Media Comment: Enemy-supporting journalism

Persistent reading reveals the pervasiveness of the paper’s editorial line, which makes its way into every possible section.

By ELI POLLAK
December 2, 2015 20:18
Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr apparently reads the English-language edition of Haaretz and as a result, exploded against Rogel Alpher, a columnist and blogger at the paper, on November 23. She became a media critic after reading his piece calling upon the Jews of France not to make aliya but rather to stay in France.

He added, as this paper reported: “Don’t flee Muslim fascism into the arms of Jewish fascism. Nothing for you in Israel... To emigrate from France to Israel now is like emigrating from Palestine to Nazi Germany in 1933... Israel has stopped being the Jewish state. It is a bi-national apartheid state...

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The Zionist enterprise is dead. Committed suicide.”

Barr’s answer to Alpher was a very blunt and insulting tweet: “Stfu [shut the f*** up] privileged fat skinhead.”

Alpher’s reaction was, “she’s been for several years already very much psycho.”

We are no experts in psychology but we think Barr’s expressions fall well within the normative dialogue that goes on the record in the pages of Haaretz and, for that matter, a few other newspapers and news Web sites, notably Yediot Aharonot and its Ynet site whose Igal Sarna regularly employs Nazi themes against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others he hates.

Our Media Comment columns focus on Israel’s local media but there is a broader view that must be considered. Haaretz and Ynet promote their content in English, aiming for a global audience. Whereas this paper also publishes in English globally, there is a fundamental difference: The Jerusalem Post, which if course is also in English, informs, while the goal of Haaretz and Ynet is to persuade.



Take for example a very popular form of modern journalism: blogs. At Haaretz there is no pluralism in this regard. The prominent blogs include Bradley Burston’s “A Special Place in Hell,” Chemi Shalev’s “West of Eden,” Anshel Pfeffer’s “Jerusalem & Babylon,” Barak Ravid’s “Diplomania” and Carlo Strenger’s “Strenger than Fiction.” While Moshe Arens and Israel Harel are regular Haaretz columnists, their columns are not always translated. In the rare event that there are right-of-center op-ed contributors, they, too, are rarely translated. One of us (YM) volunteered himself as a blogger but there was not even a response.

Persistent reading reveals the pervasiveness of the paper’s editorial line, which makes its way into every possible section.

There are the op-ed contributors who also report, mixing views and news. Here is Amira Hass in her November 26 column: “[E]ither the politicians, army personnel and judges in Israel are stupid... or they are consciously interested in escalation and the expansion of Palestinian acts of desperation.”

Gideon Levy employed an anti-Semitic meme last August 5 when he opined on the Duma torching murders that “what is concealed beneath the skin of most Israelis, you would find: the chosen people...the next torching is only a matter of time.” His next favorite term is “apartheid.” He does not depend only on his audience reading him, but regularly travels abroad on trips sponsored by the most vicious anti-Israel groups.

His recent National Press Club address was reviewed on November 2 in the CounterCurrents blog: “Gidion [sic] Levy gives a wonderful highly authoritative... description of the state of blind, deaf and dumb Israeli acceptance of the inhumanity of Israeli persecution, degradation and homicidal captivity of Arab Palestinians... who Levy reports are treated and considered as sub human. Levy presents...illustrative examples of incomprehensible macabre racism personally witnessed.”

Here is Levy providing a balanced, factual perspective on September 13: “What can we say about the Jewish majority if it’s a majority for fascism, racism and hatred of Arabs and foreigners?” And on August 2, relating to the Duma incident: “All Israelis are guilty for setting a Palestinian family on fire.”

What is tolerated by his publisher would be denounced if it appeared in another paper. Even leftist Gershom Gorenberg, on November 6, 2014, admitted, “It upsets me to read what Levy writes about my city.” What Levy wrote was, “O Jerusalem, Israelis have already forgotten thee... you can’t love a city when it’s immoral.” That the paper tolerates such expressions while railing against much less incendiary writing elsewhere indicates an ingrained prejudice both in the editorial offices and the newsrooms.

We’ll give The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto the last word on Levy. Directly following last March’s elections here, Levy wrote: “The nation must be replaced... it is very ill indeed... truly broken, possibly beyond repair.” Taranto’s piece was entitled “Annoy the Media, Vote Likud,” and he observed in it that “some Israelis are not what you’d describe as pro-Israel. Consider this reaction from Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz, the Jewish equivalent of the New York Times.”

Newspapers organize professional conferences, and that is not unusual. Haaretz has organized, so far, two “Israel Conference on Peace” in which the far-left political ideology is the dominant theme.

The accompanying special newspaper supplement was generous in hosting, among others, the Palestinian Authority’s Jibril Rajoub. Rajoub is an “acceptable Arab.” But i24 TV’s Lucy Aharish, who served as a moderator for the two previous Haaretz conferences and also this year’s, is also an Israeli Arab and a media personality in her own right, fell out of favor.

Back in May when she was honored by the state as one of the 12 torch lighters on Independence Day, Levy managed to find something wrong with her selection, casting her as a “good Arab,” akin to the American “Uncle Tom” epithet. To his mind, she was chosen because she didn’t “dress like an Arab.”

Her outspoken declarations, on air, against Arab violence, the promotion of terrorism and the unwillingness to compromise apparently really charged up Haaretz’s extreme leftist non-Zionists.

She asked, “Even if the status quo on the Temple Mount has been broken, does that allow someone to go and murder someone else because of a sacred place?” Haaretz’s Jack Khoury on October 19 and then Alpher on October 24 penned very critical and negative columns against her. She was targeted. Alpher was especially denigrating, writing, “[I]f Aharish were to speak differently, she would not have a job on Channel 2. If she spoke differently, no one would have let her host a current affairs program on Channel 2... .”

On July 24, 2014, Haaretz published a column by Stephen Games, a cultural critic formerly with the BBC and The Guardian, who asked, “Can the BBC and other international news networks really provide ‘war reporting of the highest standards’ from Gaza when their staff are threatened by Hamas enforcers?” and called it “compromised coverage.”

When the atmosphere at Haaretz is overwhelmingly post-Zionist, when the characterization of Israel slides into Nazi imagery, when the negative is the most prominent news, can one consider Haaretz to be a “news”paper?

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

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