History of Israel's
Broadcasting Authority: a Politically Left-leaning (Relativistic, Revisionist)
Israel Broadcasting Authority’s obligations as a quasi-governmental institution
include: objectivity, prevention of the politicization of the Authority,
fairness, equality, no conflict of interests, and integrity in its decisions".
-- Aaron Barak,
President of Israel’s
Supreme Court, Speech,
May 13, 1996.
media sees its role not only to report to its viewers and listeners and
to comment on the news, that is, to act as an agent, but to direct and
manage the news so as to set the public agenda. The news becomes an instrument
to be manipulated. This is a mobilized media and in the end, one
that presents a danger to democracy.
-- Israel’s Media
broadcasting: Reporting or Managing the News ?
by Yisrael Medad
& Prof. Eli Pollak
In the final days
of Israel’s 1996 election campaign, Channel One television broadcast for
a few days a promo for "Public Poll", a discussion show which also allowed
for the home-viewing audience to "vote" and express their opinions.
The program which was to be aired on Tuesday, May 21, was to have dealt
with the topic "The Media - Balanced or Leftist?". No one,
it seems, thought that the media could possibly be rightist. In any
case, the show, unexpectedly, was canceled Monday, the day before it was
to have been broadcast. The reason published by media reporters was
that certain elements within the IBA had expressed opposition to the show’s
make-up and guests.
This example highlights
the complexity and problematics of researching the topic of Israel’s broadcasting
media. The ability of senior employees of the IBA to prevent an open
and public discussion of such an issue and to remove it from the public
agenda points to the fact that the media has engaged itself not only in
reporting the news but to manage and direct that public agenda.
This study is intended
to describe the increasing influence of the broadcast media on the political
life of the state of Israel and the bias that exists in its reporting and
its management of public affairs deliberations - the very essence of democratic
dialogue for which the press assumes responsibility by championing the
public’s right to know.
Israel’s Broadcast Media - An Overview
Until 1965, the broadcasts
of Radio Kol Yisrael were administered a government unit within the Prime
Minister’s Office. In that year, the Broadcasting Authority Law was
passed, creating an independent body to produce electronic broadcasts although
the Director-General and the members of the Public Council of the IBA,
the "plenum", are appointed by the Government. The law was expanded
in 1969 to accommodate the reality of television broadcasting which first
began that year.
A full 85% of the
IBA’s budget (700 NIS in 1998) is based on a fee paid by the public for
every television set and radio they purchase.
In 1990, an additional
piece of legislation was passed which established a Second Radio and television
Authority which broke the monopoly long enjoyed by the IBA, a quasi-government
institution. Although the Second TV Authority is commercial and funded
through advertising revenue, it too is supervised by a public committee
appointed by the Minister of Education and Culture. The Second Channel’s
news programs are produced by a company formed by the station’s three broadcast
production concessionaires which, together, provide its budget.
The IBA broadcasts
one terrestrial TV station, Channel One, and another, Channel 33, which
is cable. The programs are mainly in Hebrew with a fixed Arab-language
schedule. The radio broadcasts include some dozen stations including
seven in Hebrew, one beamed to the Diaspora, another for Russian and Ethiopian
immigrants and others for educational purposes. The Second Authority
provides one terrestrial TV station, Channel Two, a cable station, Channel
23, intended for educational programming and some 15 local and regional
The broadcasts of
the Israel Educational Television Network (IET), considered a integral
unit of the Education Ministry and responsible to the Minister, are carried
over both the First and Second TV channels during the morning and afternoon
hours. The Defense Minister is responsible for the Israel Army Radio
(Galatz) which broadcasts on both AM and FM frequencies. In a formal sense,
the non-army programs of Galatz are supervised as to media ethics standards
by the IBA’s executive committee, as set forth in Paragraph 48b of the
Another media phenomenon
which should be noted is that of radio stations which have not received
their frequency through lawful procedure. The veteran Israeli
peace activist, Abbey Natan, began transmitting from a ship anchored off-shore
in the early 1980s, following the Lebanese Campaign. In 1988, another
station, Arutz 7, followed suit. At present, according to Ministry
of Communications reports as well as police announcements, it is thought
that approximately 120-140 additional stations broadcast from land. These
stations reflect mainly Arab, ultra-Orthodox and Oriental music lovers.
They provide transmission content which cannot be adequately found in the
official public broadcast stations.
Referring to this,
Professor Rina Shapira, Chairperson of the IBA (1995-98), commented during
a special seminar held at the Israel Democratic Institute:
"We do not maintain
an adequate dialogue with various communities and therefore, a religious
network, and a Russian network and a Shas network will may arise.
