Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5762 - December 19, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Israeli Media: It's Rav Samet's fault that He Was Killed
by Yitzchok Roth and M. Plaut

On Wednesday afternoon 6 Kislev, Elchanan Chakun, owner of Photo Alain on Yechezkel Street in Geula, pushed 71-year-old Rav Yehudah Samet several times, eventually knocking him down. Rav Samet hit his head on a police van as he was falling, and a week later died from that injury. In the aftermath, in thousands of words and many interviews, the Israeli media -- including Yediot Achronot, Ma'ariv and the government-owned Channel One Television -- bring only Chakun's side of the story, as if he were their hero. About the slain Rav Samet they ask: What was an old man doing there?

Residents of the neighborhoods in the vicinity of Rechov Yechezkel have been campaigning against the Photo Alain store for many years. Owner Chakun had been selling various movies for years to young people; some of them were obscene. Many were illegal copies. Many attempts were made by activists, residents, and local rabbonim to remove this scourge from the neighborhood, but they all came to nothing. Innocent young people continued to remain exposed to the terrible educational pitfalls of these movies.

In a series of demonstrations, the pattern had been similar. Avreichim congregated outside the store. After a while Chakun came out and physically attacked the demonstrators. Police were called but did nothing when they eventually showed up.

Because of this history, for the demonstration on that fateful Wednesday community activists hired an independent investigator to record the day's events on film. He was stationed across the street from the store, in plain view of all those present, which included the police. All the events of that day are thus recorded.

There was no widespread breast-beating in the media. There were no pundits asking how such a thing could happen. On the contrary. The accused killer became a hero and the victim was said to have brought it upon himself.

The following is based on a recent media review column published in Hatsofe. It sheds light on the Israeli press, and it is hard to understand except as coming from a burning hatred for all chareidim. It serves as an important case study in the posture of the Israeli media in reporting chareidi news. The article was entitled "Bloodshed."

"Elchanan Chakun, the Jerusalem store owner whose place of business was attacked by chareidim, shoved one of the chareidim on hand, causing injuries that later led to his death, and has since become a darling of the media, as expected. The popularity he has won is revolting: this is one of the worst moments Israeli print and broadcast journalism have ever had.

"Chakun caused the death of another human being. There is no debate over the fact that the victim did not attack the accused. The worst that can be said of [the victim] is that he was dressed in the same manner as the demonstrators. And this, a chareidi appearance, was enough to provoke an attack on a defenseless victim. The Israeli media went so far as to justify his killing.

"The media-fest reached one of its peaks in a long interview spread across several pages of Yediot Achronot's week- end supplement. Chakun was granted a completely open press opportunity. No hard questions, just revolting flattery -- this for a man who pushed another man to his death. The headline printed in Yediot for this incident in which an innocent man was pushed to his death must be seen to be believed: `What Was the Old Man Doing There?'

"This headline appeared at the top of each of the pages of the article. A few days earlier, Ephraim Sidon wrote in Ma'ariv, `Unlike most of the rioters, Elchanan Chakun, a veteran Jerusalem photographer, must make a living and support his family. He does not benefit from various budgetary allocations . . . I do not know what the deceased was doing at the storefront. It could well be that he just happened to be passing, although places with large gatherings of people, police, shouting and blows are not exactly the kind of place innocent old men rush to . . . He who plays with fire should not cry when he gets burned.'

"Now Samet is no longer crying.

"Sunday night [following the weekend coverage cited above] the alleged criminal was interviewed by a media program for a quarter of an hour. Once again, the same revolting flattery was repeated. When the attorney representing the family of the victim, Yehuda Samet z'l, sent in a response (the editors of the media program did not themselves think of the idea of soliciting a response from any of the other parties), it was read aloud to the accompaniment of the unsympathetic comments of the host of the media show, apparently for viewers who are incapable of thinking for themselves.

"Broadcasting Authority board member Avi Schmidt sent a letter to the Director-General of the Broadcasting Authority, saying, `Chakun is an accused criminal who could face charges of manslaughter of a chareidi man . . . [Here] the Broadcasting Authority [in its reporting] took one side [of a controversial issue], taking the side of Chakun.'

"This is a very grave matter: Based on the manner in which Yediot, Ma'ariv and Channel One (television) presented the incident, chareidi blood is worthless. The interviewer above condoned bloodshed, although some skeptics may roll their eyes and deny it. This is exactly what took place there. He, along with Yediot and Ma'ariv, never asked [for example] what Mohammed Dura [the 12 year old Palestinian killed in a crossfire between Palestinians and the IDF a year ago] was doing at the scene of a battle, just as they did not bother to mention that in the Nachum Korman case, the boy Chilmi Shusha did throw stones. Korman was later acquitted of causing his death. As far as settlers who are shot at are concerned -- let them die.

"The question, `What was he doing there?' is reserved for dead people whose blood is expendable, but it is not asked about armed Arabs. Kippah-wearers, the media has decided, are only allowed to die, not to defend themselves. Matti Golan (author of the antisemitic play Atom) could not have put it better."


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