A number of Israeli journalists have openly dared to reveal
and criticize the Israeli media's "conspiracy of silence,"
regarding criticism of Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak and
Writing in Ma'ariv, Yoav Yitzchak noted that
complaints are often made regarding what the political right
refers to as "the antagonistic media." Politicians blame
journalists for displaying tendentiousness, for unfounded
criticism, and worse than that, for concealing information or
hiding criticism of public figures--as long as they are
favored by the media. This question has become more pointed
during recent months. Outgoing Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu raised it over and over again, with the intention
of undermining the integrity of the media. And for this
reason, the media unleashed a relentless attack against him.
Still, according to Yoav Yitzchak, the media's conduct during
the past few weeks, proves that it indeed plays favorites.
"The media doesn't give sufficient warning against
problematic decisions taken by Prime Minister elect, Ehud
Barak, and doesn't go out of its way, to say the least, to
reveal what should be disclosed," he wrote. "It refrains
from presenting these decisions to the public in the front
pages of the paper, denying them their right to discuss them.
Barak merits a friendly press, which currently prefers to
take a catnap, now that the storm of the elections has
subsided. "The press refrains from bearing its teeth, unlike
after Netanayhu' election."
For example: the appointment of Dani Yatom, the outgoing head
of the Mossad, as the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minster's
office. This is a senior and very sensitive position; Yatom
will have to deal with such things as negotiations with
Syria. Certainly anyone who holds this office should be free
of significant failures. "But guess what! This appointment
passed by quietly. Except for a few journalists who mentioned
Yatom's past, the press at large displayed no opposition to
the appointment. It said nothing about Yatom's failures in
his position as the head of the Mossad--two of which forced
him to resign from his position: the Mishal affair and the
arrest of the Israeli agents in Switzerland. "Those two
episodes caused heavy political damage to Israel," Yitzchak
"Examination of newspaper cuttings from that period, show
that in 1998, the press put much of the responsibility for
those gaffes on Yatom himself, and demanded that Netanyahu
terminate Yatom's term of office. Netanyahu did so, and the
affair ended with Yatom's official resignation. "Now, the
press is suffering from collective amnesia, evident from the
fact that it has refused to raise the topic of Yatom's
The writer also mentioned the Defense portfolio affair. A few
weeks ago, Barak announced his decision to reserve the
Defense portfolio for himself. During the current coalition
negotiations Barak, as the elected Prime Minster, explained
to his potential partners, that he had decided to keep the
Defense portfolio for himself in order to enable himself to
promote the peace talks more effectively.
"It is interesting to note that in the past, Barak believed
just the opposite," Yitzchak wrote. In 1995, after the murder
of Yitzchak Rabin, he pressed then Prime Minister, Shimon
Peres, not to hold the Defense portfolio. Barak wanted it for
himself. He then presented a long list of ideological and
practical reasons why it was not right or proper for a Prime
Minster to hold the Defense portfolio. Peres rejected his
reasons, but Barak continued to maintain them. Until now."
Yitzchok also questioned the appointment of several of
Barak's good friends to key positions in his government. Some
of the appointees have been linked to alleged business
improprieties--yet the press does not seem to care. In
conclusion, Yitzchak mentioned the issue of election funding.
The police Fraud Investigation Unit is currently gathering
evidence on organizations that promoted Barak's candidacy for
the Prime Minister. The "explosive" issue is liable to
embarrass One Israel in general, and Barak in particular, for
allegedly benefitting from illegal sources of funding. "Here
too, it is interesting to note that the press in general,
refrains from giving adequate coverage to these suspicions,"
Another veteran journalist condemned his colleagues whose
political views influence their professional work. Razi
Barkai charged that many journalists are openly gratified
that they brought about the political revolution with their
own hands--something that may befit a campaign strategist,
but not a supposedly "impartial" journalist. "Some of us have
stopped being journalists, and have become peacocks," he says
about the recent period in the world of Israeli journalism.
"I didn't like their style of writing and broadcasting during
the three weeks prior to elections. Some of the things which
were said and aired during this period were un-journalistic
in a very disconcerting manner."
These journalists "forgot that the Likud is a legitimate
movement," and that "Binyamin Netanyahu, whether they like it
or not, was elected in 1996 in democratic elections." Its no
wonder, Barkai said, that Netanayahu is full of complaints
about the press.
Barkai was asked if, nonetheless, anything can be said in
favor of the journalists who fought against Netanyahu not
because they feared losing their positions, but because, as
citizens, they feared another term with Netanyahu in
To this Barkai replied: "I don't accept that. I'm a
journalist. Period. I have political views. But I chose a
profession which has qualifying factors. Some of the
journalists have forgotten their profession. If one has
decided for example, to be a judge, then from the moment he
takes office, there are things which he simply can't do. It
is interesting that people like fighting journalists."
"I am familiar with the thesis which states that a journalist
is also a citizen. He's also part of the State. In one of his
background discussions, Ehud Barak told the reporters, `Don't
forget your civic conscience when you broadcast.' Very funny!
Does he also think that we should attack him based on that
very same civic responsibility?"