Israeli Media: Unwitting Accomplices of the Occupation?

The London review of Books published an interesting and eye-opening article on the way in which the Israeli media unwittingly (?) reinforces the linguistic universe of the occupation.

A year ago I applied for the job of Occupied Territories correspondent at Ma’ariv, an Israeli newspaper. I speak Arabic and have taught in Palestinian schools and taken part in many joint Jewish-Palestinian projects. At my interview the boss asked how I could possibly be objective. I had spent too much time with Palestinians; I was bound to be biased in their favour. I didn’t get the job. My next interview was with Walla, Israel’s most popular website. This time I did get the job and I became Walla’s Middle East correspondent. I soon understood what Tamar Liebes, the director of the Smart Institute of Communication at the Hebrew University, meant when she said: ‘Journalists and publishers see themselves as actors within the Zionist movement, not as critical outsiders.’

This is not to say that Israeli journalism is not professional. Corruption, social decay and dishonesty are pursued with commendable determination by newspapers, TV and radio. That Israelis heard exactly what former President Katsav did or didn’t do with his secretaries proves that the media are performing their watchdog role, even at the risk of causing national and international embarrassment. Ehud Olmert’s shady apartment deal, the business of Ariel Sharon’s mysterious Greek island, Binyamin Netanyahu’s secret love affair, Yitzhak Rabin’s secret American bank account: all of these are freely discussed by the Israeli media.

When it comes to ‘security’ there is no such freedom. It’s ‘us’ and ‘them’, the IDF and the ‘enemy’; military discourse, which is the only discourse allowed, trumps any other possible narrative. It’s not that Israeli journalists are following orders, or a written code: just that they’d rather think well of their security forces.

To read more, click here.

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2 responses to “Israeli Media: Unwitting Accomplices of the Occupation?

  1. Yoni makes a few good points, but overall he loses major credibility in my eyes for several reasons:

    1. The use of scare terms like “apartheid” and “bantustan.” Israel is not an apartheid state. There are no bantustans in Israel. By introducing those terms to what is supposed to be an intelligent article, he destroys the potential for rational discussion by appealing solely to readers with an agenda.

    2. His statement that he taught at Palestinian schools makes it sound as if he worked in the occupied territories. He did not. He taught at Arab schools in Israel.

    3. Bibi’s love affair was more than a decade ago, and no-one cares about it anymore.

    4. Furthermore, the media did NOT do its job re. the Katsav story. Quite the opposite, in fact: prominent journalists who covered the Knesset and the President’s Residence knew for nearly two decades that Katsav was a sexual predator, but they kept silent.

    5. There is no president of Palestine because there is no State of Palestine. There is a Palestinian Authority.

    6. It is completely untrue that the Israeli media is uncritical of the army. Channel 10’s Alon Ben David, for example, was highly critical of the IDF during the Second Lebanon War.

    7. The comparison between a suicide bombing in an Israel city and an IDF operation in Gaza is intellectually weak, at best. The purpose of an IDF operation is not to kill civilians it is to kill armed militants. Civilians get killed during those operations because they take place in densely population urban areas. Suicide bombers, on the other hand, are specifically sent into urban areas in order to kill civilians. Suicide bombers do not detonate themselves in army bases, for example.

    I could go on, but I’ve got stuff to do. 😉

  2. I agree 100% with Lisa’s comment. I really don’t see why this article is “eye-opening article”… it’s more anti-Zionist propaganda: I’ve been to Israel several times, and trust me, there ain’t a more critical people than the Israelis. I could give examples but #6 in Lisa’s comment says it all…

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