Media comment: Why not positivism?

Instead of throwing dirt, it would be far more useful to report on what has been done that is good. Of course, “good” may be in the eyes of the beholder.

By ELI POLLAK
September 12, 2019 22:32
Media comment: Why not positivism?

‘THE ARAB parties have shown a measure of maturity.’ . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the present election campaign for the 22nd Knesset is its negativism. Some political parties cannot refrain from sullying their competitors, presumably thinking voters will take this into consideration when casting their votes. In the media particularly, this negativism has reached a crescendo, with nary a positive word on any of the political parties. Is there nothing positive to report?

Some journalists would argue that they are just doing their job. We disagree. What is their job? Promoting negativism? Informing the electorate? Instead of throwing dirt, it would be far more useful to report on what has been done that is good. Of course, “good” may be in the eyes of the beholder. Nonetheless, we shall try, with elections mere days away, to present a positive example by providing an informative picture of the various parties.

The Arab parties have shown a measure of maturity. Instead of two or three parties running against each other, they have a unified list. This can only provide the Arab population with sorely needed representation. After all, in a democracy, if you do not have someone to represent you in the governing circles, your ability to defend your rights is diminished. One sees in the past few years an attempt by the Arab MKs to move away from the harsh political pro-Palestinian rhetoric toward a platform that defends the individual rights of their constituency. This is laudable.

Continuing to the Left side of the political spectrum is the Israel Democratic Party. Here is another example of willingness to overcome differences and pool resources, not only to bring in more voters, but also to provide its constituency with meaningful actions. Some of its MKs have excelled in initiating ideas such as the social justice caucus, caring for tenants’ rights, increasing governmental transparency, representing the disabled and more. The party is a staunch defender of the “two-state solution,” supports the Israeli judicial system and the Supreme Court. When you vote for the Israel Democratic Party, you know what you are getting.

ALSO ON the Left, but to the right of the Israel Democratic Party, one finds the Labor-Gesher alliance. Labor Party leader Amir Peretz had the guts to create a coalition with Gesher Party leader Orly Levy-Abecassis – who does not identify with the political Left – to present a social-oriented party that will do whatever it can against the prevalent capitalist policies. Peretz, a former leader of the Histadrut labor federation, has a track record as a defender of the poor and downtrodden. The Gesher Party’s positive statements are aimed at convincing those whose life is not all too good that the union with Labor will bring about change.

The Blue and White Party is characterized by an impressive expertise in military affairs. It is a broad home to many parts of Israeli society, bridging gaps between right-wing religious representatives and deep secularists. The party contains those who support a two-state solution and those who abhor it. Its faction includes socialists and capitalists. In contrast to the first three parties, it is very young. But here, too, its leaders managed to overcome differences, exemplifying its ability to bring rational compromise to Israel’s political scene and governing bodies.

The Likud has been the governing party for the past 10 years. It has led the country with a steady hand, creating a capitalist-oriented society that many feel has made Israel an affluent country where most of its citizens are happy to live. It has moved away from the two-state solution, as most of its members do not believe in it. Its right-wing policies have led to an increase in the population of Judea and Samaria. The Likud Party has found ways to bridge differences between secular, religious and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sectors of society. It has immeasurably increased government financial support for Arab cities and towns, improving infrastructure and education. 

To its right one finds the Yamina Party. Its leaders have also found a way to compromise and create a larger right wing, without becoming an exclusively religious party. Its members have changed the Supreme Court and the justice system, bringing to them greater pluralism and cultural diversity. The party has shifted Israel’s education more toward STEM-oriented (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) training, while at the same time creating a deeper appreciation of Zionism to younger voters. In the same sphere, Yamina has enabled the establishment of a new medical school at Ariel University, providing many of our best youngsters with the chance to practice medicine without needing to study abroad.

UNITED TORAH Judaism and the Shas haredi parties have systematically represented their constituencies, providing funding for their school systems, defending the right of Torah scholars to continue their studies without the need to serve in the IDF, and defending both Ashkenazi and Sefardi haredi culture. They have done all this while at the same time partaking in important processes that are of great importance to the general public, such as health, immigration policies, social justice and more.

Our readers will note that there are a few parties we did not mention. This is not an oversight. We simply could not find it possible to present them in a positive light, as we are unaware of any positive contributions they have made in recent years

Some media outlets actually did, to some extent, provide the various parties with the ability to present themselves and their agendas. The right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper, in its recent weekend editions, published long interviews with some candidates, and not only those from the Right. However, the same newspaper, with elections a week away, used many pages to cover the brouhaha surrounding the proposed camera bill.

On Monday, though, following the government’s decision to allow photo coverage of the elections (nixed by Yisrael Beytenu), discussions on radio were largely limited to differences of opinion between Left and Right on this issue rather than anything substantive. 

Another poorly handled media topic was how the various political parties are preparing their tactics for Election Day. One might think this is what concerns the Israeli public. If the polls are correct and close to 50% of voters are still undecided, the media should have risen to the challenge, providing information that would help people make up their minds, instead of merely explaining what the parties are doing in the polls.

But no, our media follow the general trend, providing little more than shallow coverage of the real issues. It is much more difficult to deal with these topics than it is to run catchy headlines.

The writers are members of Israel’s Media Watch (imediaw.org.il).


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