Last October, in our weekly column entitled “Managing the news,” we described how Oshrat Kotler, a two-decade veteran of Galei Tzahal and Channel 2, and currently Channel 10’s news presenter, manages the news. We complained about her ethics infractions in 2014, but her bosses wrote back that they allowed her to be “opinionated in places where required.”
On October 3 last year, Kotler asked, “Why are Jews still permitted to enter the Temple Mount?” and called Temple Mount activists a “bunch of crazies.” Neutrality isn’t her style.
Nor is proportionality; four out of five people who appeared on her panel at the time opposed the right of Jews to benefit from the Law for the Protection of the Holy Places.
Back in January 2008, Kotler called for Israel’s government to negotiate with Hamas “before we sacrifice hundreds of victims on the altar of Israeli masculinity.”
Earlier, on Remembrance Day 2003, Kotler asked her viewers to “count 365 days of death, violence, government stupidity, poverty, ignorance, corruption, brutal warfare, suicide bombings.” She then broke down and cried, live on TV.
This past Saturday evening, hosting the week’s magazine news round-up, which included an item on the Samarian community of Yitzhar whose spokesperson also sang, Kotler informed her viewers that “he knows how to sing, to compose and direct – there is no doubt that he is a sane settler. It seems that those types do exist, even in Yitzhar.”
Channel 10, realizing that a storm of criticism was brewing on social media, quickly announced that its CEO had spoken with Kotler and that she would formally clarify her comments during the next program.
However, as the comments, overwhelmingly negative, increased, Kotler used the program’s Facebook page to inform readers that, “At the end of the report I decided to compliment Ezri Tovi, who sings well in my opinion, and I mentioned that it is good to know that there are sane settlers, in quotes, even in settlements such as Yitzhar.”
“My intention was obviously to commend Tovi’s moderation,” Kotler wrote, adding, “I certainly do not think that the settler community is insane, period.”
The real point of this latest episode is simple: if a media person violates the law or the professional ethical code the network has adopted, and is not punished or reprimanded, why should infractions or misbehavior not continue? Israel’s mainstream media elite, the guild of left-leaning liberals known as the “branja,” cares for ethics only if violations come from “the other side.”
To be fair, Kotler has been criticized from the far Left. Here is Gideon Levy in a column published in Haaretz on July 14, 2006: “There was always something didactic and teacher- like about her... For years, Oshrat Kotler was a newscaster on Channel 2. She came across as relatively intelligent, but with a sanctimonious streak.” It is amusing to note what bothers the extreme Left.
Given the fact that Kotler and others who have been the subjects of our media critique in this column have gotten away scot-free, is it any wonder that the spokesperson of opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Ofer Newman, felt it was quite acceptable to post his opinion that “The settlers built swimming pools on the blood of children they murdered... They blatantly abused our chances of not dying here. They violently took our hopes. They trampled Jewish ethics under their coarse feet... What kind of a twisted moral basis enables these people to stride along on a path toward the deaths of thousands of Israelis without anyone saying to them: ‘You have gone too far! You are lowly murderers. You belong in prison!’” Newman obviously has been hearing too much from other “dignitaries” such as Amos Oz, David Grossman, Yair Garboz and a slew of politicians, many from the Labor Party, who over the decades used far worse language in their attempt to degrade the “settlers.”
True to form, Newman also apologized, with his excuse being his viewing that evening Shimon Dotan’s film The Settlers. As it happens, one of us (YM) posted a blog back in July 2013 detailing, from an application Dotan made for funds for his film, the extreme negative views Dotan held and his agenda to paint the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria in the worst possible light.
Herzog realized his spokesperson was a potential albatross around his neck and said, “The post by my spokesperson, was... very wrong, because it creates a generalization that I am unwilling to accept and uses imagery that we mustn’t use under any circumstances...
even in the middle of the debate, we will uphold their honor and do so respectfully.”
But as if from a script from one of our satirical programs, Newman himself sought a unique defense. He pointed to Oshrat Kotler’s own apology that Saturday night.
At least her diatribe was useful for someone.The authors are vice chairman and chairman respectively of Israel’s Media Watch www.imediaw.org.il