four houses down from there is the home of a 17-year-old who was gunned down while playing on his high school’s outdoor basketball court during the second intifada.

Security is never far from our minds, despite our insistence on concentrating on the positive aspects that are at the core of Zionism: reclaiming our land, rebuilding it, assuring the continued existence of the Jewish national home and promoting the safety and spiritual and cultural renaissance of all its citizens. We are quite far from the security barrier. But we are very close to Jerusalem, in a spiritual and national sense. The territory that we live on and cultivate may be labeled “disputed,” but almost 90 years ago the entire civilized world, in the framework of the League of Nations, guaranteed my right and that of all Jews to reconstitute the Jewish national home, including in the area where three generations of my family now live.

Those who do not recognize our rights in Shiloh also do not do so in Jerusalem. Not only have American administrations refused to act in good faith in implementing the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by Congress, but the traditional policy of the State Department has been to not recognize Israel’s sovereignty in its capital city, even over West Jerusalem neighborhoods. And on July 4, 1967, the United States voted for U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2253, which opposed any alteration in the city’s status.

The current dispute with the United States highlights the reality that the Obama administration does not distinguish between Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and communities in Judea and Samaria. To the White House, both are “settlements.” Or, as we say in my hometown, before there was Jerusalem, there was Shiloh, and our destinies cannot be separated.

Yisrael Medad serves as a foreign media spokesman for the Yesha Council and blogs at www.myrightword.blogspot.com.

August 16, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Netanyahu, first blame yourself

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:51 pm by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: Netanyahu, first blame yourself
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK
08/16/2017
Prime Minister Netanyahu had 10 years to provide the electorate with a free media market.
Last Wednesday evening, we witnessed the latest round of the slugfest between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the media.

In what The New York Times termed a “pugnacious” event, and described as being in “Trumpian fashion,” Netanyahu came out swinging in response to the role of the media in pushing, framing and highlighting the allegations that he has acted criminally in various cases now under police and state prosecutor investigation.

Some of his remarks included: “You remember that the fake news media have been hammering us in a unified choir … because both the Left and the media – it’s the same thing, you know – they are enlisting now in an obsessive, unprecedented hunting trip … with the goal of carrying out a government coup … The media and the Left contrive endless scandals … to apply unacceptable and incessant pressure on law enforcement authorities … The thought police in the media are working full time … The media and the Left that it serves.”

As prime minister, Netanyahu should know better. Criticizing the media is too often a necessary exercise; in our column we do it all the time. Yet there is a fine line that divides between criticism and sensationalism, and Netanyahu crossed it. A serious journalist is not allowed to ignore for example tape recordings of the prime minister’s conversation with Arnon Mozes, Yediot Aharonot’s owner/publisher.

Here too though there is a clear line between reporting events and attempting to manage them. Just as Netanyahu should stay calm in his criticism of his detractors, so too the media should not paint the prime minister in unacceptable colors. Too many senior members of the “branja,” the Israeli term for the media elite, provided disconcerting examples of extreme bias and cheap, unacceptable rhetoric.

Dan Margalit, fired by Israel Hayom and hired by Haaretz, tweeted “Bibi [Netanyahu] … described the media just as antisemites describe Jews.” Raffi Mann, associate professor in the School of Communications in Ariel University, tweeted a poster mentioning nine leaders, such as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, together with Netanyahu and added a caption: “Conclave of the Knights of Democracy: we have made it to the finals.”

We all know Netanyahu has not touched a journalist, let alone jailed one. The comparison calls into question Prof. Mann’s professional judgment.

Haaretz’s Doron Rosenblum posted a wellknown 1930s picture of a large crowd of Nazis with only one person not raising his hand in the Sieg Heil salute, with the caption: “Already tonight he’ll be hearing from [MK David] Bitan.” Bitan organized the Likud Netanyahu support rally. Comparing Likudniks with Nazis is a bit strong.

As if linking Nazism to Netanyahu was not enough, Israel Prize for journalism laureate Nahum Barnea of Yedioth Ahronot wrote, “… Bibi is back on the balcony. As he was then, in October 1995, at Jerusalem’s Zion Square. The same hand-waving….” He was referring to the false charge that Netanyahu was identifying with a photo-montage of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin dressed in an SS uniform and encouraging those shouting that Rabin was a traitor.

