Who Cares About the Facts

When the discussion is motivated by shallow political 'ratings,' the possibility of having an argument, based on the actual merits or shortcomings of the decision, has become impossible.

“It will be impossible to erase this moral and professional stain, despite the fact that the Supreme Court and the media stood by her side. Dayan knows that she has lost the public’s trust.” No less, concluded Israel Harel writing on February 17 of the results of the Supreme Court decision in the libel case of Captain R. against journalist Ilana Dayan. ‏(In her investigative program “Uvda” ‏(“Fact”‏) Dayan implied that R. shot and killed a Palestinian girl at close range. In a reversal of a lower court ruling, the Supreme Court acquitted her of libel.‏)

But there is nothing like Harel’s words to sum up the right-wing settlers’ attempt to reshape public views.

Who cares about the facts? Harel can write partial details and descriptions unconnected to any context without blinking, as long as he marks out the expected territory: Dayan and the entire media ‏(including the president of the Israeli Press Council and former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner‏) are leftists who hate their nation, hate the army, and hate the Jews. But the hero, Captain R., and Judge Noam Solberg are saints. Who said what and who did what − that’s not important. The image is the message.

This division, which refuses to recognize the fine details or the real events, and ignores the explicit words of the court decisions, actually does an ironic injustice to Justice Solberg. Harel forgot, it seems, that in his decision of the District Court, Solberg determined that “there was no malice in the report against the plaintiff or against the IDF in the preparation of the report.” “Dayan did not want to harm the plaintiff, blacken his character and defame his soldiers. Considerations of publicity and ratings also were not what motivated her,” wrote Solberg. “An anti-IDF position did not motivate Dayan to pursue the story.” And the Supreme Court added: “The previous court also did not accept Captain R.’s claims that the story was edited in a biased and distorted manner.”

This was not by accident. Harel knows very well that it is better to ignore the facts, as did all those who enthusiastically defamed Dayan. After all is said and done, there is one fact that is impossible to erase even if the reality is twisted in a thousand ways: A 13-year-old girl with a schoolbag on her back passed by an IDF position, she was recognized as a child and nonetheless was shot and killed. Have our eyes and hearts and brains become so dark and dull that such an act does not justify an intensive investigation, documentation and public debate by an excellent journalist, driven by an almost-statelike responsibility, such as Ilana Dayan?

But the right has succeeded, as it does, in diverting the discussion from this solid fact to “big” questions of the damage to the image of the Jewish army. This could have been very funny if it wasn’t so sad. Captain R., a Druze, has become the ultimate symbol of generations of Jewish justice − and the labeling of the media as leftist, anti-Zionist and most important, inaccurate. And in order to do this, they twist the judgments of “Jewish” or “non-Jewish” judges. Since defaming the press is the immediate goal, while eroding the trustworthiness of the Supreme Court and the entire legal system is the larger plan.

There is no doubt that in this matter the right has won a resounding victory. It has established a “moral” scale for interpreting every court decision according to the image of the judge who signed it, delegitimizes judges by labeling them anti-Jewish leftists, and blocks any discussion of the essential points of the judgments. For its part, the left is first forced to zealously defend the holy rule of law. It cannot resist the temptation and falls into the trap of attacking the court decisions based on the very same scale as the right − but in the exactly opposite way. Solberg accepted the suit? After all he is a right-wing figure of darkness. Supreme Court Justice Uzi Vogelman acquitted? Good, he is enlightened, one of our own.

When the discussion is motivated by shallow political “ratings,” the possibility of having an argument, based on the actual merits or shortcomings of the decision, has become impossible. Dayan did not “lose the public’s trust.” She became a tool to dig the grave of the legal system. The right dug it with the idiotic aid of the left, and all those who disagree with the “complete righteousness of the Jewish People” will fall into the grave. Especially, if they base themselves purely on the facts.

Read this article in Hebrew