This past Saturday night, a virtual rally was able to take place online thanks to modern technological innovations. The digital demonstration apparently attracted a huge crowd of viewers who listened to the gathered speakers talking as the cameras rolled in Tel Aviv.
Since it’s illegal at the present time to hold large, crowded gatherings due to the novel coronavirus, most interpersonal communication is taking place on social networks these days, which are highly effective and strongly influence public opinion and discourse. It is still too early to gauge the extent of this influence.
The speakers at the virtual demonstration represented an important segment of the Israeli public that is fed up with the deceptive manipulations of Netanyahu, the temporary prime minister. Each speaker expressed their view in their own scathing, sharp and sometimes personal way.
Among all the speakers, one nice-looking eloquent young woman stood out, whose Hebrew was articulate and more polished than the other speakers. Her name is Lucy Aharish, and she happens to be an Arab Muslim Israeli who’s married to a Jewish man. Lucy is a journalist who is accustomed to appearing on various Israeli networks and sometimes also on foreign stations.
Recently, the state broadcaster, KAN, contacted Aharish and offered her a position as cohost on a cultural program with esteemed broadcaster Kobi Meidan. Last weekend, including the morning the virtual demonstration was set to take place, Aharish was involved in preparations for the program that she was expected to present together with Kobi Meidan.
On Sunday morning, Aharish was fired from the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. Of course, this was completely a coincidence. The corporation decided that Geula Even-Sa’ar, who is an extremely esteemed journalist and a permanent employee, and also happens to be the wife of one of the most prominent and important public figures in Israel, Gideon Sa’ar, was asked to leave a different show in which she was involved and instead take Aharish’s place as cohost. Aharish was removed. Perhaps this was a conflict of interest, given Sa’ar’s status and position.
For the sake of proper disclosure, I should note that Even-Sa’ar is an outstanding and widely admired journalist. During all of the positions she’s had at the Israel Broadcasting Authority in the past and in the present at the corporation, she has been appreciated for her professional and direct manner, and for good reason. I have no doubt that she is a great fit for a position that befits her talents, and it would be wonderful if there were more journalists at her level working at the corporation and at other TV stations.
Nonetheless, Aharish’s dismissal is not coincidental. It is another manifestation of the growing perversion within Israel’s public media that is leading to moral corruption. It is another symptom of the general contempt of democratic processes by Netanyahu’s gang of criminals that are leading the State of Israel.
AHARISH’S REMARKS – which I watched live during the Saturday night protest – were a perfect expression of solidarity with the State of Israel. Aharish is neither a member of Knesset nor is she a member of the Joint List which spokespeople for the Likud – under the leadership of the temporary prime minister – say that its leaders are traitors who yearn for Israel to be destroyed. Aharish said that she is proud to be Israeli, that she loves her country and that as a proud Israeli citizen she is expressed her opinion and concern about Netanyahu’s efforts to carry out a political coup d’état. (Aharish did not use this terminology, but this was essentially the idea upon which the virtual demonstration was based.)
Aharish spoke from her heart, as well as from the hearts of hundreds of thousands – and perhaps even millions – of Israelis. She is not a traitor. She is not a politician who is constantly busy representing Palestinians against the State of Israel, as MKs from the Joint List are constantly being accused. She does represent the longing of many, many Israeli Arabs who want to be part of Israeli society and to feel that they are accepted and wanted. Aharish is no different than tens of thousands of Arab doctors, pharmacists and nurses who are currently treating sick people in our hospitals and who are intensely devoted to our country’s struggle against the coronavirus.
Netanyahu’s current delinquent administration has taken away Aharish’s right to express her opinion in public.
All of the reasons that have been given to explain Aharish’s dismissal sound like reasonable explanations. Despite that, they are excuses that cover up the uncouth, shocking capitulation of the heads of the public corporation to both the covert and overt threats coming out of Balfour Street that are directed towards every media channel in the State of Israel.