Barnea insisted there was now as then “the same demagoguery, the same incitement… the same sarcasm, the same manipulations.”

We can attest that in every demonstration at that time, Netanyahu immediately admonished publicly and clearly anyone who called Rabin a traitor. But for Barnea, Netanyahu is Rabin’s murderer.

Haaretz guest columnist and Hebrew University professor Daniel Blatman, who sees almost everything the Likud and the Right does as Nazi-linked, sure enough warned in Friday’s edition that Israel is close to a Weimar Republic collapse.

Just last Thursday, CNN severed ties with Jeffrey Lord, a regular network pundit, after he had tweeted “Sieg Heil!” in what Lord characterized as an attempt to “mock” Nazism and fascism in a tangle with the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group. Even though Twitter accounts are considered private expressions of opinion, CNN took another view. In Israel, it seems, the responses depend on who makes them.

Despite all this media misbehavior, the real question is not how bad our media is, but rather whether it isn’t the prime minister himself who is responsible for failing to protect Israel’s citizens from the media’s bias? Wasn’t he, until May 28, communications minister? A post he held for two years? As prime minister doesn’t he have a say in what is happening in the communications ministry? Netanyahu has had ample time to fundamentally change Israel’s media market yet has not. Netanyahu, former communications minister Gilad Erdan and his government relinquished control of Israel’s public broadcasters.

They established the Kan conglomerate such that it is controlled by an elitist board and not by the taxpayer and her representatives. This perpetuated the stranglehold of opinionated, amateurish staff on the public broadcaster.

Had Netanyahu done his job and eliminated Army Radio and limited Israel Radio, the media scene would have been much improved.

Public radio broadcasters in Israel are not only subsidized by the state, they are allowed to sell advertisements. This hits the consumer twice. First, we are the victims of unreasonably long advertising slots on the airwaves. Secondly, and more important, the public broadcasters control the advertising market. They set the rates and the private radio broadcasters cannot compete; they do not get state subsidies. The result is that Israel does not have an open radio market.

The TV situation is not much better. Why in this day and age are we limited to Channels 2, 10 and Kan 11? The three TV channels have consistently made it a point to cover sensational and sometimes unsupported news about the various Netanyahu-related investigations.

They can do so because there is no serious competition which would expose them.

One can only wonder why to this very day Israel’s electronic media is controlled by regulatory boards who prefer their own self-serving interests. For years, they have done everything possible to prevent true competition on the airwaves. But Netanyahu and his governments, who appointed these boards, sat on the sidelines. How does it happen that TV Channel 20, which had to struggle to be allowed to broadcast news, is fined for not balancing a program while TV channels 2 and 10 are subsidized by the government to the tune of hundreds of millions of shekels despite their daily violations of the regulations requiring balance and pluralism? For the past 10 years, the only real action by our prime minster to uphold media pluralism was his defense of the Israel Hayom newspaper.

Even here though, he did not defend it out of ideology, believing that Israel needs a free media market. He defended it only because it supported him.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had 10 years to provide the electorate with a free media market.

This would have provided many new perspectives on the news, better and perhaps more informed sources and commentators.

The boring media chorus of today is a direct result of a prime minster who refused to govern.

He is eating today the cake that he baked for so long.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, stop crying – do something! If you only wanted to, you could.

^

August 2, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: A decade of freedom

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:26 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: A decade of freedom
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK
08/02/2017
Ten years ago, Israel’s media was dominated by journalists and academics who had a rather narrow definition of press freedom.
 It was 10 years ago this week that the free newspaper Israel Hayom appeared.

In the beginning it was published only on weekdays. After two years its weekend edition was distributed on Fridays. We are proud that Israel’s Media Watch awarded the paper’s founding editor, Amos Regev, the Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism in 2010. As we noted then, the paper changed Israel’s media map. The hegemony of Yediot Aharonot/Ma’ariv/Haaretz was broken. The Israel Hayom editorial line is proud and unapologetic patriotism.