The television [broadcasts] do not even attempt to reach a common denominator.
For all intents and
purposes, the electronic broadcast media in Israel, that is, the radio
and television, are "public". The first reason for that is that the
government appoints the public representatives to the supervisory committees
of the two authorities. Secondly, the vast majority of the current
affairs and news broadcasts are run by government-related bodies.
It was only in January 1998 that regional radio stations were permitted
by law to broadcast independently news programs not originating in the
news rooms of either Kol Yisrael or Galatz.
Still, Israel’s High
Court of Justice has not deviated from its judicial tradition to uphold
the supreme independence of broadcasting’s freedom of expression.
The Court has minimized to the utmost any possible interference in the
internal editorial decisions and judgments of the various media, acting
according to the principle of no prior restraint.
Where Is Public Broadcasting?
There are those who
are of the opinion that instead of public broadcasting, what has ultimately
evolved over the years is an unwelcome development in the nature and practice
of Israel’s electronic broadcasting.
One outspoken critic
of the broadcast media, and especially the IBA, is Ben-Dror Yemini. According
to Yemini, who defines himself as a leftist and opponent of the Likud government’s
social and settlement policies, there exists a despotism in the public
broadcast field and has termed several of its leading personalities as
"broadcast barons". He has described the relationship between the
public and the presumed public broadcasting system as:
is broadcasting in which the public holds stock and asserts supervision...in
the public sense, the stockholders are all the citizens that pay
the license fee and other taxes. But when it comes to the public
sphere, these stockholders [unlike members of a company directorate] possess
no supervision and neither to their representatives possess any real control.
The barons and hooligans of the freedom of expression...warn us of ‘political
interference’ in broadcasting...they desire that the ‘freedom of expression’
remain as their private domain... there is a need to strengthen the public
broadcasting also by allowing the public’s representatives greater power
in the supervisory bodies. And this must take place in order that freedom
of expression be increased as well as limiting the freedom to express".
In another of his
articles following upon the Gabi Butbol Affair (2*), Yemini published the
"the First Television
Channel...belongs to Masuda from Sderot just as belongs to
Fatma of Arar’ah and Motti from Rehavia. There are those in the IBA
who do not prepared to accept this basic fact. For them, it is assumed
that ‘freedom of expression’ is their own private fiefdom and that only
they can do what they want with it. Anyone who seeks to say something
different becomes in their eyes a danger to democracy and to the country.
In the framework of this brainwashing, they make sure that only what they
want is said...media democracy is not just the ratings but the democracy
of representatives who will bring about that the media provide expression
for all in a variety of public preferences. In the present condition,
when the power is in the hands of a clique, the result is tyranny". (3)
And in another piece
on the affair, Yemini wrote:
"the believers in
freedom of expression have become those who hide information. An affair
that should have reached newspaper headlines, has become something that
never was...indeed, freedom of expression is an important foundation in
democratic society. If the collective silencing of this unfortunate
affair reflects the freedom of expression in Israel, then we have a serious
problem. Liberal terrorism has bested democracy, and in the same
opportunity has buried freedom of expression". (4)
Another element of
the cultural restrictiveness exercised by the electronic broadcast system
is the obsessive chase after news and the emphasizing and what many would
consider the constant rehashing of current affairs. Kol Yisrael’s
main radio station, Reshet Bet, which boasts the highest listener rating,
broadcasts every weekday over 11 hours of news and discussion programming
between 6AM and 12:15 AM. This includes four hours of back-to-back
interview shows between 8 AM and 12 AM and seven hours of studio roundup
and one hour devoted to analyzing foreign news reports..
The situation in
Galatz is not much different. Every weekday, between 7 AM and midnight,
the Army radio station broadcasts four hours of back-to-back interview
shows, paralleling those of Reshet Bet, and another four hours of studio
The average listener
cannot then escape the frame of reference which is set by the radio directors
which is a veritable tom-tom of news and current affairs discussion and
interviews with politicians and other leading personalities, minute after
minute, hour after hour, over and over.
The Ideological Identity and Credibility of Israel’s Media
In an article which
appeared in The Seventh Eye, the bimonthly magazine devoted to media criticism,
edited by Ha’Aretz columnist Uzi Benzamin and published by the Israel Democracy
Institute, Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s leading newspapermen, related
to the matter of the character identity of Israel’s media in the aftermath
of the 1996 elections:
"It is doubtful whether
the majority of the journalists were to be considered ‘with Peres’, but
for sure they were anti-Netanyahu... Netanyahu had to overcome a hostile
that, as Barnea further pointed out, that "Netanyahu was forced to deal
with two fronts - against the Labor Party and against the media", stems
from an open secret and that is that the overwhelming majority of journalists,
reporters, editors, interviewers, radio and TV talk show hosts as well
as broadcasting directors and producers can be defined, in Israeli terms,
as "leftist". This definition includes the adoption of political, economic,
social and religious viewpoints that place them within the leftist camp.
