Jerusalem Capital Studios CEO Hanani Rapaport 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Lev)
Hanani Rapoport, the new CEO of the firm that hosts Israel's biggest news production facilities, said the
government needs to accept the fact that foreign media outlets do not work at
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“Israel needs to understand. The foreign media do not
work for the Foreign Ministry. Not for [Avigdor] Lieberman’s Foreign Ministry,
and not for [leftwing politician] Yossi Beilin’s Foreign Ministry,” Rapoport
told the The Jerusalem Post during an interview at the Tel Aviv offices of his
Jerusalem Capital Studios on Monday.
Rapoport, who was appointed to the
top job in January, 17 years after joining JCS, said the ministry can go through
the same channels as everybody else when trying to have its views heard in the
foreign media. But he added that journalists are often reluctant to speak to the
ministry because they “do not want to work like Pravda [the former mouthpiece of
the Soviet Communist party].”
Rapoport said foreign media choose to base
their Middle Eastern operations in Israel because it provides the freedom of
speech that does not exist in neighboring Arab countries.
biggest news production company, JCS provides television and production
facilities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to almost all the foreign networks and
television stations covering the Middle East, including CNN, Fox News, France 2,
Germany’s ARD and Spain’s TVE. Israel’s Channel 2 and Channel 10 are also
Rapoport said critics would find plenty of positive news
coverage of Israel in foreign television media if they look hard enough. He
cited Chinese state television broadcaster CCTV, which he said aired several
stories about February’s Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy conference, an event
overwhelmingly ignored by Israeli television networks.
He said criticism
directed at the BBC – which recently ended its relationship with his company
because it needed more space than what JCS could provide in its Jerusalem
offices – was misguided.
“When I see the BBC, I don’t see any problem
with their reports. I think that they try to do their work as well as they
can... It’s impossible to work and to find favor with both sides, there’s
nothing that can be done about that,” Rapoport said.
Still, he said he
never encountered a foreign journalist based in Israel who compromised his
integrity for an anti-Semitic agenda.
He also rejected “inaccurate”
claims that foreign news agencies had deserted Israel, saying that only American
broadcasters NBC, ABC and CBS had downsized their operations here, and that they
cut their budgets in other countries before doing the same in
Rapoport acknowledged that some smaller networks had also mulled
decreasing the number of journalists they have stationed here, but decided
against it following the outbreak of anti-regime protests in Egypt and across
the Arab world.
In addition, Rapoport said, foreign news agencies have
plenty of local news angles to explore; on the morning prior to this interview
no less than 10 of the foreign networks filmed reports about the reaction in
Israel to the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
Rapoport has a
wealth of experience in the industry, having worked at ABC and later on as
producer for now-Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera. During his time in the US he
won two Emmys for producing news reports, one of which dealt with the 1989
massacre in the Romanian city of Timisoara as the Communist regime of Nicola
Ceausescu was on the verge of collapse.
He said his main challenge as CEO
of JCS, which is controlled by majority shareholder Ronald Lauder, will be to
figure out how to incorporate new technologies to the benefit of his
“There is still use of satellites, there is still use of
broadband, but there are also new tools, and we need to bring those [new tools]
to our clients... that is my challenge,” he said. “[Until now] they have
come to JCS because they know that it is a one-stop shop.”