November 8, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Words and Weapons

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:40 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Words and Weapons
The tunnel in question was not built to provide Shabbat flowers to the Israelis living on the Gaza border.
In a recent article published in the academic journal Current Sociology, “Words don’t come easy,” Christopher Kyriakides, professor of Sociology at York University, Canada, deals with Al Jazeera’s 2015 decision to substitute “refugee” for “economic migrant” in its coverage of “the Mediterranean Migration Crisis.”

In academese, he writes that what happened was a “distancing of ‘migrant’ from ‘refugee’ in news content.” In other words, a media outlet intervened in a political, economic and diplomatic issue to contest a negative media representation. The broadcaster decided to override the language being used and substituted its own language, justifying the act as giving “a voice” to the people involved.

Kyriakides notes other media terms which have been the subject of academic critique, such as “the Arab” and “the Muslim” in the post-2001 era and, in general, media depictions of migrants, refugees and ethnic minority citizens. A “broadcaster’s self-professed ‘deorientalizing’ decision to ‘give voice’ by ‘challenging racism,’” he wrote, “is discursively delimited by the dominant European migration policy narrative.”

The decision to alter the semantics was deliberate. Al Jazeera’s English director of news, Salah Negm, decided not to “use the word ‘migrant’ any longer in this context. We will instead, where appropriate, say ‘refugee.’” As Barry Malone, online editor with Al Jazeera English explained, “at this network, we try hard through our journalism to be the voice of those people in our world who, for whatever reason, find themselves without one.”

Altering language to change a reality is standard practice. A newly formed and EU-funded organization, RespectWords, seeks to prevent Islamophobia in the media. In semi-Orwellian terms, its report, “Respect Words: Ethical Journalism Against Hate Speech,” suggests how to “rethink.”

It fears a “context-dehumanization” and seeks “the construction of new imagery.”

For example, in dealing with violence committed by some recent arrivals, the causes of it, the report suggests, include “colonialism, racism, [and] general social inequality” and there is “no structural connection between migration and terrorism.”

This paradigm is familiar and touches on a problem we have dealt with previously.

We would suggest that a parallel effort to RespectWords should be undertaken to review our situation here in Israel.

Consider, for example, the international terminology concerning the Western Wall. It is a section of the retaining wall to Herod’s enlargement of the Temple Mount.

For centuries it has been used by Jews from all over the world, for prayers, rejoicing, mourning and socializing. In Hebrew it is called “Hakotel Hama’aravi,” the Western Wall. It was also known as “Kotel Hadmaot,” the Wall of Tears, but Jews never called it “The Wailing Wall.” The poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg once wrote in a poem that “the Wall roars.”

Consider then The New York Times. A search this week of its website for “Western Wall Jerusalem” gives 1,781 hits. For “Wailing Wall Jerusalem” one finds only 716. In The Wall Street Journal the search gives 11 for “Western Wall Jerusalem” and none for “Wailing Wall Jerusalem.”

Is it just a coincidence that in Germany and Switzerland the ratio changes dramatically? At the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung one finds 434 entries for “Klagemauer Jerusalem” (“klagemauer” is the German version of “wailing”) but only 36 for “Westliche Mauer Jerusalem.” Similarly, for the Swiss Neue Zuericher Zeitung, one finds respectively 81 and two entries. German speakers seemingly prefer to relate to our holy place of worship as a complaints department.

When one of us raised this issue with a German-speaking journalist, we were told that it is senseless to use “Westliche Mauer” since the editors will change it to “Klagemauer.”

Returning to Israel, a new complaint about “cruel employment practices” has been leveled against the prime minister’s wife Sarah Netanyahu. Yediot Aharonot, no friend of the Netanyahus, decided to highlight the issue by describing the former employee as a “shifcha,” literally, a slave girl.

This appears to us to be low-level pandering, a nasty form of yellow journalism, especially as the woman’s request was to be reinstated. Did not the paper’s editor consider it curious that a “slave” would wish to return to her master? Shouldn’t he have avoided the term, or was he giving a voice to “those people in our world who, for whatever reason, find themselves without one”? Who is a traitor? In the aftermath of the November 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, it became politically incorrect to use the term “traitor” when discussing politicians.

But on October 27, Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer published a piece titled, “How Netanyahu Has Betrayed the Jews,” asserting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had recently “betrayed” Austria’s and Hungary’s Jews since he did not display solidarity with their concerns regarding local antisemitism. That paper’s Chemi Shalev also unashamedly used the term when in January 2016 he accused American Jews of “abandoning… betraying Israel itself” in not protesting what he claimed was a loss of democracy here.