This camp was delineated
by Chanoch Marmari, editor of the prestigious liberal Ha’Aretz:
"We, the people who
populate the printed and electronic media, belong to a small, elitist,
well-off, urban and secular group. The press...tends naturally to
lean towards those political elements that express and fulfill these positions,
most of them within the sphere of the Labor-Meretz parties. The media
followed with support and even enthusiasm the peace process...it was not
difficult to distinguish the natural bias of many media personnel towards
the political left and an almost fully comprehensible sympathy in favor
of the peace makers - Rabin and Peres" (6)
that the electronic media would unfairly intervene in the 1996 election
campaign caused a group of leading intellectuals and literary figures,
from the full spectrum of Israeli political opinion, to publish a newspaper
advertisement on both May 1 and 2 in the three main dailies. The ad, entitled
"Out of Concern for Israel’s Democratic Character", (7) called upon Israel’s
media professionals "to place the obligation to democracy and political
fair play above your personal inclinations for this or that side.
Journalists must draw a clear line between their right to express their
opinions in op-ed columns and between their tasks as news editors and interviewers".
The ad, as expected, stirred up public controversy regarding the ideological
identity of media personnel in Israel.
On May 2, 1996, Shelly
Yechimovitz, broadcasting on her Kol Yisrael’s Reshet Bet station interview
program, forthrightly stated that "let’s be open about it for a moment,
and admit to the simple fact that most of the media persons in Israel are
leftists. Left? They either vote Labor or Meretz". Her
guest, then IBA Director-General, Mordechai Kirschenbaum, reacted and said,
"I don’t want to deal in statistics. I am not sure that in the IBA,
throughout its stations, that that is the situation. But it is true
that most of the journalists, not only here but most newspeople throughout
the Western world are very liberal people. They are people who are
very liberal, and avant-garde and open-minded and due to this, it is quite
possible that there are perceived as being identified as being Left".
one of the media’s outstanding personalities (8) has constantly been outspoken
on this matter with no guilt feelings. In an interview with Oshrat
Kotler of the Second Authority (9), Yechimovitz was adamant on the leftist
orientation of the Israel media:
"...I also do not
believe in objectivity. This is a hypocritical and mendacious term...(and
concerning) this claim that ‘the media is leftist’...the time has come
to admit to the facts - the media is indeed leftist. Place a ballot
box in any media office and the results will be clear: from center to the
left. The press dialogue in Israel is not a public dialogue and the
alienation that exists between the public and the media reaches new heights
every day. There is total lack of confidence...and it’s true...the sole
solution to this alienation is the entry of right-wing journalists into
the media. "The mobilization of the media in 1992 in favor of the
election of Rabin was an unprofessional mobilization, clearly. The
‘Operation Grapes of Wrath’ for example, that problematic campaign, did
not receive the criticism due it because Shimon Peres was Prime Minister
at the time".
During a discussion
evening open to the public hosted by the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem
on January 11, 1996, Hebrew University’s Professor Ehud Sprinzak, a noted
observer of Israel’s right-wing politics, confirmed that the claims that
Israel’s media was hostile to the rightist camp were basically correct.
According to his interpretation, this hostility stemmed from the culture
weltanschauung of the media personnel more than any strictly political
After the elections,
Ha’Aretz political reporter Orit Galili, was a guest on the media critique
program "No Man’s Land" that was devoted to analyzing the media’s performance
during the elections. Asked to comment, Galili said:
"The press was completely
mobilized on behalf of Peres, absolutely so...I feel personally a professional
failure and I think that the failure was collective... the milieu of the
regime and the journalists together, and with the campaign managers, when
they all rubbed shoulders one with another, and each feeding off the other,
[led] in the end one could see what was in the guts of the people. The
preference of the media was for Peres...the solution is more limits, more
criticism, more listening." (10)
On that same program
in the following year, the political commentator of Ma’ariv, Menachem Chami
Shalev, admitted that "it was no secret that most of the journalists did
not support Netanyahu". (11)
The prime example
of a media person combining his ideological leanings and his professional
work is Aharon Goldfinger, the former producer of the "Popolitika" program,
the central current affairs show on Channel One. Upon the conclusion of
the broadcast of the program on November 6, 1995, two days after the assassination
of Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Goldfinger declared "I will pursue them,
the Likud, and you can even quote me on that". (12) In rising anger
at the way the regular panel members performed in not attacking the Likud
aggressively, he shouted at them that as long as he was producer of Popolitika,
no program under his supervision would allow the right-wing to win. (13)
It was, ironically,
Shimon Peres, in a televised interview, who expressed the general exasperation
of many politicians, both left and right, at the lack of media credibility.