Ten years ago, Israel’s media was dominated by journalists and academics who had a rather narrow definition of press freedom. In accordance with post-modernist ideology, to them a free press is one that attacks and criticizes the government. As if without such (daily) criticism – and it does not matter if it is true and substantiated – their freedom is somehow curtailed.

The flip side is that if a media outlet does not criticize the government, it is suspect for not doing the job the media clique had framed for it. Worse, support or praise of a government is viewed as an anti-democratic act that borders on treason, at least to the profession of journalism. And in the relativism matrix of post-modernism, they deny for others the very “freedom” they champion for fellow journalists and media owners. This attitude is also carried over into media critique columns published in the mainstream press, locking out anyone not toeing the liberal and progressive line.

Israel Hayom suffered from this attitude.

For years, its journalists were shunned by the mainstream media, denying them exposure. They were not interviewed as experts or commentators by the electronic media. The paper’s op-ed articles were ignored. Indeed, Israel’s Media Watch presented the now defunct Israel Broadcasting Authority with statistics showing how the morning headlines came primarily from Ha’aretz and Yediot, and always first, while Israel Hayom was almost nonexistent.

The media called the paper the “Bibiton” (a portmanteau of the Hebrew word for newspaper, “iton,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname, “Bibi,”), denigrating it for its consistent support for Netanyahu. This is true, the paper did support the prime minister, unabashedly. But Yediot Aharonot supported Ehud Olmert, now a convicted criminal, for many years.

At the same time, it insisted that it was the “newspaper of the country.” The media never took Yediot to task for this, it was not called the “Olmerton.” It was considered to be influential and its journalists were media stars.

But just as the Israelites in Egypt, so with Israel Hayom – “the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and spread.” Israelis are no fools. First of all, who says no to a free newspaper? More meaningful, many subscribers left the old guard of Haaretz and Yediot for Israel Hayom.

The numbers speak for themselves. Today, it is the country’s most read newspaper on weekdays, with 39.2% of the public reading it, 5% more than its rival, and on July 20, TGI announced it had overtaken Yediot in weekend circulation.

The paper’s popularity was so threatening, especially to Israel’s Left, that the Left went on a campaign to pass a law to stop it. Legislation was submitted in 2014 by former minister and now Labor MK Eitan Cabel and sponsored by members of five other Knesset parties which sought to prohibit a full-sized paper published six days a week to be given out freely. Not only that, its price had to be at least 70% of that of competing papers. Yair Lapid, a former Yediot journalist, and his party Yesh Atid voted for Cabel’s bill. The bill garnered support even from Israel’s Right. Ministers Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked of Bayit Yehudi initially supported the legislation, but then were absent at the vote.

There are those who claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu called for new elections in 2015 to prevent Israel Hayom’s closing as it generated his most important support base. If this was indeed the case then there is no better proof of the paper’s essential contribution to Israeli society and democracy.

At the outset, to receive legitimacy, the paper hired known left-wing journalists to provide “balance.” People like Dan Margalit and Mordechai Gilat were paid handily to attire the paper’s pages with their names and left-wing point of view. But after 10 years the paper matured. With the change of chief editors a few months ago, Margalit and others were removed and replaced by unabashed Israeli conservatives such as Amnon Lord, former editor of Makor Rishon, and Akiva Bigman, former editor of the Mida website.

In retrospect, Israel Hayom’s journalistic contributions were not spectacular. It did not “break” the story of Olmert’s criminal acts.

Journalist Yoav Yitzchak and his News1 website had many more spectacular investigative achievements during these 10 years. This is not to belittle the acumen of Israel Hayom’s present editor, Boaz Bismuth, who, as the paper’s chief foreign correspondent, and against the opinion of all his peers, consistently wrote that Donald Trump had a good chance of winning the US presidential election. In fact, it is this politically incorrect point of view which is perhaps the best characteristic of the newspaper.

It is also expressed by Dr. Dror Eydar.

He was an unknown before Israel Hayom.

