A Flagship of Israeli Journalism Joins the Ranks of False Propaganda

The investigative TV program ‘Uvda’ should be ashamed of the report it aired which depicted human rights activists as dangerous, while ignoring the occupation.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Ezra Nawi.
Social activist Ezra Nawi, Jerusalem Magistrate Court, October 10, 2009.Credit: Emil Salman
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Channel 2’s investigative television program “Uvda” (“Fact”) broadcast its 600th show last week, paying homage to itself by reminding us of a few of its greatest moments.

But the 600th show itself is something it will want to erase from its memory, something it will be embarrassed about some day.

It marked the passage from intentionally avoiding dealing with the issue of the occupation, which could anger the viewers and reduce ratings, to actively contributing to propaganda and incitement. The fig leaf withered away in the 600th program. As did the loss of any semblance of fairness and professionalism.

In a report on left-wing groups which operate in the West Bank, Uvda aired secretly recorded footage of Israeli activist Ezra Nawi saying that he had exposed Palestinian land brokers who sold West Bank land to Jews, and turned them over to the Palestinian Authority.The right wing and the settlers celebrated the event of course. Another outpost has fallen into their hands. They have already compared the left-wing activist Nawi to the Duma murderers, no less. The rightists and settlers, known for their deep concern about the lives of Palestinians, were shocked by Nawi’s statements. But the right is not the story. The story is how a lethal virus has penetrated what is almost the last outpost of real journalism.

How has a McCarthyist right-wing organization, whose motives are clear (and despicable) and whose sources are unknown, succeeded with such ease in enticing such respected journalists as Ilana Dayan and Omri Assenheim? How has this flagship joined the ranks of the false propaganda which masquerades as journalism?

That is how to conduct delegitimization. That is how it is done to liberal organizations in the darkest of regimes, and now here too, and on Uvda – no less.

Presenting the human rights organizations as dangerous groups, and penetrating them, is compared to penetrating ISIS. The McCarthyists are glorified, depicted as heroes of Israel who excelled in battles in Gaza. All these are well-known ploys. And against this background, all that is left is to record Nawi boasting, to catch him uttering the taboo words, to present him as a “senior” activist, to ignore the entire context — the crimes of the occupation and the expulsion form the Southern Hebron Hills, which you never heard about on Uvda. Just ignore the holy work done by left-wing activists in this battered region, spice it with a few lies such as “execution” by the Palestinian Authority, add a few generalizations, suspicions and slander – and the dish is ready.

There is an “investigation.” Ofir Akunis and Miri Regev are already calling for a trial. In normal times such actions should trouble every advocate of journalism. When the witch hunt is at its height, those who support democracy should lose sleep. Why did Uvda do this? Because there is no show better at adapting itself to the spirit of the times — its secret of survival for over 22 years. And when the times are dark, Uvda too is in the darkness. How characteristic and self-righteous are the confessions of the talented Assenheim on the show’s Facebook page: On the day of the broadcast he wrote: “I am considered a leftist. Israeli patriot, maybe more than ever, but a leftist.”

That is how it is when the ground is burning under your feet, and you somehow need to save your lost honor. A “leftist” who does not see what the settlers are plotting every day there, in the place where he “revealed” Nawi’s “crimes,” where activists and soldiers need to accompany children to school out of fear of violence.

The women activists of Machsom Watch offer humanitarian aid to those driven from the Jordan Valley; B’Tselem reports the truth about every killing in the West Bank, and documents for Israelis what is being done in their name; Physicians for Human Rights delivers medical care every week to those who have none; and Anarchists Against the Wall participates every week with unbelievable dedication in righteous protests.

They are the last moral lighthouse of Israel. They are the insignificant minority that preserves the remnants of Israel’s honor in the world. The right has declared despicable war against them. Now Uvda has joined them. The curtain falls.

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