In response to a report by the senior commentator of TV’s Channel One,
Amnon Avramovitz, Peres retorted:
"Who says that this
material is at all reliable? And I tell you, the time has come
for the press to step down off its pedestal of ‘faked martyrdom’ and become
responsible for what it reports. This is a calamity what they are
Opinion vis-a-vis the Media
A poll conducted
by the Geocartographia Institute, at the behest of the a local news weekly
(15), amongst a representative selection of 620 interviewees, responded
to questions dealing with the political leanings of the television media
personnel of both channels. The results were as follows:
- 28% - neutral; 33% - leftist; 8% - rightist.
- 41% neutral; 19% - rightist; 9% - leftist.
Another poll, this
time from the Gallop Organization, was commissioned by IMW, showed that,
like the previous one, that most Israelis consider their media to be leftist.
Carried out on June 6, 1996 amongst 505 interviewees of the adult Jewish
population, the replies were very informative.
Asked "did the electronic
media prove itself objective during the election?", 50% said no; 39% said
yes; 11% had no opinion. Of those who believed the media was not
objective, 74% believed they favored the left-wing; 6% thought they favored
the right-wing and 8% had no opinion. A third question was asked
about reporters involving their own political outlooks in their work.
Twenty-six per cent said to a large degree; 44% said yes; 18% responded
no; 4% said not all and 8% had no opinion. They were also queried
whether they would support, given the nature of electronic media as a public
network, a private media company broadcasting news programs. Sixty-six
per cent said yes; 22% opposed and 12% had no opinion.
Dr. Yaakov Katz,
director of the Community Research Institute of Bar-Ilan University, the
sole pollster to predict exactly the nature of Netanyahu’s election victory,
published results of a survey collected in December 1996. Asked if Israel’s
mass media networks relate in an objective fashion to the activities of
the Netanyahu government, 77% replied in the negative and 17% in the positive.
The representative sampling was 1250, a larger-than-usual number.
Another survey published in the summer of 1996, the results of which were
broadcast on the "Another Matter" current affairs program on Kol Yisrael,
showed that despite the fact that while some 90% of the populace believes
that the mass media is necessary, 50% consider the media to be leftist,
unfair and that its freedom should be restricted in some fashion.
Yet another poll
whose findings were broadcast on that same program on January 16, 1997
indicated that while a majority consider the electronic media to be more
reliable than the written press, 83% of those polled thought that the media
should limit itself to simply reflecting reality by reporting the news
and not be engaged in criticism. The television received the highest
rating of media instruments that influence, 78%, but nevertheless, only
38% were of the opinion that its reports were credible.
A Gallup poll taken
amongst a sampling of 497 persons from the adult Jewish population (16)
asked "to what degree you have trust in the following institutions?".
The media ended up in last place following the IDF, the Supreme Court,
the police and the Knesset. The specific breakdown was: 13% - full
trust; 16% - trust; 40% - certain trust; 14% - little trust; 15% - no trust
and 2% with no opinion. On that same theme, the "Peace Index Project",
conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel
Aviv University, released data on its own poll on the public’s trust in
state institutions (17). The findings, supervised by Prof. Ephraim
Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann and executed by Modiin Ezrahi, indicated that
whereas the court system received a 78% rating and the police 70%, the
media received only 53%. In a previous "Peace Index" survey published
in August 1996, the media received but 49% of the public’s trust.
Orit Shochat, a political
commentator for the Ha’Aretz daily, published an article which confirmed
that leftists themselves are quite well aware of the general perception
identifying the public broadcasting system with left-wing ideology.
She wrote, in part:
"Every time the right
achieves power, it is dismayed to discover that the reporters, the news
presenters and the talk show hosts remain in the Left...the problem
is that even after they privatize [the IBA], the majority of the
media will remain leftist in spirit. Journalists, directors, satirists,
producers, show hosts and broadcasters in Israel and the world, in public
as well as commercial networks, tend to position themselves to the left
of the political map".
