Opinion |

Israeli Journalist Ilana Dayan Swallowed Netanyahu’s Bait Hook, Line and Sinker

Responses on the left prove that the findings in her investigative report are no longer relevant – Netanyahu reads this nation better than the media.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan.Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90, Tali Meir
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

Ilana Dayan’s investigative report on the conduct of Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau is dead. It’s no longer relevant. Its findings will not be quoted. No one is talking about them.

Netanyahu’s response was the bait. Dayan swallowed it whole. As soon as she read it verbatim everyone turned to discussing it. Now Netanyahu’s response is the subject of attention. It’s all that remains of the opening episode of “Uvda,” Dayan’s weekly TV feature. Does this benefit the public? Does it serve a purpose, assuming that the purpose is to increase public awareness of journalistic critique of Netanyahu’s governance? Of course not. Twitter responses and leftist remarks on Facebook celebrated Netanyahu’s response.

In the monolithic world of the left and on social media this response was seen as one more incisive proof of the prime minister’s insanity, a clear marker that he’s losing it, losing his senses and his grip on power. But this world is totally disconnected from the public. Netanyahu is correct when he makes this claim.

Does anyone really believe that among Netanyahu supporters, among his voters, people supporting his coalition, the ones who voted for Habayit Hayehudi and Shas and Lieberman, his response was perceived as an anti-democratic text, as a “seminal moment” in the annals of Israeli media, as testimony to his persecution of the media out of paranoid motives?

It’s obvious that this is not the case. Most of the Jewish public in Israel agrees with Netanyahu that the media is leftist, and thus listened attentively to his diatribe against Dayan, which she meticulously read, word for word. She may have thought that Netanyahu had inflicted a self-injury with his response, but the truth is that he had harmed her.

Again and again the left makes the mistake of taking Netanyahu for a fool. The truth is that he’s much more sophisticated than most of his critics. He understands this nation better than most media people. The last election proved again that people don’t like the media’s attacks on Netanyahu. They perceive them as political persecution. These attacks work as a boomerang which only strengthens his standing among his supporters. This will also happen with the investigate report which opened the season of Uvda, the report that was totally forgotten as soon as Dayan read out Netanyahu’s response.

I don’t know what effective way the media has to convince the right-wing public that Netanyahu is trying to censor and silence the media, and that this poses a risk to democracy. There may be no way of achieving this. It may be time to realize that Netanyahu will succeed in establishing right-wing media outlets here that favor him and his vision, and concord with public sentiment. One thing is certain: The topic of conversation in Israel Tuesday was not “did you see Ilana Dayan’s report on Netanyahu’s bureau? Wow, this guy has to go!” If the right-wing public was even mindful of Uvda on Monday, the conversation on Tuesday was “did you see how Netanyahu let her have it?”

Leftist feedback was calling Dayan “a queen” Tuesday morning. Only a few months ago it called her a traitor after a report on human rights activist Ezra Nawi. The left is fickle, herd-like and fond of lynches. Netanyahu supporters are much less fickle. They didn’t call her a traitor before and aren’t calling her “a queen” now. They care much less about her than one might imagine, just like they don’t care about the new broadcasting corporation. They do care about the witch hunt waged against extreme leftists – they are for it. They will allow Netanyahu to do to the media exactly what he aspires to.

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