Opinion

Top Israeli Journalist Amit Segal Is a Coward (From a Legal Perspective)

Journalist Amit Segal at a government conference, Tel Aviv, February 27, 2019.
Moti Milrod

When we were kids and we would fight over something silly, we would stop talking to one another. But after a while, when the need to communicate overcame us, we would address each other by prefacing each sentence with the word “qullalo” (“tell him”), as if some third party was mediating between us.

This is how the exchange would go: “Qullalo, tell him that I’m going to the forest. Does he want to come?” And the other would answer, “Qullalo, yes, let him wait until I put on my shoes.” That’s how the conversation would continue, mediated by the word qullalo, until the dynamic of our activity would dominate and without noticing, of course, we’d begin addressing each other directly, and the friction between us would evaporate.

Channel 12 News reporter Amit Segal is behaving in a similarly childish fashion regarding the agreement he signed with the Balad party under the auspices of the court. One can assume that he isn’t satisfied with what was imposed on him. When Segal gets reminded about his declaration under the agreement, that Balad is not a terror organization as he had claimed in the past, he gets infuriated.

Along with his insults, like his calling journalist Nati Tucker a “court Jew,” Segal explains that Balad is not a terror organization “from a legal perspective,” as noted in his declaration. This phrase, “from a legal perspective,” plays the role that “qullalo” did in our childhood.

But while “qullalo” aimed to break the ice and normalize relations, adding the phrase “from a legal perspective” is merely a clever transparency, a broad hint that Segal’s heart isn’t really in the declaration he was forced to make, which is why he gets furious at anyone who reminds him of it and forgets to add, “from a legal perspective.”

But the question here is about the credibility of Segal, who is one of the country’s most influential broadcasters. If Segal thinks Balad isn’t a terror organization, he should express regret for the serious incitement of his earlier remarks. But if he still thinks Balad is a terror organization, then it would be better if he shouted it out loud and paid the price – since it’s his obligation to warn against the danger.

“From a legal perspective” or not, the Arab population is paying the price of Segal’s baseless incitement. As I understand it, the “from a legal perspective” addendum means that there’s another perspective that’s not strictly legal for determining whether an organization is a terror group. One can wonder if Balad is a terror organization from a “romantic” perspective, or a “moral” perspective. Or perhaps Balad is a terror group from a “patriotic” perspective? Right-wingers stumble over their words when they try to square the circle.

In Amit Segal’s position one might expect him to be more cautious, to weigh his words more carefully, since he’s in a sensitive situation – after all, any word he says about terror could be responded to by pointing to his own family tree. Though he’s not responsible for it, he is still the son of a man, Haggai Segal, who was convicted and imprisoned for terrorist activity.

It would thus behoove the younger Segal to keep his distance from any mention of terror, because he’s the last person to preach morality on this issue. Before preaching to others about matters of terror, he must make some clear and vehement denunciation of his father’s actions, because otherwise his arguments look most tendentious. It’s unfortunate that this talented man doesn’t have the courage and honesty to deal with his situation. In fact, he is doing exactly the opposite.

I’m also addressing this matter due to the inundation of extreme rightists flooding our television networks. One wonders if the plan is to empty the screen of any critical or objective thought. And I also wonder why they have the right to speak and the Arabs don’t. Aren’t there any Arabs who can surpass the level of these right-wing spokesmen, even more so when they are serving as the rightists’ punching bags?