And Shochat adds:
"this is a sociological
Ron Meiberg, writing
about the period of Summer-Fall 1996, provides the source for the public’s
opinion that Israel’s mass media is left: "As journalists and as opinionated
people, we never were so mobilized to bring down the Prime Minister and
to hold up for show his idiotic behavior. In the meantime, this hasn’t
turned out the way we wanted, and the public is not displaying any love
for us". (19)
Meiberg, along with
his companion columnist, Amnon Dankner, pointed out another instance of
the sympathetic attitude shown to fellow leftists, unlike their relationship
with anyone from the right:
"The charge sheet
brought against Shimon Sheves, who served as the country’s boss [in his
position as Director-General of Prime Minster Rabin’s office] before we
loved to hate Evette Liberman [the former D-G of Netanyahu’s office], carries
on his back not a little of the feeling [about regime corruption].
That the media, being just slightly left (joke), reports on Sheves as if
we are referring to a medical bulletin on a survey made about a drug to
heal diabetes, is doing a great favor to the Labor Party". (20)
Media’s Style and Its Influence on Its Credibility
In an article published
in a media periodical, Dr. Dan Boneh defined Israel’s media as a "communicatator"
and spelled out his criticism:
"Indeed, the communicatator
in all its finery - or, if you wish, a media gone mad, a media gone dizzy
in gorgeous feathers, which crowns itself and takes credit for all sorts
of achievements that are but losses - its influence on its viewers and
public opinion being destructive, negative and insulting. Instead of
‘democracy’s watchdog’, guarding ‘the public’s right to know’, we have
a despotic media which encourages shallowness and populism, simplicity
and extremism, an atmosphere of shouting and violence. All this hampers
the ability of the public to clarify and know, to consider and think, to
uncover and receive information, not because the public in uninterested,
but that the communicatator is not interested in allowing it to do
outstanding author and prize-winner, , also felt pressured to relate to
Israel’s media style. In an op-ed piece (22), the former Labor MK
found an original way to express his repulsion and called out: "People!
Don’t Go to the Television!". His forthright criticism included the
following literary gems:
"They will invite
you there so as to shut you up. They will mock you, they will torment
you...all the interviewer needs is one sentence...and after you have uttered
it, your job is finished. And if you stammer on or attempt to clarify
or, God forbid, suggest another direction, you’ll be tossed out immediately,
thank you. You’re despised and out...they’ll obliterate you before
you take a breath before speaking; you’re despised before you begin and
if you do not utter the line they expect you to say, they’ll turn you into
As if in support
of Smilansky’s view, Yaakov Achimeir, veteran IBA reporter and news presenter,
published conclusions about his experience as Channel One’s Washington
correspondent during 1995-1997:
"here in Israel,
the screen serves as a ring where pure poor taste is defended... by us,
interviewers act with roughshod antagonism...[doing so] so as to please
the circle of friends and those who share their political and social outlook".
Public’s Representatives vs. The Professional Staff
One of the major
elements which underlay the workings of a public broadcasting networks
the existing tension between the professional staff, who are daily involved
in the production and transmission of hundreds of weekly hours of programming,
and those persons appointed to perform the function of the public’s representatives.
Galatz, the Army Radio station, and the Educational Television network
are supervised directly by the relevant ministries rather than any public
council. The Second Authority Law stipulated the existence of a public
council but the authors of this report were unable to review accessible
primary documentation. The situation at the IBA is different.
In the IBA’s Plenum
Report covering the period October 1995-October 1996 a whole section is
devoted to this tension. Professor Rina Shapira writes there that
this matter is an in-built dilemma which stems from the definition of the
IBA as a public institution. According to Shapira,
"[there exist] two
essential difficulties regarding the role fulfillment of the executive
committee, both interrelated: the first is the political make-up
of the committee and the second is the interpretation of the committee’s
role as administrator or setting of policy of the authority [by the authority’s
own employees]". (24)
Further in the report,
Shapira describes a complex and confrontational relationship between the
senior professional employees of the IBA and the public representative.
Beyond the claim of guilt by "political" association, Prof. Shapira notes
that not only were ethical code standards violated but that proper and
correct administrative and managerial aspects of the IBA’s work were not
carried out. Reading the report, as well as the items in the press published
by media critics, one gains the impression that the senior directors depreciate
all criticism by labeling it as "political interference", enabling them
to cover up failures of management, financial and organizational.
Shapira sums up and points out that "the blur that exists in the IBA Law
[regarding] questions of authority and responsibility over the various
bodies made our work difficult". (25)
A recent incident
well illustrates the complexity of this nebulous formulation of responsibility.
For over two decades there has existed an informal understanding, confirmed
in the minutes of plenum meetings of that period, that there is a status
quo whereby the IBA plenum defines broad policy decisions and operational
guidelines. The professional staff, however, is solely responsible
for matters relating to editorial decisions, management concerns and personnel
appointments. The plenum, it is understood, does not deal in removing
a news presenter nor does it dictate who will host a specific show.
