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Across Israeli Media There's No Microphone for Left-wingers

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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A couple hold Israeli flags during a protest against the government and the corruption, at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 2, 2020.
A couple hold Israeli flags during a protest against the government and the corruption, at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 2, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The Israeli left has no mainstream broadcast. Flick through the TV channels, listen to all the broadcasts, watch all the programs, and you won’t find a single left-wing one.

Right-wing presenters are competing with one another in their complaints about short-changing and silencing, but that’s the tried and true extortionist method of the right: to lament and take control, in the media as in the settlements. Right- and left-wing programs are internal discussions of the right, an undisguised right-winger argues with a disguised one, together they mark the boundaries of debate.

Occasionally they bring another voice, as a curiosity, but in the entire media environment, not including niche sites, there is not a single left-wing broadcast, a place where they regularly and seriously discuss the crimes of the occupation, human rights, the violation of international law, the pursuit of asylum seekers, the shortchanging of Israeli Arabs and genuine diplomatic solutions.

The left does not have a single MSM program, dissidence has no voice. I have great respect for right-wing news presenters Erel Segal and Kalman Liebskind. The cancellation of their news program “Kan 11” by the Public Broadcasting Corporation is a regrettable and even infuriating event. “Kalman and Segal” was a place that was open to all opinions, its decent, wise and knowledgeable hosts knew how to ask all the questions and listen to all the answers, even those that infuriated them. They were more liberal than all the middle-of-the-road presenters, the so-called leftists, on the commercial channels.

Compared to all the ignorant and cynical broadcasts, the nonsense and the distractions, “Kalman and Segal” gleamed with a rare light on Israeli television, which is woefully corrupting and stupefying. They will be missed, but their opinion won’t disappear and their voice has not been silenced.

The Israeli media is neither left nor right. It’s a conscripted media, an indentured servant of the mainstream Zionist, propagandistic, establishment opinion, the spirit of the times, whatever doesn’t make anyone too angry. The thundering, brainwashing voice of Zionism, along with the entertainment and consumer news, is the occupation’s greatest collaborator.It has a large number of liberal left-wing reporters, until recently they were even the majority, but it has far more cowardly reporters, and therefore the opinions that are hidden deep inside their hearts, their worldview and the ballot they inserted at the polls are of no significance. Most of them align themselves with the wishes of their master – the consumer, the editor and the publisher.

To say that the media is left-wing is the joke of the century. Look how the media outlets cover the occupation and the settlements, how they adopt every official position, how they repeat what the defense establishment dictates to them, how they adopt the national euphemisms that cover up all the crimes. See how they still worship the army, its commanders and its weapons, in spite of all the years, the wars and the failures.

The Israeli left has no program that will present another opinion. Liebskind competes with Segal over who is more right-wing, right-wing ideologue Aryeh Eldad competes with Ben Caspit, who competes with Yinon Magal, who competes with Shimon Riklin; Army Radio host Yaakov Bardugo competes with Yaakov Bardugo. It’s so funny that it’s sad. This is not a matter of representation. The media is not a legislature, and it does not have to represent anything but the truth. It only has to fulfill its role, to report, to tell a story, to criticize and to be thought-provoking, and it is betraying that role. When virtually the only debate centers on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when the annexation gives rise to a yawn and the siege in Gaza gives rise to a hiccup, the media plays a decisive part in that.

It’s a hero when it comes to opposing Netanyahu, but bends with disgraceful submission in the face of the tyranny of its consumers, who have so many things that they don’t want to know. It’s a test case of journalism, and it’s failing the test. The voice of Liebskind and Segal will yet be heard, only the voice of the dissident left has long since been silenced.

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