Media Comment: Friedman, give us some peace

Micha Friedman is a veteran Israeli journalist whose professional media career started in the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

army radio reporter (photo credit: REUTERS)
army radio reporter
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Micha Friedman is a veteran Israeli journalist.

Born in Israel 65 years ago, Friedman’s military service was in combat units. His professional media career started in the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Thirty years ago he moved to the Galatz army radio station where he anchored the station’s premiere morning news show, Good Morning Israel, which was broadcast between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. In addition, he took part in numerous TV programs. Perhaps most notable was his three-year stint at the Educational TV station where he hosted its weekly media criticism and review show, Tik Tikshoret (Media File).
In a column published here on November 28, 2012, we discussed Friedman’s career at Galatz. We highlighted in detail his unabashed extreme left-wing opinions, expressed in many ways during his work at the station. We noted that he does not consider Israel’s soldiers “our” soldiers, preferring to be “neutral.” In an interview with the parent of a new conscript to the army he tried, via manipulative questioning, to instill doubt about the need to serve in an army whose soldiers face life-threatening situations – rather odd for an anchor on an army radio station.
On December 20, 2012, in an interview with Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, who complained about the UN ’s singling out Israeli construction in Jerusalem while ignoring the ongoing massacre of innocent civilians in Syria, Friedman had this to say: “How can you compare [the two], the Syrian situation is an internal Syrian affair while the construction in Jerusalem will kindle all of the Middle East.”
Friedman’s ethics were questionable.
He was not the affable host who gave everyone a fair chance and who made sure that anyone on the receiving end of an item would have the right of response, especially when the item dealt negatively with the Jewish population residing in Judea and Samaria.
An egregious example is from June 2010. Friedman and reporter Dana Tzuk had a story about a resident from Kedumim who took over the lands of a local Palestinian resident. The item was aired without even asking for the Israeli’s response.
As reported on the Srugim news website, Friedman opened the item with the claim that “especially when it comes to settlers, Israel’s justice system works very slowly.”
To this day, the station has not apologized for this unprofessional report and conduct.
Friedman does not like haredim (ultra-Orthodox) and lets his views be known on air. He should have had to apologize for denigrating them, stating that he certainly would not interview any haredi person for a program dealing with the Second Lebanon War, even though we all know that there are haredim who serve in the army.
After 30 years, Galatz is finally without Friedman. He has retired, but not without throwing rocks at the establishment he took advantage of for over 30 years. In a flattering interview by Yediot Aharonot – with no serious questioning from the interviewer, Amira Lam, he complained that the reason for his leaving the station is that he understood that Yaron Dekel, the station commander, is searching for a replacement.
In his “interpretation” of events, Dekel is trying to find favor with the Prime Minister’s Office, since Friedman is considered to be a leftist. Friedman complained bitterly that he felt he was in for a daily witch hunt by right-wing organizations. He cited his army service as proof of his loyalty to the country.
Perhaps the most revealing statement in his interview was: “My political views emanate from values of equality and justice, of using violent means only for self-defense. I did not take advantage of the radio to proselytize for my opinions.”
Friedman simply is not capable of looking at himself through the eyes of people who disagree with him.
It is interesting to compare the treatment of Friedman at the station with that of his colleague Avshalom Kor, Galatz’s Hebrew language expert. Kor, who since 1976 presents a daily Hebrew language corner, responded satirically two weeks ago to the recent further release of terrorists from Israeli prisons, saying, “the receptions for the murderers of children released from prison reminds me of the story about someone who became a victim of cannibals.
The chief was awarded the face and the rest of the tribe received the ears, hands and feet. When they (the Palestinians) talk to us about the main body of issues (to be discussed) soon also the body will be tossed aside.”
Haaretz, with its far-left agenda, was quite upset. It is so used to left-wing satire, and has so often justified the usage of the public airwaves to advance its post-Zionist agenda, that it came as a shock that someone would dare do the opposite.
It comes as no surprise that Kor was told unequivocally by Dekel that he is not permitted to use his Hebrew language corner for any further political statements, although he was not ordered to apologize.
There is a huge difference between Kor’s satire and Friedman’s statements, however: Kor does not present a news program.
Friedman regularly entangled news with his views.
This does not mean Kor was justified in usurping the public airwaves to air his personal opinions. But given that this is the daily accepted practice of the Israeli media, backed regularly by the ombudsmen who should know better, it is not surprising that Kor did the same, expecting that he too would be treated equally.
One would only hope that the same rule holds for all, and that Razi Barkai in his morning program, Yael Dan in the daily noon program and David Tadmor in his legal program on Galatz would also be directed to stop using the airwaves to express their personal opinions.
Pluralism at the army radio station has progressed significantly since Yaron Dekel took over the helm. This reflects itself in the social makeup of the soldiers recruited to the station, as well as in the programming.
Israel’s citizens seem to be taking kindly to Dekel’s leadership. Only this week we learned that Galatz was the leader in the ratings war, with 42.7 percent share compared with Israel’s public radio, whose share was 39%. It would seem that Friedman’s departure hardly made any impression on the public.
Dear Mr. Friedman, go into your retirement in peace and please leave us, also, in peace.
The authors are respectively vice chairman and chairman of Israel’s Media Watch (