What Threatens Israel’s Media?
By Moshe Feiglin
The main item on the agenda of State Radio Channel 2 this Sunday was Channel 10’s apology to Sheldon Adelson. (Editor’s note: Some months ago, Channel 2 News broadcasted a lengthy report accusing billionaire and founder of the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Yisrael Hayom, Sheldon Adelson, of illegally gaining rights to build a casino. The report turned out to be false and the station was forced to broadcast an apology. The media claimed that the Channel 10 stockholders, who feared financial repercussions by Adelson, coerced the staff to apologize). Karen Noibach also devoted precious air time to performer Yehudah Pollicker. On Israel Army Radio they talked about the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Afterwards the two stations switched stories.
The day before those broadcasts, an Egyptian mob had burned Israel’s embassy in Egypt. Six Israelis were extricated from there by the skins of their teeth, with just one door separating them from the Egyptian rabble that threatened to tear them to pieces. In response, Netanyahu thanked the Egyptians for the rescue and Obama for something, although it is not clear what. He promised that Israel will build an embassy in a safer place and reiterated that peace with Egypt is an important asset and that we will also find the way to re-establish our relations with Turkey.
There is no doubt about it. Israeli society and its leaders are still wallowing deep in the peace mentality; peace with Egypt, Oslo peace with the Palestinians and deep faith in the Americans. They cannot discern that the emperor has no clothes. They continue to cheer his royal attire and to alter their policies to fit those illusory garments.
It really is wrong for a journalist to tailor his stand to the position of big money just to ensure a successful career. But what is much worse is that a journalist who wishes to progress to the upper echelons of Israeli media must hide his nationalist views. Journalistic servitude to money is nothing compared to journalistic servitude to ideology. The journalists presently raising the roof over freedom of broadcast are the last – really the last – to talk.
Perhaps the best example of the media tyranny in Israel is not to look at what the media choose to broadcast, but what they choose not to broadcast. The very fact that on the day after Israel’s embassy in Cairo was burned, the Adelson agenda is what the media chose to hammer into our heads is proof that something is seriously wrong. Around us, the nations are declaring war on Israel and the media is shouting that the sky has fallen because someone has forced them to apologize – truly a major threat to Israel’s existence.
I do not know if the media intentionally plan not to analyze what is happening around Israel in depth and not to reconsider the entire misconception of peace with Egypt and the surrender of Sinai. I do not know if they are burying our collective head in the sand because they understand the situation and are trying to hide it or because they do not understand at all. One way or the other, they have failed miserably.
I have also felt the strong arm of Sheldon Adelson and the private newspaper that he established. (What can I do? I do not always stand by Netanyahu). Nevertheless, I can only rejoice at the fact that somebody has understood the importance of opening Israel’s media to additional voices, and has invested the required funds to do so. The media have noticeably improved since Adelson’s paper has been published. They are much more balanced. Radical leftist Gabi Gazit, for example, no longer works at the radio station that pretends to be public and objective.
There is still no visible connection between Israel’s media and the ideological and moral make-up of Israeli society that is expressed in the results of the elections, for example. Nevertheless, Adelson can chalk up success in the fact that the media in Israel today are in a much better place than they were before the Expulsion from Gush Katif.