(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Only a win by the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog will pry the election out of the back pages it’s been relegated to by the international media.
Despite the potential of being one of most historic elections in Israel’s history – where the Joint (Arab) List is poised to be the third-largest party and Netanyahu may lose his standing as the longest-running prime minister after David Ben-Gurion – the news coverage in itself has been rather ho-hum.
“They ask me what is new,” France 2 bureau chief Charles Enderlin, told The Jerusalem Post
Speaking from his office where the walls are adorned with several historical artifacts – one of them being a map of Israel from 1917 – the famed journalist attributed the lack of interest to a repetitive and exhausting news cycle coming out of the Jewish state.
“There is a lack of interest in the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” he said bluntly.
Except for the story of French immigration and “little Paris” in Netanya, there has been a decline in interest in what is happening in Israel, he said. Even being one of the first journalists to report on Syrians being treated in Israel failed to make the air.
In the event of a Zionist Union win, Enderlin says we will have to wait to see what will change.
“I will do some live coverage in the morning, they will ask me who is going to win, and that’s it. It seems that some foreign news outlets have decided Israel’s elections come and go,” he said of his coverage plans for the morning after Election Day.
A tighter budget may also be an influencing factor dictating the decrease in coverage, a freelance photographer who declined to be named said.
“I myself have had very little work on the elections, as far as assignments go,” she added. “I still work every day, but it’s on spec. One or two elections ago, we’d have at least one other photographer come in to help out. There has been little interest, even though this is one of the most important elections we’ve had,” she added.
It looks like media outlets, however, are still trying to cover all of their bases. According to the Foreign Ministry, hundreds of journalists have flown in for the election, and that is in addition to roughly 800 members of the foreign press already based in Israel.
Sam Kiley, a foreign affairs editor for Sky News, is one of the reporters who flew in especially for the election. He explained that the most interesting and salient points of the election are far too complex for a foreign audience to want to wrap their head around.
“Israeli elections are a rather drawnout, not very dramatic process,” he said. “The issues have been entirely domestic… [which] is pretty nuanced. Somebody is not going to jump on their breaks and pull over in their car when they hear about this stuff on the radio.”
Opinion pieces have already primed its audience for the eventuality of Herzog ousting Netanyahu. An Economist
editorial last week said, “In this newspaper’s view [Netanyahu] has been a bad deal for Israel. It is better off without him.
“His challenger, Yitzhak ‘Buji’ Herzog... is not charismatic. But he is level-headed and has a credible security and economic team.... He deserves a chance to prove himself.”
Slate, too, jumped on “the anybody but Bibi bandwagon,” saying, “But the manner in which he’s doing it has made him toxic. His days as a credible representative of his country are over.”