His consistent writing and commentary, supporting Israeli settlement of Judea and Samaria, expressing the futility of a “twostate solution” and supporting right-wing legislation against foreign-funded NGOs and more is slowly but surely conferring celebrity status on him. Over the past few years he has been invited time and again as a commentator and presenter for Israel’s electronic media. Not enough, not as much as Yediot’s people, but he’s getting there.

The paper also provides former justice minister Yossi Beilin, one of most important persons responsible for the Oslo Accords and the leader of the Geneva Initiative, with a platform to express his leftwing views. And even though supports Netanyahu it does not keep its readers in the dark about his negative actions.

Israel Hayom’s founding editor Amos Regev wrote in the paper this past Sunday: “The past decade was a fantastic journey … it entailed daily hard work in a media market, facing a blunt, coarse and cynical monopoly… of those who consider that they are the sole thinkers… opposing a left-wing media which idolized the peace process and is not willing to listen to any other opinion.”

He summarized the paper’s ethos: “At Israel Hayom we always remember that first and foremost we are Israelis and that the State of Israel is the only state of the people of Israel and a red line defends her – the IDF, police and other security organs.”

Israeli society should be grateful to Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson for giving us such an important present without which Israel would not have a truly free press.

We wish Channel 2’s Gilad Shalmor a full recovery from his severe beating incurred while covering rioting in Jaffa.

 

^

July 23, 2017

WE’RE HEARING STATUS QUO STATIC

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:18 pm by yisraelmedad

WE’RE HEARING STATUS QUO STATIC

Published as

Let My People Pray At The Temple Mount — It Will Teach Palestinians A Lesson at The Forward

By Yisrael Medad

This past Wednesday I again ascended to the Temple Mount, as I have done many scores of times, and, following the police security check, was permitted to enter the compound Muslims call the Haram A-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary. The precincts were empty, totally so. I did not see more than a half-dozen Muslims there except for eight tourists who appeared to originate from an Asian country. Despite this dearth, there were more policemen than usual and they appeared more heavily armed and quite tense.

That we were allowed in was a minor miracle as visits by Jews had been halted during the morning window for non-Muslims to be present. Someone had opened a siddur (prayer book), it seems, an act which is proscribed (there actually is a list of some twenty actions a Jew, or a Christian, for that matter, cannot do. That includes murmuring, moving ones lips as if reciting, prostration or shaking in a ritual fashion (shuckling). That ban of such activities is the practical translation of what is known as the status quo.

And this week’s developments, with Muslims refusing to enter and conducting prayer assemblies outside, is all because of a perceived change in that status quo. Who would have thought that a metal detector was such a powerful instrument?

———————

A fortnight after the Six-Days War, Moshe Dayan, then Defense Minister, awarded to the Waqf Islamic Religious Trust the internal administration of the Temple Mount and agreed to a status quo arrangement that no Jews would be permitted to pray therein.  At a meeting on October 24, 2015, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave Jordan’s King Abdallah II and then US Secretary of State John Kerry, this assurance:

Israel re-affirms…the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practice. Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount.”

In doing so, Netanyahu continued Israel’s governments’ 50-year commitment, upheld numerous times by the country’s High Court for Justice, that, more than anything else, has contributed to the delegimitization of the standing of Jews at the site most sacred to, and historically and nationally, the most central location of, the Jewish nation. And we are angry and upset at UNESCO.

If anyone was cheering on the Women of the Wall (WOW), it was me. A religious location. A violent repression. An obscurantist adversary. And an issue of freedom of worship. All the ingredients were present but when pressed on the obvious parallel between the rights of WOW and the Temple Mount, MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) declared in 2013 that while every person of any religion has the right to pray in the places he or she considers holy, “Jews will only be able to pray in the places holy to them after the occupation ends and Jerusalem is [re]divided”.

Not only does Israeli law protect the right of free access and prayer, well, except for Jews at the Temple Mount, but the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty’s Article 9 stipulates:

Each Party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance…The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding…freedom of religious worship, and tolerance…”

So why then did Jordan’s Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat on Saturday hold Israeli authorities “responsible for the mounting tension and violence in the holy compound” when it was three Arab terrorists who had murdered two Israeli policemen? Were his words in line with the peace treaty’s goals?