However, when Kol
Yisrael’s director, Amnon Nadav, decided during July 1998 to alter the
structure of a weekly program devoted to legal and judicial affairs, as
well as replacing the presenter, the person in question, Moshe Negbi, appealed
to the Jerusalem District Labor Court. He claimed that according
to the law, the only institution that has the right to alter his standing
is the plenum; not the radio’s director. The judge concurred and
as of this writing, the appeal judgment has not been handed down.
But be that as it may, the status quo had been dearly adhered to by left
wing politicians who had successfully sought to ward off various attempts
by representatives of the nationalist camp politicians to fire or transfer
veteran IBA employees with whose style and content they did not agree.
Now, to avoid being removed, Negbi, a radical liberal whose personal newspaper
columns do not hide his political and social outlook, was willing to overturn
the decades-old standoff which, also, is in contradiction to several decisions
of the High Court of Justice (26). All this has been a further major
contribution to the blurring of the lines between the IBA’s plenum members
and the persons they are bound by law to supervise.
In another sphere,
one of the problems that prevent the managers of the Arutz 7 national radio
station from accepting the offer to enter into the Second Authority’s regional
radio setup is their fear of the extent of the authority’s supervisory
powers. The Arutz 7 managers are concerned that in the guise of administrative
restrictions that their right of expression would be severely curtailed.
As a result, the station prefers to spend some one million dollars annually
on the upkeep of an off-shore ship as well as broadcasting over an unofficially
obtained frequency rather than submit themselves to the proffered arrangement.
This lack of trust is an additional symptom in the charged atmosphere existing
between the broadcasting bodies and the supervisory institutions responsible
for maintaining ethical standards as set out by law and secondary
The Media Treatment of the Oslo Process
Beginning in late
August 1993, at the time when the first news items began appearing
about an agreement reached between Israel and the PLO, the media treatment
of this story - in terms of relaying factual news, the setting-up
of interviews and commentary - was sympathetic and mores, protective.
The television Channel
One's main weekly political panel program, "Popolitika", was researched
by IMW during the months March-July 1995 for a total of 19 broadcasts.
The statistics pointed conclusively to a clear bias in presenting
the views held by the public regarding the Oslo Process.
The program suffered
an obvious lack of balance both in the amount of representative opinions
expressed by the guests as well as the time devoted to the variety of their
opinions. The permanent panel of three journalists, who set the tone
for the show, was unbalanced in the extreme. Out of a cumulative
total of 61 appearances by the panel members, only two spoke out
against the process. This is an important element as it is the panel
which creates the show's character by not only asking the guests
the questions but in their license to state their own opinions.
In addition, the
amount of time divided between coalition and opposition members of
the Knesset, the amount of appearance of Ministers and MKs and the promoting
of public personalities to the detriment of others all contributed
to the lack of balance.
For example, Shimon
Peres, the Foreign Minister, was afforded three unique appearances,
for unusual extended periods of time, without any other guests at the table,
all of them following terror attacks on Israelis. Over more
than half a year, he was the sole politician to be granted such a
platform. This, for all intents and purposes, was turning "Popolitika"
into a mouthpiece for the government. The television screen
had be conquered. Meretz Minister Shulamit Aloni starred in the program.
The selection of themes to be discussed consistently favored the
Another IMW research
paper reviewed 22 programs of the "Yoman" Friday night weekly news
summary show. The show presents an in-depth treatment of the week's
news items. The paper dealt with five months of broadcasting
between March-July during 1995. This show too displayed a biased
approach on behalf of the government spokesmen in terms of the time
permitted them to put their case across, the amount of their appearances
as well as questionable editing methodology. Another study
on the treatment, during one week, of a campaign slogan issue on
Jerusalem, again indicated, this time on both the First and Second
Channels, a clear preference for the Labor-Meretz coalition point of view.
The "Yoman" program
also initiated a basic personal-view column which introduced formal
editorializing in the guise of commentary. Mr. Amnon Avramovitz,
an enthusiastic supporter of Oslo, was allowed to dominate the column,
entitled "Accounting", expressing his own outlook to a large audience
on a public broadcasting network. A petition to the High Court
of Justice, 4453/95, with the Chief Justice sitting in session, did not
correct the inherent imbalance. Avramovitz appeared, in a period
of over a year, in more than 85% of the columns broadcast despite
the fact that the IBA committed itself before the judges to maintain the
balance and variety obligated by the law.