One way to delegitimize your political foes is by the use of damning language.

Consider coalition head MK David Bitan.

It is no secret that he is a staunch supporter of the prime minister. Although we might personally not support his tactics, there is nothing even morally wrong in supporting the head of your political party. But for some the goal in life is to remove Netanyahu from office. Chemi Shalev’s op-ed on October 30 described MK Bitan as Netanyahu’s “hired gun.”

On October 29, on TV Channel 10, the PR man representing the new plaintiff against Sara Netanyahu, Arik Rosenthal, referred to Netanyahu’s attorneys as “hired guns.”

The purpose is obvious: Netanyahu and family are implicitly described as mobsters, who use hired guns to carry out the necessary political assassinations. Repeated frequently, the negative image sticks, and who knows, might even lead to dethroning the “Papa.”

Or take how headlines are composed.

On the day following Israel’s October 30 bombing of a Gaza tunnel, Haaretz published two stories. One, an analysis, was headlined “Israel’s Strike on Gaza Attack Tunnel Could Break Fragile Palestinian Status Quo.” The other was headlined, “Israel Destroys a Gaza Tunnel, Killing Militants.”

Of course we all know that the true headline should have been: “Israel Destroys Gaza Tunnel, Saving Israeli Lives.”

The tunnel in question was not built to provide Shabbat flowers to the Israelis living on the Gaza border. But when the aim of a newspaper is to delegitimize the State of Israel, anything goes.

Moreover, if Haaretz runs such a headline, how can we complain about the Guardian’s headline, “Israel destroys tunnel from Gaza, killing seven Palestinians”? Or Al Jazeera’s “Seven Palestinians killed as Israel strikes Gaza tunnel”? The year 1984 is long gone, but Orwell’s lesson, that the “aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought,” is still relevant.



October 10, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Media self-hosannas

Posted in Media, Uncategorized at 2:10 pm by yisraelmedad

Media comment: Media self-hosannas
The media, now under a sustained attack, by US President Donald Trump and other politicians seeking salvation from entrenched media bias, seems to be resorting to self-hosannas.
A central feature of the Succot holiday is the celebration of Hoshana Rabba, this year falling on Wednesday. Multiple prayers are recited while circling the platform where the Torah is read and most of these use the Hebrew word, hoshana (please save).

In the Christian tradition, the term was altered to be a shout of praise or adoration. In the books of the Gospels, it was expressed in recognition of the perceived messiahship of Jesus upon his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The media, now under a sustained attack, by US President Donald Trump and other politicians seeking salvation from entrenched media bias, seems to be resorting to self-hosannas. They repeat claims that they are the guardians of democracy, that they are fair and ethical and that any errors of theirs are unintentional. If the media is criticized, their response can be quite vicious.

For example, Lisa Ling, formerly of ABC and now CNN, admitted in a recent interview with that “When a free press is being criticized from the highest levels and characterized as being fake and being muzzled, it screams fascism. That’s not to say that bona fide news sources might not make mistakes here and there, but… we’re reliant on our legitimate news sources to do what they can to tell the truth and report the facts.”

Of course, there may be a question over just what is a “legitimate” news source, just as some may doubt if all editorial procedures were followed, foremost, fact-checking and cross-referencing sources. In essence, that is just the point.

If mainstream media, the so-called ‘defenders of democracy,’ are seen to make too many errors, to constantly repeat the same errors and the same types of errors, to consistently show bias detrimental to, more often than not, one side of the political spectrum, shouldn’t that be considered to be fascism of a different order? The press has always prided itself on bringing down governments over the decades in many countries around the world. Why then, when it is attacked, does it need to play the victim? Is it so powerless?

The BBC’s former political editor Nick Robinson, currently The Today program presenter, has noted, “Alternative news sites are waging a ‘guerrilla war’ against the BBC in an attempt to promote their own editorial agenda.” These sites are both on the Left as well as on the Right and, to Robinson, their criticism of BBC journalists and others “was so persistent that it was negatively affecting public perceptions of mainstream media.”

While this may be the case, another angle is that, quite simply, mainstream media does not, and should not, hold a monopoly over the news.

Mainstream media needs to be diverse and pluralistic. It would seem to be quite logical that if the public feels that not to be the case, other media outlets will benefit.

Robinson, however, adds a sinister aspect to the problem, writing that the critics “need to convince people not to believe ‘the news’” and this is “part of a guerrilla war being fought on social media day after day and hour after hour.”

Probably the most outstanding incident highlighting this trend of criticism involved his successor as BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg.