—————————-

I am not sure that those metal detectors will be in place by the time this is published but it would be a tragic error if Israel withdraws and retreats, not from any territory but simply from a logical decision based on security needs: for persons of all faiths on the Temple Mount, including tourists.

The Palestinian Authority Waqf forced Jordan to abandon the idea of 24-hour surveillance cameras, the King’s idea (although he had opposed it in 2013!) which Secretary Kerry had promoted enthusiastically and even Mahmoud Abbas didn’t oppose, at first. Those cameras perhaps could have prevented last week’s terror attack. The Palestine Arabs, once again, as in 1937 with the Peel Partition, in 1947’s UN  Partition Plan, Menachem Begin’s 1977 Autonomy idea, the 2000 Camp David II and 2008’s left behind map of Ehud Olmert, willingly sabotage any attempt to inject rationality and equity into the Arab conflict with Israel and Zionism.  They first and foremost threaten violence to achieve their political goals as since 1920’s Pesach Riot, the Waqf officials now are calling for mass prayers outside the compound and I presume that riots are their goal.

In 1929, they fabricated a Temple Mount “takeover” that led to 135 Jews killed and the slaughter in Hebron. Currently, they falsely promote the lie that “Al-Aqsa is in Danger”. Their unwillingness to acknowledge Jewish nationalism, their diplomatic rejectionism and their preference for violence as a strategic tool is what is wrong, not Jews seeking basic civil liberties.  We seek no less than Muslims themselves champion as, for example, their wish to pray at Cordoba’s Cathedral although we desire to obtain our rights through peaceful means.

If their posturing forces Israel to yield, there’ll be no end to the pressures at every turn.  Arabs need be taught, as patronizing as this may sound, that they are subject to the same rules as everybody else. To let the Arabs believe we are not truly convinced of our rights here in Jerusalem and at the Temple Mount will but compound Dayan’s error in 1967 which set the tone for their diplomacy since then, with the Temple Mount but a microcosm of the greater conflict.

_______

Yisrael Medad, Secretary of El Har Hashem (To the Mount of the Lord), is a member of the Temple Mount Activists Coordinating Committee

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
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK
07/19/2017
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
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK
07/05/2017
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.

^

June 21, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: A pen for hire

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:49 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: A pen for hire
By YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK
06/21/2017
The first edition of the free daily Israel Hayom hit our newsstands on July 30, 2007, almost 10 years ago. Its founding editor, Amos Regev, was replaced last month by Boaz Bismuth, who had served for nine years as the foreign news editor of the paper.

A new boss brings with him change and in this case, a spectacular change. Dan Margalit and Mordechai (Motti) Gilat, both long-time columnists, were summarily dismissed.

When it started, Israel Hayom was embarking on a revolution.

Its goal, which it met, was to replace the left-wing Yediot Aharonot newspaper and become the most widely read newspaper in Israel. To reach this goal, it had to prove that it was serious and had a stellar set of journalists.

Dan Margalit and Motti Gilat fulfilled that purpose.

The 79-year-old Margalit has had a stellar career.

While he began at Herut, the organ of Menachem Begin’s party, he went Left and wrote for Haaretz from 1964 until 1991 and continued at Maariv. His most famous scoop was the revelation in 1977 that then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin maintained an illegal bank account in the US. Forced to resign, Rabin’s replacement, Shimon Peres, lost to Menachem Begin.

Margalit’s career has been mainly that of a pundit and commentator and he has hosted numerous talk shows, notably Popolitika and Erev Chadash.

Margalit likes to portray himself as an ethical journalist, noting that when he realized that former prime minister Ehud Olmert was corrupt, he ended his 20-year friendship with him and started to regularly attack him in his articles. Indeed, Margalit is so enamored with himself that his tweet upon being fired was to characterize his job loss in terms of near-martyrdom: “My livelihood fell today in defense of freedom of speech.”

