The latest alarm: The Israeli media – in other words, Israeli democracy! – is fighting for its life. And who is threatening this life? The antidemocratic right, of course, headed by the prime minister, a well-known persecutor of journalists.
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It’s true that the influence of the press is on the decline, but the prime minister’s influence on the process is secondary. It is being led, first and foremost, by the media itself; the media that overplays events in many areas, especially in its overly zealous pursuit of its political rivals. A growing number of Israelis see it as a group that rather than seeking justice, is seeking the head of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
That’s why the more revelations there are of suspicions against him, the more his position is actually strengthened and the more public confidence in the media continues to deteriorate. It’s true that Netanyahu attacks journalists by means unworthy of a prime minister, but most of the public, those primitive people, actually support his reactions to Raviv Drucker and Ilana Dayan. These important journalists, who recently have provided us mainly with recycled merchandise (thereby proving their bias), should ask themselves: Maybe we’re also responsible, even if only slightly, for the harsh reactions against us among the public?
Many Israelis still remember how those who are burrowing through Netanyahu’s garbage cans (which really do stink, even though no proof has been found in them of actual criminal acts), stood like a fortified wall to defend former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the famous tzadik (righteous man). Since that is the case, even if a smoking gun is found, the public will interpret is as a conspiracy. That is the inevitable punishment for a biased media, and for all of us.
After all, without a media whose findings are accepted as credible and absent political subjectivity or personal vengeance, the corrupt people, who no longer fear the media, will be able to continue with their thefts and harassments.
A witch hunt is also being conducted against former Givati Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter. It’s not only (or also) about the skullcap and the unnecessary call-up order during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Leading media personalities are hostile to the officer who encourages contact [with the enemy], decisive action and victory, as Winter proved. Their heroes are officers who warn against the “slippery slope” and during Israel Defense Forces trips to Poland compare the one-time IDF war crime in Kafr Qasem to Nazi crimes in the Holocaust (I have evidence of that).
There is no question that Winter made a mistake when he delayed informing the Military Police Investigation Unit about the sexual harassment affair in the Tzabar Battalion. But the objective of the plucked arrows aimed at him this week by the Channel 10 investigative news program Hamakor, years after former battalion commander Liran Hajbi was punished, is clear: to stop the promotion of one of the outstanding combat officers serving in the army today. The man is simply being persecuted, and not only in the media.
We have bad memories of the bizarre conference conducted “in his honor” without his presence at the Israel Democracy Institute, where they attacked his personality and the call-up order that he distributed on the eve of going into battle. None of the participants, the cream of the Israeli intelligentsia, remarked: My friends, we are burning someone at the stake here without having given him, or someone on his behalf, an opportunity to speak.
I have no illusions that my words will fall on sympathetic ears. The lust for the hunt is profound. No rationale, not even one that proves that the hunters are harming mainly their own personal and professional prestige – and the public interest whose name they take in vain – will bring them to recognize the damage that they are causing to the status of the press in Israel. The self-righteous content of the ad supporting Raviv Drucker, which was published today, provides a clear explanation as to why its status is at such a nadir.