Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Journalist, Another Left-Wing Politician

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Another left-wing journalist has joined politics. Haaretz correspondent Daniel Ben Simon follows the lead of Knesset Member Shelly Yechimovich, who worked for years as a Voice of Israel government radio reporter and television journalist, and the late Tommy Lapid. Ben Simon's switch lends weight to charges that most of the Israeli media leans left, and media personnel increasingly have openly admitted their bias. MK Yechimovich recently said on Voice of Israel government radio that she is proud that journalists used their positions in the media to influence Israel government policies, including the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. The retreat left a vacuum of power that gave Hizbullah a free hand to build up its military in southern Lebanon and wage the Second Lebanon War against Israel two summers ago.

Following the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and the destruction of their communities three years ago, many journalists admitted they protected former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from too much criticism in order not to jeopardize his position and the expulsion plan.

Ben Simon, a member of Labor, wrote in his parting article from the newspaper that he "entered journalism to help shape Israeli society." He added, "I used any available platform to warn of the increasing inequality and loss of solidarity."

Lapid, who died last week, founded the fiercely secular Shinui party after a long career as a journalist. After studying in university, he wrote for a Hungarian language newspaper and then worked for Ma'ariv, where he later became a member of the editorial staff.

As a journalist, he continually derided the funding of religious institutions and publicly campaigned for separation religion from the government. He eventually quit and started the Shinui party, which garnered 15 mandates in the 2003 elections but then disintegrated.

MK Yechimovich admitted in a recent newspaper interview last year, "As a journalist I was also very political. I always viewed my job as a journalist as having to set an agenda. I aim to influence the political and social agenda."
As a journalist I was also very political. I always viewed my job as a journalist as having to set an agenda.

The Labor MK was openly leftist as a journalist although respectful of rabbis and Jewish tradition. She is known as a hard-working and intellectually honest politician who does her homework, similar to her reputation as a journalist.

MK Yechimovich also has stated that the Labor party should not have let itself become so close to Kadima. She was one of the first and most vocal Labor MKs to call on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign because of the ongoing criminal investigations against him.

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