Media salute Yehimovic for joining Labor

Senior members of the Israeli media publicly congratulated Shelly Yehimovic on Tuesday following her announcement that she had decided to join the Labor party. For an overview of other Israeli journalists who entered politics, click here. Shalom Kital, the director of Channel 2 news, was among those who wished the veteran TV and radio journalist success on her new path. "Shelly joined the news five years ago and made a unique contribution in her special and opinionated voice," Kital said. "I am sure that the skills she employed in the media will assist her in making an outstanding contribution in the political sphere she is now joining." "Her friends at the Channel 2 new company regret having to say good-bye, but are full of good wishes," Kital added. Amnon Levi, Motti Kirshenbaum and Ilana Dayan were among the prominent journalists who extended their congratulations to Yehimovic, who is resigning from her position as a news commentator and as the host of Meet the Press on Channel 2 news, as well as from her position as a journalist on Army Radio. Yehimovic, who has known new Labor chairman Amir Peretz since the days when he was the mayor of Sderot and she was a fledgling reporter in the south, has long upheld an ideological agenda which she herself described on Tuesday as perfectly in tandem with what she called Peretz's "social-democratic" politics. A journalist who has prided herself her on highly opinionated reporting, Yehimovic has long been identified with the socio-economic agenda championed by Peretz, and with the moderate left-wing politics of the Labor party more generally. After gaining a bachelor's degree in Social Sciences and writing for the newspaper Al Hamishmar, Yehimovic, 45, went on to work as a reporter on Israel Radio, followed by a brief period of hosting the Channel 1 new program Erev Hadash (from which she was reportedly fired for not coming across well on screen). Last year, Yehimovic also entered the unofficial Israeli pantheon when a satirical rendition of her became one of the cornerstones of the Channel 2 program Eretz Nehederet. Her onscreen double has continuously made fun of the real-life qualities Yehimovic is best known for - including her sometimes annoyingly self-righteous and self-congratulatory tone, her feminist agenda, her politically correct vocabulary and her outspoken criticism on issues concerning racism, women's rights, gay rights and workers' rights. More recently, a November 12 television interview Yehimovic conducted with Peretz following his victory in the Labor primaries was strongly criticized in the Israeli media as overly enthusiastic and pro-Peretz. Following her announcement about joining Labor on Tuesday, Yehimovic herself admitted to sending Peretz a text message earlier this month, in which she wished him good luck in the primaries. Indeed, as Ben-Gurion University's Professor Dan Caspi - one of the country's foremost media experts - noted on Tuesday, the evolving relationship between Peretz and Yehimovic brings up a series of concerns about the relationship between politics and the media. "There's nothing wrong with journalists entering politics as long as it is done in a transparent manner," Caspi told The Jerusalem Post. "What bothered me in this case," he added, "is that media power - which is now being translated into political power - is very much related to the trust that readers or viewers feel towards the journalist mediating between them and the political sphere. Yet in this case, despite my affection for Yehimovic, I feel betrayed." Caspi said that he believed Yehimovic had an ethical obligation to refrain from reporting on issues related to Peretz and to the Labor party in the past two weeks, before deciding to make public her political intentions. "I would expect journalists to limit their own coverage during such a transition period, or to be limited by the system," he said. Consequently, Caspi said he also held Channel 2 news responsible. "I would assume there were people there who knew of her intentions," he said. "I say this with mixed feelings because I do respect and value her," Caspi added. "Yet Yehimovic has set a negative ethical example, especially because we are talking about a top reporter who serves as a model for other reporters."