Margalit had been fired previously. Back in September 7, 2010, it was reported that his contract with the publicly funded Educational TV (ETV) network had not gone through the normal tender process. The Finance Ministry ordered Yaffa Vigodski, at that time the CEO of ETV, to terminate Margalit’s employment immediately since his contract did not conform to the norms of proper administration. His salary was reported to have been NIS 70,000 (Margalit claimed it was only NIS 35,000). Even Nahum Barnea of Yediot Aharonot could not refrain from asking in his column why Margalit received such a high sum from the state.

Globes reporter Eli Tzippori took Margalit to task over his freedom of speech comment. On June 16, he published an op-ed titled, “Dan Margalit is only concerned with Dan Margalit.” Tzippori, a recipient of Israel’s Media Watch’s prize for quality economic journalism, noted that Margalit was one of Israel’s richest journalists, who had made a small fortune from Israel’s public broadcasters, whether TV Channel 1 or the Educational TV. He added: “the attempt of Margalit to take for himself the defense of the freedom of expression is a sad symptom of the situation of a very elitist and limited group of journalists, which is very happy with itself and drunk with power, who thinks it has to govern and that it is responsible for liberalism, democracy and freedom of speech. The opposite is true.”

In this context, we should recall that Margalit had very little respect for the law of this land and its Supreme Court. In 1996, prior to the elections, he was the moderator of the Channel 1 Popolitika news show. Fairness was not his motto. Freedom of speech for those who disagreed with his view was not on the agenda. He used the show to consistently support the Oslo accords and to help Peres win the elections.

So much so that Israel’s Media Watch had to appeal to the Supreme Court to order the show to stop violating the law which prohibited such electioneering via public media shortly before elections. The court ordered an injunction but to no avail. Margalit used the show, after the court’s decision, to deride the court and of course continue his illegal and unethical usurpation of the public microphone.

Margalit is nine years past the age of retirement for government employees. Supreme Court justices and professors are pensioned at that age and do not complain. It is perhaps characteristic of Margalit that instead of being grateful to Israel Hayom for providing him a podium for the past 10 years, way beyond the normal pension age, he left in anger.

He accused the paper of preventing him from criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and indeed upon his dismissal he tweeted (on Friday, June 16): “I do believe Bibi [Netanyahu] that he decided not to be photographed in the ‘Herzl pose’ in Basel [a revelation of Ma’ariv journalist Ben Caspit]. But the fact that this possibility was even deliberated indicates megalomania. Maybe he should send Yair [Netanyahu’s son]?” Graciousness and fortitude seem not to be his forte.

Incidentally, Haaretz promptly rehired him; so much for his “sacrifice.”

A week after Margalit’s dismissal, another columnist, Motti Gilat, was also fired. Gilat worked for Yediot Aharonot from 1976 until 2008 when he joined Israel Hayom. He was an investigative journalist, highly regarded by Yediot, and was given a staff of investigators.

Indeed, while at Yediot he had some major successes. These included revelations concerning Shas leader Arye Deri in 1990, the sexual misconduct of former defense minister Yitzchak Mordechai in 2000, the illegal presents given to former Police chief Rafi Peled in 1995 and many more. Upon leaving Yediot for Israel Hayom he accused Yediot of censoring him and preventing criticism of politicians such as Olmert, who was supported by the paper. He sued Yediot and in a compromise agreement received NIS 600,000 from the paper.

Interestingly enough, during his nine years at Israel Hayom there was not one major revelation to his credit.

Perhaps this is why Israel Hayom fired him. Like Margalit, Gilat did not move out graciously, although he will be 70 years old in October, an age at which most people have already retired. Like Margalit, he too faulted the management of Israel Hayom for caving in to the paper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, and asserted he had even been warned, via corridor conversation rumors, that his critical writing against Netanyahu would cost him his job.

Gilat was replaced by Akiva Bigman, the editor of the Mida website, which describes itself as “a news and intellectual daily magazine, which aims to present the public with information and opinions not common in the Israeli media” and has openly declared itself part of the national camp, as does Bigman.

The release of Margalit and Gilat, both left-wingers, and the hiring of Bigman are a sign that Israel Hayom no longer feels the need to strengthen itself with the aid of left-wing journalists who can be bought, but has become mature enough to hire who it wants.

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