She needed to be accompanied by a security guard at a Labour party conference after receiving threats. Moreover, a petition that accused her of being biased against the Labour Party was launched but later withdrawn as it turned into a “focal point for sexist and hateful abuse” against her.

Robinson also asserted that trust in the UK media was declining.

He blamed this on the “increased polarization of our society and the increased use – particularly by the most committed and most partisan – of social media and alternatives to what they call the MSM, the mainstream media.”

ROBINSON ALSO urges the broadcaster to promote and celebrate its impartiality, potentially by publishing the BBC’s so-called “producers’ guidelines” that outlines how its news coverage should be impartial, and by revealing discussions and decisions at editorial meetings.

His message was a bit undercut, to use British understatement, when it was revealed that the chief executive of Impress, the sole government- approved press watchdog, concluded in an internal report that he had brought the organization into disrepute. He had, it emerged, shared messages on Twitter that were critical of two newspapers, including posts comparing one’s editorial position with fascism, and content promoting a campaign to stop companies advertising in them.

Impress was designed to protect British journalism, while dealing “with the challenges of the digital age.” It promised to provide the public “with the reassurance that they can rely on the news sources that inform them, entertain them and represent their interests.”

Here in Israel, the media consuming public is woefully unsupported by regulators (as described for example in our Sept. 14 column “Keep Channel 20 on”). While adopting an overly strict approach toward that channel’s airing news rather than only cultural content, the same regulator acted quite differently when it came to television broadcasting on Yom Kippur.

As this paper’s Amy Spiro reported on September 27, the law, as per a Communications Ministry regulation, is that TV and radio broadcasts cannot be aired during Yom Kippur. However, Dr. Yifat Ben-Chai Segev, chairperson of the Cable and Satellite Commission, in a Haaretz newspaper interview, indicated that if the HOT or Yes cable networks were to request open VOD access on Yom Kippur, she would immediately convene the council to discuss the issue.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) felt that he must intervene.

In a statement three days before the fast was to be begin, Kara, a Druse we point out, declared, “Yom Kippur for us in the Communications Ministry is the holiest of holies, and – just like the country has been doing for 70 years – we will continue this year to keep the status quo.” He even spoke with Segev and relayed that “to my delight the council received my position and will act accordingly.”

It is true that today journalists are under intense pressures, foremost from their fellow guild members. The pummeling that self-declared right-winger Shimon Riklin of Channel 20 receives is enormous. The past experiences of a religious soldier serving in the Galatz radio studios were nigh horrendous. But there is pressure from within the political establishment as well.

In a YouTube clip, British Labour MP Dennis Skinner is seen berating – the clip calls it “schooling” – a journalist, browbeating the young man actually. We hear “why don’t you understand that you are part of society… It’s time that you understood that you’re not somebody outside the perimeter. You’re involved… But somehow, you people connected to the television [and] media, you think you’re above it all. You’re not! You’re more and more like Trump. You’re vain! Conceited!”

Indeed, too many journalists are vain and conceited. Yet even they do need at times to be protected from the wrath of politicians just as much as they need to accept criticism at face value rather than been indignant and self-aggrandizing.

When that day comes, we too will say Hosanna.


September 28, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Some suggestions for media penitence

Posted in Media, Uncategorized tagged at 7:43 am by yisraelmedad

Some suggestions for media penitence

As Maimonides has taught us, the first phase of repentance is the realization that an error was made. Admitting error is acceptable in some media organs.


We in Israel, and in the Jewish world, are in the midst of that 10-day period known as the Days of Penitence that opened with Rosh Hashana (and was preceded by the recitation of the Selichot prayers) and will be sealed with the fast of Yom Kippur. There is no better time for all of us, including our media, to consider the past year and take upon ourselves to try and improve during the new one.

As Maimonides has taught us, the first phase of repentance is the realization that an error was made. Admitting error is acceptable in some media organs. Without any relation to Yom Kippur, in England this past week the BBC publicly reprimanded Adam Rutherford, the presenter of Radio 4’s Inside Science broadcast. He had used his Twitter account to call on his followers to write to their local MPs about the reappointment of Graham Stringer, a climate change skeptic, to a parliamentary committee.

The BBC’s editorial standards team stated that this “potentially compromised the BBC’s impartiality.”

Rutherford was informed that he was committed, as an employee, to certain responsibilities as to how to use social media. In his name, the corporation informed the public that Rutherford now regretted the tweets and “accepts that he needs to consider carefully how his other published views might impact on his BBC work, and if necessary take advice from his editor at the BBC.”

It is easy to go through our articles of the past year, which pointed out all too often media excesses, error or bias. But we are not naïve – in most issues our media will not really agree with or accept the accusations against it. So we will consider in this article some issues we believe all of us could agree on.