The general public
support for the Oslo Process was made possible by the letter signed
by the PLO's Arafat and addressed to Yitzhak Rabin whereby the PLO Chairman
committed himself to invalidate those elements of the Covenant which
were incompatible with the peace accord. In April 1996, two
and one-half years later, then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced
that Arafat had canceled the Covenant, calling it an event of historic
proportions. The opposition lambasted Peres, saying that the Covenant
had simply undergone a sleight-of- the-hand maneuver, actually be shunted
off to a sub-committee of the PA's legislative council Only one journalist,
Uzi Benziman of "Ha'Aretz", published claims by MK Benny Begin, backed
up by filmed material of the PA council session and other statements from
Palestinian sources that were not only all but ignored by the rest
of the Israel media but ridiculed as well.
Recently, in an article
published in the "Ma'ariv" daily (27), Joel Singer, the special Oslo
legal advisor at the time, revealed that not only was Begin correct in
his suspicions but that Peres himself was an active participant together
with Arafat in creating the illusion that the Covenant was altered,
thus permitting Arafat to avoid fulfilling his obligations under the terms
of the Oslo accords. Begin's opinion on the behavior of the media
"the media joined
in on the scam most willingly. Laziness, negligence, as well as political
interests linked up together. Except for Uzi Benziman, no one
stood up to ask, to press, to investigate". (28)
MK Begin was involved
in another affair in which the media was perceived as serving the
personal preferences of various editors and reporters rather than the public's
right to know. Beginning in late January 994, Mr. Begin became aware
of the existence of video tapes in which were recorded speeches of
Yasser Arafat in the Arabic language. In these appearances, Arafat
used terminology that was far from the expected language of peace in accordance
with the Oslo accords. In fact, Arafat was expressing himself
in the most maximalist positions as championed in the PLO Covenant,
including allusions to armed struggle, that is, terror.
attempted to interest the editors of the two main television news
programs. He asked to be interviewed and that selections from the
tapes be broadcast. As he later recalled (29 ), some four months
passed before he was afforded air time on Channel One. Interestingly
enough, the reason he finally managed to appear was that Shimon Peres,
in a session of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,
has accused Begin of dealing in tampered tapes, suggesting that Begin
was being less than honest as to the contents of Arafat's speeches.
It was this angle, that perhaps the tapes were worthless, that interested
the news editors. It was possibly their hope that the tapes
would prove unsubstantiated.
Once a month, for
over four years, the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Studies at Tel
Aviv University has been publishing a "Peace Index" on various issues,
political, social and cultural, related to the evolving peace process.
The project is headed by Professor Efraim Yaar and Doctor Tamar Herman
and the public opinion poll itself is carried out by the Modiin Ezrachi
firm. The Ha'Aretz newspaper faithfully provides full coverage to
the monthly report. Unlike other polls, the Peace Index includes
in its representative sampling residents of kibbutzim and the communities
in Judea and Samaria.
The July 1998 Index
included two questions regarding the performance of the media within
the Oslo peace process. The first question was: "does the Israeli
media influence the public's support of or its opposition to the
peace process?". The answers were
Not at all 11%
Not much 22% Significantly 28% Greatly 34% No opinion 5%
The second question
was: "in your general opinion, does the Israeli media report objectively
about the peace process or are its reports biased more to the support of
the process or more in opposition to it?". The replies were
Tend to support 46%
Tend to oppose 13% The reporting is objective 34% No opinion 7%
These results point
to the trend amidst the general public which considers the media
itself to be a player of the political stage, involved and influencing
that what is happening. The size of the headline, the favorable
commentary, the "little" stories from behind the scenes, the minimizing
of certain news items among other instances are the instruments which were
manipulated by the media in its efforts to create a positive public opinion
relating to the peace process.
Another method of
managing the news was the publishing of derogatory commentary, bordering
on the ridiculous. Following the revelation of Arafat’s infamous
Johannesburg speech in May 1994, in which he called for the faithful to
practice jihad, Amnon Avramovitz quoted approvingly the words of Shlomo
Gur, then assistant to Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin, who said in
response that the recording "reminded me of a recording of Rabbi Ovadiah
Yosef [the Shas Rabbinical mentor]". (30) The Second Television Authority’s
satire program, "Chartzufim" [in ‘Spitting Image’ style], was criticized
for its treatment of Arafat, turning him into an almost lovable and cute
doll, easing his acceptance as a cultural icon by the Israeli public.
Ari Shavit summed
up the positive relationship that the media had developed vis-a-vis the
Oslo process thus:
"In present-day Israel,
there exists an almost absolute identity between those persons dedicated
to the idea of peace, in its most radical-dovish version, and the journalists,
lawyers and academics who are charged with setting the civil and legal
norms and on the flow of information...a certain camp, very well defined,
fulfills three or four functions: they are the players, the judge, they
report and they explain the process on the various media outlet".
