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If Yair Netanyahu Were a Journalist

Anat Kamm
Anat Kamm
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Yair Netanyahu.
Yair Netanyahu.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Anat Kamm
Anat Kamm

The media world is marking the 50th anniversary of the Watergate scandal this month, the most famous investigative report in history, a tour de force of courageous and biting journalism at The Washington Post that also lent the suffix “gate” to every storm in a Twitter teacup. This week also marked the 51st anniversary of the first report, in The New York Times, on the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the administration’s lies to the American public regarding the war in Vietnam. Thus, how symbolic it is that this week a club of journalistic luminaries including the Post’s Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Ben Bradlee, and The Times’ Neil Sheehan has been joined by media presenter and pundit Yair Netanyahu, who on Monday announced he had received his press card from the Government Press Office.

Netanyahu the Younger presents a weekly radio program on Galey Yisrael and has a column published occasionally on the niche site ICE. His main platform for expressing his opinion in Israel is Twitter, where he has some 135,000 followers. A brief look shows that Netanyahu the Younger doesn’t spare his rod from the Israeli media. However, even if it is clear he isn’t objective, his terminology is exceptional in its pugnacity.

Thus, for example, he wrote to investigative journalist Kalman Liebskind – who has a weekly column in Ma’ariv, moderates a current events program on the Kan network and is not exactly far left – concerning the trial of his father, Benjamin Netanyahu: “Is there no chance of getting any comment from you about the horrors and the facts coming to light *these days* about trumped-up cases against the head of the national camp, the trampling of human and civil rights in this country and the criminal coup perpetrated here in recent years by the media and the State Prosecutor’s Office, ah?” Criminal coup, no less.

Of diplomatic correspondent and commentator Barak Ravid, the press novice wrote that he is an example of “the rotten Israeli media” because he dared to refer to the Palestinian peace activist Saeb Erekat “of blessed memory,” but didn’t use that phrasing about his father’s munificent buddy, the late casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. In June 2020 he tweeted “Before I opened Twitter, I knew that the media people in Israel are extreme leftists, communists, anti-Zionists and evil. To my astonishment, since I opened Twitter I have discovered they are also really, really, really stupid! Toad-brains, and I am being complementary here!” All the “reallys” are in the original.

In the tweet accompanying the display of his press card, the potential Sokolov Prize for Journalism laureate wrote: “Dear leftists, take note – from now on when you attack me you are attacking a journalist. According to your usual mantra, attacking a journalist is the worst thing possible, is dangerous incitement and undermines democracy’s foundations, no?” Possibly young Netanyahu sees himself as a journalist because he once wrote for and is regularly interviewed by Breitbart – the only U.S. media outlet that he believes loves Israel and the Jews. The website is identified with Steve Bannon, the crooked mind behind the phenomenon known as Donald Trump, and is an extreme-right, hate-ridden platform that operates only thanks to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech.

There’s something embarrassing about Yair Netanyahu’s attempts to get accepted to a club he works day and night to malign. However, the problem is deeper: When an official press card is given to an individual who has never done a day’s journalistic work in his life, when that person’s résumé is presenting on local radio for two hours a week and a column on an obscure website, when he provides “analysis” to American alt-right websites and when just recently he boasted that he “earns a living by ‘subliminal advertising on social networks’ (Instagram influencers – Here’s lookin’ at you, kids!) – it means that the state of Israel itself is subverting the institution of journalism. At least daddy Benjamin can at long last be proud of his boy.

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