Consider something as simple as terminology.

Early on in his position as adviser to prime minister Menachem Begin, the late Shmuel Katz, sent a request to the Israel Broadcasting Authority regarding terminology. He asked them to assure that their news reports, except when quoting external sources, referred to “Judea and Samaria” rather than the “territories” (shtachim) or “West Bank.”

Judea and Samaria are the heart of the historic Land of Israel mentioned in the Bible. They were referred to as such even in the description of the United Nations’ 1947 Partition Plan boundaries.

The term “Judea and Samaria” appears on medieval European maps. Calling them “territories” is equivalent to negating a person’s name and referring to her or him as “it.” It is like referring to the Temple Mount as “Haram al-Sharif” or replacing Jerusalem with “al-Quds.”

The sources of erroneous terminology are many. Some have to do with ignorance. Unfortunately, too many Israelis have not been exposed in schools to our heritage and the biblical history of this land. They simply do not know better.

After all, the whole world relates to Judea and Samaria as “territories” or “occupied territories.”

Why should our young up-and-coming Israeli journalists, well versed in Western ways, even realize the error? For others, terminology is but another way to express ideology. Some journalists will not use the words “Judea and Samaria,” as part of an attempt to alter history.

Shmuel Katz’s request was not honored. In this context it is a pleasure to note that The Jerusalem Post has lately officially changed its style and the names Judea and Samaria appear frequently.

We would respectfully suggest that our media remain true to history and refer to Judea and Samaria in their historical context.

Wrong or misleading terminology is not limited to designation of land. Another, related term is “mekomi’im,” or locals. Somehow, Jews living in these localities, many of them for decades, are never considered “locals.” The term is reserved solely for Arabs.

A foreigner coming to Israel will quickly understand that Israel’s people are strangely distributed.

There are simply no leftists here. “Peace activists” abound but extreme leftists do not exist. Extremists here come only from the Right.

As Wendy Lu suggested in the Columbia Journalism Review September 5 issue, media people should get “rid of words that assume a negative relationship. Use neutral language.” The Reuters journalism handbook also requires that “our language should be neutral.” In the spirit of Yom Kippur, we suggest that the media discontinue using the term “extremist,” period. Name-calling does not contribute to positive dialogue. Identify an individual’s ideological position, if relevant, but nothing additional. Extremity is in the eyes of the beholder, it is not objective. There are no well-established criteria for when one is or is not an “extremist.”

A central source of mutual disrespect in journalism nowadays is social media. Once upon a time, there were bars where journalists gathered and talked to each other. Discussions were probably often heated, but did not become part of the public discourse. Nowadays, discussions take place via Twitter. There, the language, nature and nonsensicality of the discourse of journalists among themselves is astounding. In the spirit of Yom Kippur, we will not name names, but suggest that journalists use a modicum of self-restraint before lashing out on social media.

In Canada, CBC News recently had occasion to deal with the issue of journalists lashing out on Twitter. In March this year, Jennifer McGuire, head of CBC News, said that defining “the line between analysis and opinion, and who gets to express those views” was – as she put it – a “challenge.”

Confronting demands for impartiality on the issues of the day, the CBC code denies its journalists the right to “express their own personal opinion because it affects the perception of impartiality and could affect an open and honest exploration of an issue.”

However, McGuire then wriggled right out of this constraint by viewing “an observation based on the facts of the issue… as analysis, [which] isn’t the same as a view that comes out of left field without supporting arguments, or in other words, opinion.”

In October 2014, then New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet observed that “[o]ne of the biggest criticisms aimed at my generation of editors is that we created a priesthood, that we decided who was a journalist and who was not….

As I observe the criticism nowadays, you will forgive me for noting that it sounds like a new priesthood is being created, with new rules for entry.”

In Israel, the “priesthood” is called “the branja,” the elitist guild. Too often in our history, especially during the Second Temple period, our priests took to infighting instead of positive causes. We call upon our modern-day “priests”: use your position responsibly. Use terminology carefully. Our sages admonished us: “silence is a signature of wise people.” Please use your social media sparingly and in good taste. Perhaps these little things will help all of us have more trust in the media.


September 13, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Keep Channel 20 on

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:35 pm by yisraelmedad

Keep Channel 20 on
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? 


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
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

August 16, 2017

MEDIA COMMENT: Netanyahu, first blame yourself

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:51 pm by yisraelmedad

MEDIA COMMENT: Netanyahu, first blame yourself
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
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


Posted in Uncategorized at 11:18 pm by yisraelmedad


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

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