A Biased Press is Unhealthy for a
Unfortunately, in Israel it is not only the courts that are
unhealthy, democratically speaking. The press is also
behaving in a way that is not compatible with its generally
assigned role in a healthy free society. The free media are
supposed to bring to light the truth about the events that
are taking place, and to highlight instances in which things
are not being done as they should. Instead, the press, which
is almost 100% behind the idea of making peace with Syria and
giving up the Golan even before it knows what the terms of
the deal are, is trying to advance this goal and it covers up
any hint that things are not moving as it would wish.
We do not hear anything uncomplimentary about Barak, nor have
we gotten any behind-the-scenes reports of what went on in
the first round of talks. We remain fully in the dark -- as
Prime Minister Barak prefers.
A case in point, that shows clearly how the press is guided
more by the propaganda needs of the campaign to give up the
Golan rather than the public's right to know the truth, is
the front page headline coverage that was given to remarks of
Avi Zeira, one of the heads of Golan Heights Residents
Committee and its former chairman. He was quoted as
threatening to blow up houses and bridges if forced to leave
his home. For two days the media were full of condemnations
of the threats of violence.
In fact, Zeira told Yated's Arye Zusman, "The Ha'aretz
reporter is a friend of mine. We joke around a lot about all
sorts of things. That's what happened when he asked me about
my reactions to a withdrawal [from the Golan]. . . . I
answered, jokingly of course, `What do you mean? We'll blow
up bridges and houses. We'll blow it all up to heaven.' I did
not imagine that he would take me seriously and suddenly he
quotes me in a front page headline. Go and prove that you did
not mean it. . . . It is ridiculous that I would do something
against our own interests and threaten to blow things up. [To
threaten so] is simply not in our interests. . . . The press
is against us. They are all agents of Barak."
Sadly, this gloomy assessment of Zeira's was almost
explicitly confirmed by no less than the editor of
Ma'ariv. Introducing Barak before a policy speech the
latter made to 150 members of the press, the editor said,
"Ehud Barak as prime minister is, for many of us, the
fulfillment of a goal. . . . But the final goal will be
reached only if he manages to do all the things he promised
us, the voters and citizens."
Only one voice was raised to protest that they were not there
for an election rally but a professional meeting. For most,
these remarks expressed their deepest convictions.
Yated cannot effectively serve as the crusading
press. We have neither the resources nor the clout to perform
We are quick to add that we take no position on the
desirability of withdrawing from the Golan in exchange for a
hypothetical peace offer from Syria whose terms are as yet
unknown, at least to the public. We do not speculate about
what the gedolei Yisroel will decide to recommend. But
it is clear that we are all poorer if the press does not do
its job and we do not receive the information that is needed
to make a fully informed decision.
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