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Media Comment: Unreported ‘price-tag’ actions
By YISRAEL MEDAD,ELI POLLAK
28/05/2014
The one-sidedness of the media is fuel in the hands of those who believe that their violent deeds can lead to anything good.
 
Over 48 hours (May 23-24), there were no less than 69 stone-throwing and fire-bombing attacks against Jews in Judea and Samaria (Yesha). On May 24, according to a report of the Hashomer Hachadash website, fires broke out at three separate locations in the area of Givat Nili and Regavim. Arson is strongly suspected. Givat Nili and Regavim are not “settlements” across the Green Line, rather they are located on the Western boundary of Wadi Ara. Such fires occur in that area at the rate of approximately 1,000 per year.

The Hakol Hayehudi news website reported on May 22 that that morning there were 10 stonings of Jewish cars in Yesha. Some were damaged, no injuries were reported. According to the same website, during the week preceding May 13 no less than 62 attacks against Jews in Judea and Samaria were recorded. Most of them were “only” stonings. Similar statistics were reported for the first week of May.

There is nothing new about any of this. The Megaphone website, in an article from November 23, 2013, reported that in the three weeks prior to the article’s publication, 786 stonings were reported in all of Israel, not including attacks directed at IDF forces. Yehudit Tayar, an emergency medic volunteer with the Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron organization and who served in an IDF combat unit, has so far published, with the clearance and confirmation of the IDF, 91 reports, each of which contains dozens of violent incidents that have occurred over the past three years in Judea and Samaria. These reports have appeared on news websites in both Hebrew and English, but are ignored by mainstream media outlets.

Ynet reported on May 8 that swastikas were spray-painted on three vehicles in Lydda. The report, by Eli Senior, ends with the laconic statement that the police had opened an investigation. On May 8, the Rotter website reported that swastikas were spray-painted on a bus parked in the vicinity of the ORT Shapira School in Jaffa. Swastikas were also reported on the Serugim website to have appeared in the ancient synagogue in Eshtamoa (located in the South Hebron region). The “price tag” logo did not appear in any of the cases described above.

Had it not been for modern technology we would not know that a war is taking place in Judea and Samaria.

No, this war did not break out as a result of the “breakdown” of the talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his henchmen. It has been going on all through the nine months of talks.

No one in the media addressed a question to Abbas about these events. PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, a frequent guest of Razi Barkai on Army Radio, was not asked questions such as, “Do you condemn such violent acts against civilians, holy places, etc.? Aren’t you also responsible for these acts if you do not actively seek to have them stop? Don’t you think that it is high time that your religious leaders stop their hate speeches in the mosques, so that such terror acts are reduced?”

One wonders why the IDF radio station is even willing to interview Erekat, an outspoken supporter of this kind of terror. The same station has not interviewed (and justifiably so) the “price tag” suspect caught in Yokne’am to provide him with a broad platform to “explain” his weltanschauung.

Israeli reporters whose beat is Judea and Samaria are called “territories’ correspondents,” not, for example, “Yesha reporters.” Obviously, the title “Yesha reporter” would be interpreted as bias, identifying the reporter with the settlers of Yesha. But isn’t the title “territories’ correspondent” just as biased, identified with a left-wing ideology in which Judea and Samaria are “occupied territories”? Is there a correlation between the media outlets’ title for the reporters and the fact that they do not provide the public with the information as to what is really happening in the territories?

Providing coverage of acts of vandalism against Muslims and Christians is vital. Op-ed articles, interviews and media discussions on the issue are in order, and have taken place. But stones and fire-bombs are much more dangerous than paint. They can kill and maim. Adel Biton, the infant critically wounded near Ariel is but one example, Yitzhak Palmer and his infant son, killed when a rock smashed their front window near Hebron, are another.

Why is it that state prosecutor Shai Nitzan this week in his speech at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat singled out price tag acts as intolerable, but said not a word about violence against Jews?

The Israeli media simply doing its job would have too major effects the issue of terrorist acts against Jews. One is that the IDF and other security forces would take it more seriously and put more effort into prevention. The second and the more important result, however, is that more people in Israel and all over the world would appreciate the pressure on Israelis coming from the Palestinian side.

Unfortunately this is not currently the case. The one-sidedness of the media is fuel in the hands of those misguided people who believe that their violent deeds can lead to anything good. An atmosphere in which no acts of violence are condoned could go a long way to helping those educators attempting to teach their students that price tag actions are morally reprehensible; a tough assignment when such acts, and much worse ones, are condoned as long as they are committed by the “right” side. It is high time that all “price tag” acts are reported, irrespective of their source.

On another note, although perhaps somewhat connected, we would like to pay our respects to Uri Elitzur, who succumbed to cancer last week at the age of 68. Many have eulogized Uri, his accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the national-religious camp. Here, we would like to note his ground-breaking contributions to Israel’s media.

Together with Motti Shaklar (who would later become director-general of the IBA), Yitzhak Recanati and Naftali Glicksberg, he founded the Ma’aleh School of Television, Film and the Arts in 1989. He understood the need for the national Zionist camp to make its presence felt in the arts, literature, film and journalism. He was the editor of the monthly Nekudah magazine, turning it into the premier magazine for exchange of opinion, new ideas and out-of-the- box thinking for the national camp. In 2004, he became deputy editor of Makor Rishon’s political section, Yoman, and a few months before his passing became editor of the newspaper. His contributions were nationally recognized, he was awarded the Sokolov Prize for Excellence in Journalism.

Uri was devoted to raising a new cadre of national-religious journalists. His life’s work in journalism sets an example to us all.

The authors are respectively vice-chairman and chairman of Israel’s Media Watch (www.imw.org.il).
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