Monday, September 22, 2008
Israel is Under Media Occupation
Noted Middle East expert and commentator Dr. Guy Bechor accuses Israel's media of turning itself into an "occupying force" within Israel and behaving like an unelected, yet all-powerful, political machine. In an article entitled "Down with the Occupation" that appears on his Hebrew-language website, Dr. Bechor – one of Israel's top experts on Middle Eastern affairs and a popular lecturer and interviewee – identifies a process that he says began after 2000.
"With the collapse of the Left in Israel's political system... and the tremendous disappointment from the 'peace process'," he says, "a strange process began gathering force in Israel's media, which was, to begin with, a closed club numbering about 20 movers and shakers. Strange as it may sound, this media, which is supposed to cover events and report them, took a step forward and took upon itself to represent the Left which had collapsed in the Israeli populace. It became a political party."
Media crossed the lines
"No one gave [the media] this mandate," writes Bechor – who was himself a journalist for Army Radio and other news organizations. "No Divine order was given here, and in this act, it did not represent any
"The more the Left in Israel shrank in size, the greater its influence became in the media."
democratic process, because at its core, the media in Israel is not elected and does not change. It is made up of several 'gurus' who carry on for decades, without any real change in its personal makeup."
The media in Israel, he emphasizes, "has turned into an active political force that serves as a substitute for the political parties of the past. The more the Left in Israel shrank in size, the greater its influence became in the media, although [this influence] was always hidden and camouflaged."
"Thus the Israeli media crossed the lines, and moved away from its western counterparts. Thus it also betrayed the Israeli public, which expected, and expects to this day, that it will cover events."
Anti-sephardic but Arab-idolizing
Bechor claims that young journalists who do not toe the leftist line know that they will not be promoted. While they do not tout themselves as leftists, he says, "their entire essence is just that. The disparagement of patriotism and of the military, the dislike of the government… the self-praise as a 'peace' camp, the revulsion from Middle Eastern Judaism combined with an idolization of the Arabs, and the deep-seated grudge against the Right, against Netanyahu (the Waldemort of Israeli politics) and capitalism.
Even the state-run media – Channel 1 TV, Voice of Israel Radio, IDF Radio and Educational TV – has come under the control of "the party," Bechor notes, as have Channel 10, Ha'aretz and recently Ma'ariv. "As the
"The media in Israel is made up of several 'gurus' who carry on for decades."
Israeli government is weakened and scorned, and talented people stay away from it, a vacuum is formed, into which this party media enters with great force," he says.
The media crowned Livni
The political media served as investigator and judge in the latest war in Lebanon, Bechor states, and now it has decided who will be Israel's prime minister, too, while cancelling democracy, in effect. The media, he says, strengthened Tzipi Livni, "hoisted her up with false polls, and cheered when she appeared to win. It is true that some feeble protests were heard here and there in view of the unbelievable scandals in the latest elections, but the caravan moved on, needless to say. It is easy to surmise how the same media party would have reacted if [Transport Minister Shaul] Mofaz had beat his rival by one percentage point. Indeed, the media is manipulating politicians instead of being manipulated by them."
"The politicians are terrified because these same 'commentators' and 'journalists' are stronger and more stable then they are."
The change in Israel's media over the last three decades is one that induces despair, Dr. Bechor says. "The politicians are terrified of this process, which they view with fear, because these same 'commentators' and 'journalists' are stronger and more stable then they are. The politicians depend on them and so they are afraid to talk." Bechor even adds that certain prominent female television reporters, whom he does not name, supplement their incomes by holding news panels on Sabbaths, which the politicians know they must participate in, or else.
"Because we are not a healthy society, this process proceeds smoothly," Bechor sums up. "The more powerful it becomes, the more the undemocratic disease spreads. It is time to say 'no more.'" He recommends abstaining from Israel's Hebrew language mainstream press and says that alternative media channels hold the hope for a better future.