Monday, October 31, 2011

The people demand media justice

Dror Eydar

This summer we heard those crowned as "protest leaders" speak out about "social justice" and a "welfare state," and call out some anti-Netanyahu slogans as well. The government did not remain silent and established an appropriate committee, whose conclusions were taken seriously and brought before the cabinet for a vote. We are not naive though. From the beginning, we knew that even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took us back to the dark days of the Mapai welfare state, the protest would continue. That is because the problem is not the economy, stupid, it is the government! The protest has always been political and all the clever social slogans will not help disguise that fact. The irony is that if the Left won the elections, the protests would end.

This week, they tried to renew the protests. They will remain with us as long as the media fuels them and provides silly press conferences in which Daphni Leef threatens the prime minister, saying, "This is the last time I will address you, Bibi."
Take note of the fact that those who address him as "Bibi" are generally not his supporters. "Bibi" is meant to belittle and degrade. It is the same method used by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, who despises Netanyahu. We do not hear about "Shimon" (Peres) or "Benny" (Gantz).

As our sages said, "There is no school of learning that does not discover something new." The second round of protests is not without its "new discovery" as well - the target this time will be the national media. Suddenly the protest leaders are concerned about the cultural quality of the public broadcasting. As Leef is quoted on the Yedioth Ahronoth web site, "We are living in a reality in which the prime minister has his own newspaper. Does that remind you of anything? Perhaps a different type of regime? He also has a TV station, whose directors he appoints."

I do not know whether to laugh or cry. The Left has always excelled in the use of this method - repeat the lie ad infinitum, and people will begin to believe it. There are three newspapers, two TV stations, and quite a few radio channels - all properly aligned with the Left and hostile to the government and coalition, and all allotting an unprecedented amount of prime time not only for the protests, but also for announcing the agendas of upcoming protest rallies. Israel Hayom also provided a decent podium for the protest organizers. But unlike in other forums, there was room here for opposition to them as well.

Alas, the voices of opposition. Did we hear the real-time voices of those who opposed the Oslo Accords? Those who opposed the horrific uprooting of Gush Katif, the results of which continue to haunt southern residents today? Did we hear the voices of those who opposed a Shalit deal over the past five years? Did we hear criticism of the protests and those leading them? Did someone investigate their sources of finance and political affiliations?

Despite the mountain of microphones that are constantly focused on every word she says, Leef wailed, "We are living in a reality in which our privilege to rely on the media as the watchdog of our nation and democracy is being taken away from us." It is the exact opposite. The media's vision, which Leef and her cohorts desire, existed not so long ago - monolithic, Pravda-like journalism, which advanced only the causes to which the white tribe subscribed; journalism that demeaned any conservative, neoconservative, national, Jewish idea; journalism that is extremely alienated from the government and coalition, despite the fact that a majority of the public supports them.

Israel Radio, Channel 1, and the national radio channels, require serious change. They need to give more air time to journalists with ideas other than those we have gotten used to hearing until now. Media directors know that. It would be simple justice after years of injustice and silencing. Israeli society has had enough of the political and cultural one-sidedness that it encounters every time it turns on the TV or radio.

What we saw last week at the hands of the protest leaders was yet another attempt at "media terrorism" directed at station operators. The idea was to slander them into maintaining the Leftist slant in the voices of those who grace their microphones.

Criticism by protest leaders concerning the national media indicates which political side they are on. They do not really care about social justice. They are more concerned with maintaining minority control over Israeli public opinion. Not any more. The public is demanding media justice.

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