Aharish’s case is particularly noticeable because she is not Jewish. But really, this is not surprising. The fact that she’s married to a Jew and is proud of this (as is her husband and his family) might even be working against her since it’s inconceivable that an Arab man would want to be a part of us.
Who would ever have thought that a Muslim Arab woman who speaks fluent Hebrew without an accent would be so proud to be an Israeli citizen? There’s no other way to deal with this, except to move her away from the stage front o that she won’t be able to serve as an example and symbol for the large Arab public that identifies with her, or even, God forbid – according to the Likud thugs like Justice Minister Amir Ohana and coalition head Miki Zohar – before thousands of Muslim Arabs like her emerge and publicly identify with her.
If Aharish’s dismissal had been an extremely unusual occurrence, it might have been easier to reconcile with the reasoning given by the public broadcasting corporation. However, our eyes can see and our ears can hear the change in tone in the media world. For the obvious reasons, I am not naming anyone specific here. But there’s really no need to do so, since anyone who has been listening to Galei Zahal, Reshet Bet, any of the regional radio stations or watching TV cannot ignore the expanding band of reporters who have been cast into the world of broadcasting as Balfour spokesmen and women, and who are fulfilling their role faithfully. You cannot listen to these broadcasts without being shocked by the crudeness, ignorance and unbalanced reporting that knows no bounds, or to the messages coming out of the prime minister’s house, which are being repeated again and again in one broadcast after another.
ACCORDING TO the community of Balfour spokespersons, who appear in every form of media as if they were professional broadcasters, over 2.5 million citizens voted so that Netanyahu could be prime minister. Now, they are saying that a bunch of corrupt wheeler-dealers are unwilling to comply with the wishes of an alleged majority of voters and so are trying, with the help of the police, the prosecutor’s office and the courts to prevent the person who supposedly won most of the votes from serving as prime minister.
Presenting the political data in this way is patently false. Not everyone in the right-wing bloc voted so that Netanyahu could be prime minister. The Likud received many votes – too many, in my opinion – but fewer than Netanyahu supporters claim he did. People who voted for Litzman, Gafni and Deri did not vote for Bibi, and many of them don’t even support or identify with him. To consider votes for Shas, United Torah Judaism or even votes for Naftali Bennett and Rafi Peretz’s Yamina Party as votes for Netanyahu, is a complete distortion of the political reality.
But if you say that all the people who voted for the right-bloc parties meant to personally support Bibi, then the same logic can be used to claim that everyone who voted for the other bloc wanted Benny Gantz to become prime minister. And, lo and behold, it turned out that this second bloc is bigger, therefore entitiling Gantz to be the first one to try to form a government.
According to which logic or democratic tradition is the smaller bloc more entitled to form a government at all costs? And, furthermore, while clearly ignoring the choice of the voters and the MKs who represent them?
The Likud’s attempt, which was inspired by Netanyahu, to prevent the election of a new speaker for the Knesset, the provocation against the Supreme Court, the demand from Likud leaders that the speaker ignore the Supreme Court’s decision and the fact that he actually did ignore it, is a violation of the law and, in my opinion, tantamount to an attempted coup d’état.
When I hear representatives of the Likud gang on the evening news explaining how it was the Supreme Court that declared war on the Knesset, and therefore its orders should not be followed, it’s clear that many Israeli media outlets have become emissaries of this minority group that lacks any moral principles, democratic tradition or rules that in the past served as the basis of a feeling of solidarity within Israeli society.
These spokespersons, who hide under the fake title of journalist, are exhibiting ignorance, callousness, arrogance and coarseness, which coincide with their feeling of support from those in power and with their desire to help keep control of the government in their hands.
These are the forces that Lucy Aharish came up against this week. She shone with success in exactly the same ways that they’ve failed.
I am so proud of her. May she continue to make her voice heard, and may the people of Israel continue to be proud of her.
The writer was the 12th prime minister of Israel.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.