By JACOB KANTER
Israelis' political views have been pushed to the left by their country's various Hebrew media sources, according to a new poll.
Nearly 80 percent of the 500 people polled by the Tel Aviv-based Geocartography Knowledge Group believe that Israel's Hebrew media outlets influence their audience, rather than reflect its views, and 53% of those polled said that those outlets support and attempt to advance leftist viewpoints.
Abraham Sion, a law professor and chair of the Center for Law and Mass Media at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, which commissioned the study, believes that when taken together, those two statistics show that the Hebrew media is one of the main factors in forming the Israeli public's general political orientation.
"After all that we've gone through in Israeli society over the past 20 years, how can it be possible that there are many people that still believe that we can achieve peace with the Palestinians?" Sion said.
"There are many people that still believe that Oslo was the right way to go. And that, I think, is a direct result of the nature of the media's coverage of the past 20 years, and of the great deal of influence it has over the general public."
The percentages of Israelis who saw a left-leaning Hebrew media were higher among religious people (73%) and people aged 18-34 (60%).
"Young people today are much more aware of the media's influence than they were 10 or 20 years ago," Sion said. "They've grown up with the Internet, which older people didn't have when they were that age. The media has played a much larger role in their lives."
A much lower percentage (14%) believed that a right-wing bias exists within the Hebrew media, and nearly a third of respondents perceived no strong bias in either direction.
But nearly all of the people polled said that they could routinely see journalists' opinions filtering through their work. These perceived biases have led, according to the study, to a certain level of distrust of the Hebrew media within Israeli society: 35% of those polled don't give credence to news reports at all.
The Supreme Court is also perceived as being intimately linked with the Hebrew media: 45% of those polled said the media and the Supreme Court influence each other, compared to only 19% who said that there was no connection.
Additionally, 43% said that the Supreme Court's decisions favor leftist viewpoints, compared to only 5% who believe that the decisions display a rightist agenda.
The study's findings will be one of several topics of discussion on Thursday at the Ariel Conference for Law and Mass Media, of which Sion is an organizer.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, former Supreme Court Justice and president of the Press Council Dalia Dorner, and MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) are among those expected to participate in the conference, which is being held at the Ariel University Center.
The conference will focus on examining biased reporting, the relationship between the media and public opinion, the position of Israel in the international media, and the position of the West Bank in international law.
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