Media Comment: The ‘peace agenda’ of Israel’s media

Israel’s media still holds Israel’s citizens hostage to the perspective of a Peres “peace” and “new Middle East.”

Map of Israel (photo credit: GOOGLE)
Map of Israel
(photo credit: GOOGLE)
On Wednesday morning last week, the day after Rosh Hashana, Aryeh Golan, anchor of Kol Yisrael radio’s morning news digest, opened the 8 a.m. broadcast with several minutes devoted to the Gaza flotilla and a march by a new NGO, Women Wage Peace.
The flotilla was an effort by 13 women. The march was supposedly by 2,000 women or, according to Haaretz, “roughly 2,000 women.” Golan awarded precious air time to a fairly insignificant number of people involved in political activity aimed at “achieving peace” or “furthering peace” or “contributing to peace.” Such phrases are favorites of a core group of media personalities who, as editors, directors, interviewers and commentators do not know how to or do not want to distinguish between their personal ideological outlook and their professional duties.
According to a news report, the march was to start from the Lebanese border at Rosh Hanikra and end in Jerusalem. Its aim was “pressuring the nation’s leaders to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.”
During each day of an expected two-week march there would be “5-10 kilometer walks.” Since the distance between those two locations is over 180 kilometers, it would seem that the marchers expected to enjoy the well-known Hassidic “contraction of the way.” Of course, the group’s self-description is “a non-partisan organization.”
Golan generously allowed the spokeswoman more than an uninterrupted minute to literally read out her group’s statement, but never asked her at that point, or informed his listening audience, just who this group was. Even the simple, but crucial element of who funds it was absent. A quick online search revealed these two charities: The Middle East Peace Dialogue Network and Ameinu – both radical and progressive entities.
At a March 5, 2015, demonstration by the group, the foreign press was informed, as Delphine Matthieussent of APF reported, that “Women Wage Peace has condemned the ‘militarization of society’ in Israel.” That is quite a different message than seeking peace, placing the group under the heading of “extremist.” That is, if Israel’s media could ever apply that adjective to any activist group other than those on the Right.
The evening television news round-up programs of the three major channels also devoted time to the flotilla effort, even, on Channel One, bringing us a short clip of Al-Jazeera’s report as “news.” However, no independent reporting was presented. Who are these women? What is their political background? Who is funding them? Their being “pro-peace” was enough to earn them friendly, non-informative coverage.
There is no real mystery here.
The death of former president and prime minister Shimon Peres, undoubtedly a towering figure even if only measured by the length of time spent in politics and government service, not to mention his Nobel Peace Prize, is an immense loss for those “peace loving” sections of Israel’s media, and was extensively covered. Peres carried the torch of “peace” at home and abroad in a way no other could. Peres was “Mr. Peace” – he even had a Peace Center named after him during his lifetime. He was the father of the “New Middle East.”
But he was also the prime mover of the Oslo Process.
There was no significant analysis of the secretive and illegal character of the talks which preceded the signing of the Oslo accords. Nor were the many hundreds of “victims of peace” in Peres’ words, who were killed as a direct result of his war for peace, afforded any mention.
Peres was such an asset to the pro-peace media that the negative aspects of his life were either downplayed, soft-sold or ignored. There was no need to recount the many descriptions and insults which Peres suffered, from Moshe Sharett, Yitzhak Rabin and many more. Would the press have done the same for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? As Haaretz’s Amira Hass reminded us last Thursday in her column, “Peres, who gave his blessing to a confidential channel of the Oslo talks, made it clear at the time that he was opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.” In a Knesset debate, Peres shouted back at then MK Moshe Katsav on November 17, 1993: “Are you deaf? I am telling you: no state of Palestine will arise.” Very few recollections of his previous outlook were analyzed. Why did he alter his worldview from promotion of an Israel-Jordan confederation and absolute opposition to an independent Palestine state to support for a terrorist state in the midst of Israel? His concept of a “New Middle East” based on shared economic cooperation failed miserably but was glossed over as well.
In the late afternoon on the day of the funeral, an item began to gain traction which was mostly ignored by the core of Israel’s mainstream media: the White House had issued a “corrected” press release removing the word “Israel” from its description of where President Barack Obama delivered his eulogy.
Longstanding US policy sees all of Jerusalem, not just the post-’67 neighborhoods, as not being under Israeli sovereignty. Israel’s media glides over this; criticism of “construction in east Jerusalem” is news. The fact that the item was not even near headline status is but another as aspect of the “peace media” hiding newsworthy themes.
The US State Department’s October 5 harsh statement, claiming that “it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and [President Obama]... prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced” to construct homes for Jews in the Shiloh Bloc, was almost celebrated in media circles. Many highlighted the “humiliation” of Netanyahu.
No one, however, informed Israel’s public that actually, Obama had double-crossed Israel by canceling the 2004 Bush-Sharon letter (which contradicted the Oslo Accords’ ARTICLE XI 1) which explicitly recognized the reality that “a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949” was not to be and that only “a small number of villages in Samaria” would need to be relocated even though “limitations on the growth of settlements” were included. Would Israel’s “peace media” embarrass Obama? The media is so “peace agenda” oriented that no one, at least in recent memory, has ever assigned an investigative reporter to find out how Peace Now obtains its information on upcoming construction plans in areas beyond the Green Line. We can recall the sharp slap the media elite awarded Channel 2’s Uvda program for exposing extreme left-wing activity in the disputed territories and the perhaps criminal behavior of Ezra Nawi back in January.
Control of language remains a powerful weapon for those promoting the “peace” agenda. In a recent lecture in Canada, Professor Richard Landes, a Bar-Ilan University Fellow, noted that the terms “right wing,” “left wing” or “moderate” are terms that are “just not descriptive of reality, it’s actually dysfunctional and makes it hard to understand the political realities we’re dealing with.”
Israel’s media still holds Israel’s citizens hostage to the perspective of a Peres “peace” and “new Middle East.”
The authors are members of Israel’s Media Watch (