Perhaps loyalty laws should extend to the press

                                                                                                          (Photo by Hmbr/Wikimedia Commons)
Sometimes I get into arguments. I will pause for you to lift your jaw from the floor…Ok and were back!
Thankfully, despite my sometimes-contentious nature, I have a number of fantastic and loyal friends and family that surround me.
When I was in high school, though, through a series of absurd miscommunications, I became enemy #1 of an Israeli-American gang in Los Angeles.
For weeks, after services on Shabbat, a different gang member would approach me, warning me that if I didn’t make amends they would “come for me”. I paid very little attention to these run-ins because firstly, these were just dumb high school kids like me and secondly, and a far greater issue, I had no idea who I was supposed to make amends with and for what.
Then one week they “came for me”. I was in the back of a different synagogue, my services having ended earlier, gated off from a back alley, visiting friends who prayed there. Suddenly I saw roughly a dozen Israeli thugs (for lack of a better word) come marching down the alley.
Now I may be tough with the laptop, but Schwarzenegger I’m not. I bolted into the main sanctuary hoping they wouldn’t dare attack me in there while services were still ongoing.
Three friends proved what their friendship was worth shortly after.
One friend, who was also friends with some of the crew, came into the sanctuary to convince me “that they just wanted to talk”. I was skeptical due to the fact that while he was assuring me, I was staring out of the glass-windowed doors of the main sanctuary, watching an angry sabra palming an iron clothes-hanger in his hand.
I watched as a second friend, one I considered one of my closest, approach the motley crew and began shaking hands and dealing out hugs. Wonderful.
A third friend, who I would really call more of an acquaintance, and one who was also friends with members of the gang, was the one who came to my rescue, alarming security, calling the cops, and getting someone to get me to a safe location…the rabbi’s office.
I learned that day that people have every single right in the world to choose their actions, but they do not get to choose the consequences. My friends had every right to be friendly with the hoodlums, but they did not have the right for me to continue considering them my friends.
I think this lesson certainly can be applied to the media and the “freedom of speech” argument.
In the past few months alone, Haaretz has posted a number of articles that are so appalling that one really must ask if the editors are either on drugs or need some for their glaucoma. 
First there was Amira Hass’s repulsive article justifying Palestinian stone-throwing, an action that has recently killed innocent fathers, daughters, sons and pregnant mothers.  The article opens “Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.” That’s enough of that drivel.
Next came Bradley Burston’s wonderful article, where the title says it all, “Iran''s bomb, Israel''s settlements: Can you spot the differences? (A Self-Test)”. In his Cosmo-like questionnaire, Burston asks readers to read a policy and guess if it is Iran or Israel (hint: if it’s bad the answer is Israel). He even condemned Israeli settlers for being “obsessed with the Holocaust”. You know who else is obsessed with the Holocaust Mr. Burston…Renowned director Steven Spielberg, who founded the Shoah Foundation. Is he as bad as Ayatollah Khomeini as well? The absurd comparison of Israelis to the genocidal regime of Iran, nay the argument that Israeli settlers are worse, is not just classless journalism; it is an insidious fallacy and propaganda.
Just two weeks later Haaretz struck again. In a twisted and self-hating piece entitled “One day, Ramallah will rise up”, Gideon Levi is not sending a warning to his fellow citizens, as his headline would have you believe. Shockingly, Levi encourages the uprising against his own people. Levi, with self-loathing seething through the ink, pens
It would be best that this day come soon; too bad it hasn’t come yet. The Israeli public, which didn’t know how to end its occupation regime on its own, will also act surprised, and offended. Again they will say that “there’s no partner," that “they’re like animals,” but no one will take these statements seriously. Israel will again play the victim, but few will be able to identify with it anymore.
Why is it best that this happens soon? Because as time passes, the damage and rage accumulate. Because there is no chance that Israel will end the occupation voluntarily. Because justice cries out for it to happen.
This trash, as dangerous as it is, is almost too absurd to take seriously…but we must.
However, just in case you feel I am picking unfairly on Haaretz, sadly they are far from alone. As Israel celebrated the opening ceremonies of the Maccabiah games this week, a competition described by its own website states:
The Maccabiah is the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition in the tradition and values of Maccabi, emphasizing the centrality of the State of Israel in the life of the Jewish people. We offer opportunities to tour the land of Israel and integrate all Maccabiah participants with the Israeli society and localities in the country; initiating and creating an unforgettable experience comprised of competitive sports, cultural events and lifetime memorable experiences. In addition to being competitive, the sports competitions are also dedicated to the values of fair play, mutual respect, victory of body, intellect, and the pursuit of excellence. These spectacular sports and cultural extravaganzas uniting close to ten thousand Jewish athletes from all over the world in Israel every four years have a tremendous Zionist history, stretching back to the vivid imagination of a Jewish youngster in 1912 who made his dream come true.
How can you find fault in that? Enter Yediot Achronot writer Yakir Elkariv. He wrote an article entitled “A Sign of Pure Racism”. He opens with the oh-so-elegant sentence: “If we take a minute to peel off its layer of Zionist bullshit, the Maccabiah is in fact the answer to the following question: What would happen if we decided to ignore every single aspect of sports and maintained that all athletes participating in a certain event would be chosen not based on their skills, but according to their race – let''s say, Jews?” Eloquent and logical…who says journalism is dead?!
The reason I point out all these horrific articles (and I am sure there are plenty more in the Israeli press) is to suggest that when Avigdor Lieberman pointed out that people like MK Haneen Zoabi, a passenger on the Mavi Mara Flotilla, is exactly why a loyalty oath is necessary, perhaps he did not go far enough. Perhaps the loyalty oath proposal should be extended to any media outlet claiming to be an ISRAELI media outlet.
As a journalist myself, I covet the freedom of speech as much as the next guy, but I understand its limitations.
Newspapers that want to publish articles like the ones mentioned above, such as Haaretz and Ynet, are 100% free to express these anti-Zionist opinions. However, they are not 100% free from the consequences of such choices.
They can choose to attack Israel with tricks and lies to their hearts content, but their continued partaking in the tremendous amount of freedom Israel affords them is despicably hypocritical. They, like my friends, can choose to write these articles, but that does not mean they have carte balance to declare themselves Israel’s friend.
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