Media comment: Creeping anti-Zionism in Israel’s media

In recent years, a variety of groups have been monitoring the anti-Zionism embedded in Israeli academic circles.

A VENDOR sells newspapers in South Africa.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A VENDOR sells newspapers in South Africa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An anti-Zionist malaise has always existed, especially among Jewish society elites. Lord Edwin Montague, British secretary of state for India, attempted to sabotage the Balfour Declaration, telling prime minister Lloyd George, “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto.
You want to force me back there.” Judah L. Magnes, Hebrew University president, sought to restrict Jewish immigration in the 1930s.
On the eve of statehood on May 4, 1948, he suggested to US secretary of state George Marshall and then to president Harry Truman that contributions from Americans to Israel be “cut off” and that America “impose... financial sanctions.”
In recent years, a variety of groups have been monitoring the anti-Zionism embedded in Israeli academic circles. The bad joke is that whereas scholars in the fields of a wide range of scientific spheres of study gather together out of a sincere love of their chosen subject, Israel-related conferences are packed with those who very much are hostile to Israel and Zionism.
The Im Tirzu NGO, for example, produced a study of the bibliography suggested by lecturers for their university courses on themes of Israel history and Zionism. The mandatory reading was found to be biased, one-sided and politically motivated in favor of what we could term “Palestinianism.” The significant presence of academics on media talk shows and discussion panels has to varying degrees naturally led the anti-Zionist vogue to spill over into the media. The influence is pervasive and it is not surprising that too many in our media then provide platforms for its dissemination.
This past Saturday evening, Rina Matzliach, political correspondent of Channel Two television, interviewed Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Her next-to-last question touched upon the “Milky Affair,” the Facebook initiative of an Israeli who emigrated to Berlin (after trying out Paris) and claimed that his main motivation for doing so was the lower price of the chocolate-flavored pudding in Germany.
She opened her question by stating that “the young Israelis do not find their place in Israel any more.” She could have said “some Israeli youth” or “what appears to be a growing number,” or, even better, “the media is painting the picture that large numbers of young Israelis are leaving.” But she didn’t. She preferred the negative construct, as if Israeli youth were moving overseas en masse.
If she had bothered to read Haaretz, she would have seen in its economic section, The Marker, the headline of Lior Dattel’s October 14 story. It read: “Israeli emigration slowing down, despite fears of ‘Berlin aliya.’” Dattel informed us that “despite the ‘Milky scare,’ only a few thousand Israelis live in Berlin.”
Had she read the first paragraph of the article, she would have learned that “despite concerns over a wave of emigration from Israel...
figures show that the rate of emigration has slowed dramatically, and that in 2012 the rate was the lowest since the state was established.
Emigration is also low in comparison to member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
But that would have interfered with the drama she sought to inject into her interview, if not the overtly anti-Israel message she was projecting. Matzliach was not seeking information but using her prime-time slot to present an untruth.
Dattel’s story in Haaretz, however, was itself an exception. Other stories in Haaretz attempted to inflate the emigration story. Typical headlines were: “Israel’s leaders are to blame for the emigration to Berlin” (October 10, 2014); “Poll: One-third of Israelis think about leaving” (September 7, 2014); “The right has turned Israel into a hopeless place,” (October 13, 2014).
Sever Plutzker, a senior journalist writing in Yediot Aharonot, was more professional. He looked up the facts. Unemployment is twice as high in Berlin as in Israel, and life expectancy in Israel is 82.3 vs. 80 years in Berlin. While a typical food purchase in Tel Aviv cost $480 vs.
$390 in Berlin, a typical clothing purchase was $580 in Tel Aviv vs. $710 in Berlin. In other words, much ado about nothing. Some things are better in Berlin, others in Israel. But Mazliach and her cohorts had no use for the facts; they were promoting an agenda.
Haaretz’s main agenda, as we have documented in our columns, is the dismantling of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, supporting the agenda of the Palestinian Authority and bringing down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Its headlines are repeated over the radio and senior TV and radio staff all too often select their stories and their interviewees mostly from its pages.
Haaretz’s bias was starkly displayed this week in its English-language edition. As blogger Elder of Ziyon pointed out, when describing Jewish attempts to enter the Temple Mount, three Arab news websites, Al Arabiya, Al Bawaba and Ma’an, used quotes around the word “attacks” or used the less inflammatory term “provocations” in their headlines for the Jewish actions. But Haaretz had one up on them; it not only used the term “attack” but also added the accusation that the only Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount are “settlers.” Haaretz refers to the Temple Mount as “al-Aksa.”
Al Jazeera’s October 17 headline was simply: “Rift over access to al-Aksa ignites clashes”; Haaretz was more anti-Israel than some typically anti-Israel Arab media.
Haaretz was not always so. A former editor, Hanoch Marmari, while clearly left wing, always knew where to draw the line between valid criticism and anti-Zionism. Marmari is today the editor of the Israel Democracy Institute’s The Seventh Eye online journal.
In an article which appeared on October 12 he opened by asking whether some editorial decisions were not a result of “self-decapitation.”
He continued by insisting that today’s Haaretz is infected by a “virus” which “creates provocations” and has developed into a “pandemic” condition resulting from a “poisonous mushroom” in the paper.
He saved his most cutting criticism, however, for a demand by reporter Chaim Levinson to basically dumb down the Hebrew language.
At Israel’s Media Watch we have compiled a list of foreign words in use over our electronic broadcasting networks. The words used have equivalent Hebrew language terms, but the foreign terminology is preferred. Some typical examples are: “vacuum,” “militant,” “comeback” and “spin,” “attractive,” “element,” “picnic” and “popular.” This preference for the English language is a stab in the back of the revival of the Hebrew language, one of the central successes of the Zionist movement.
As Ben-Dror Yemini wrote last September 22 in his Ynet column on whether Israel’s democracy is in danger, in essence the real danger to the country’s democratic fabric is “Leftists obsessed with telling the world that Israel is becoming more racist and more fascist, and to hell with the facts.” And that is the essence of Israel’s media anti-Zionism.
The authors are respectively vice chairman and chairman of Israel’s Media Watch (