In a report composed
by Israel Media Resource director, David Bedein, and who was present at
most, if not all, the press conferences held during the first two years
of the Oslo process, can be found several instances in which the media
preferred to skip over uncomfortable issues, ignoring to report them.
These included the non-condemnation of terror acts, the matter of the invalidation
of the Palestinian Covenant, the extradition of murderers, the unclarity
expressed by Palestinian spokespersons when relating to the "Right of Return"
and the continuation of the "armed struggle". One especial case was
the refusal to report on and analyze the agreement worked out in Egypt
in December 1995 between Arafat and the Hamas which provided the latter
with the ‘green light’ to kill. Bedein notes the use of superlatives
when describing diplomatic moves during the talks on the Declaration of
Principles (DOP), when media personnel employed semantic weapons to convince
their audience. Another case in point is the preferential treatment
afforded certain research institutes, which supported the Oslo route,
which then had their research fellows appear on the broadcasting media.
Reporters who dared
to criticize the process or to publish unfavorable reports were pressured
in certain ways to change their tune or to risk a deep freeze.
For example, Bedein claims that after Ehud Ya’ari, IBA’s Arab affairs senior
correspondent, was interviewed in Ma’ariv in May 1994, and strongly criticized
the Israeli negotiating team’s conception, he never repeated his criticism
as if he was forced to recant. He found a sort of refuge for independent
thought when he published English-language articles critical of the Oslo
process in the Jerusalem Report.
Pinchas Inbari, reporter
and commentator on Arab affairs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (YESHA) for
the now defunct Al HaMishmar daily, expressed professional frustration
in private conversations. He complained that the editorial line adopted
by his paper mostly ignored the essence of the material he was reporting,
obtained from central figures in the Palestinian and PLO leadership.
Inbari rarely, if ever, appeared on the electronic media and was not given
a chance, unlike many other print journalists, to air their views over
the electronic broadcasting networks.
Another aspect of
media bias is the hostility displayed by certain media persons against
one particular ideological-political camp. The antagonism shown towards
the Israelis resident in the administered territories beyond the former
Green Line by reporters in their news items was clearly expressed in the
framework of their stories on Oslo. Only recently, Guy Kotev, Kol
Yisrael’s territories’ reporter, allowed an insight into the heart of the
Israeli media and its approach to the question of the Jewish residents
in YESHA. Interviewed on Kol Yisrael (32 ), Kotev admitted to Shelly
Yechimovitz, that the media’s dealing with actions conducted not always
within the confines of the law by Jews versus those accomplished by Arabs
is always louder and more extensive. He also revealed that many Arab
acts of low-level violence against Jewish residents never were reported
in any minimal form. This, he made clear, was due to the personal
preferences of the reporters and their editors.
Many complaints are
to be found in IMW files regarding the lack of professional ethical behavior
in the reporting on issues connected with the so-called "settlers" and
their life in their communities. One special item, for example, was
a report broadcast in August 1995 dealing with water scarcity in the Hebron
area (see 7F below). Despite the fact that it was brought to the
attention of the IBA ombudsman that the story first broadcast on the Yeoman
show, no correction or apology was issued. In fact, the summer of
1998 saw a basic replay of that first story: Israel is responsible for
the dearth of water in that region. A Jewish swimming pool was counterpointed
with an empty faucet, again and again.
One of the main faults
we found with the Israeli media during this period was its treatment of
the mass public protest movement and its multitude of groups and organizations.
Many demonstrations were conducted and the interplay with the media was
complex. While the scenes of sit-downs and marches were transmitted,
and while the leaders voiced their support for non-violent actions, the
media consistently characterized the demonstrations, especially of the
"This Is Out Land" group, as "violent" and preferred pictures of
occasional rambunctiousness. On the other side of the political fence,
when in December 1993, eighty professors and lecturers of the Professors
for A Strong Israel demonstrated against the IBA’s media bias, the television
saw fit to ignore the activity. This phenomenon of media bias, which
in turn affected the activities of extra-parliamentary groups, causing
a heightening of tension in the public political and social climate is
treated in a new book that was published in the summer of 1998. Written
by Professor Gadi Wolfsfeld of the Hebrew University’s Communications Department,
the book, "Media and Political Conflict", devotes two full chapters discussing
the inter-relations between the media as a reporting institution and the
pervasive influence it generates because of the way it reports the
news and allows or limits discussion of issues (see pgs. 77-123 in particular).
Another element of
Israel’s media-political complex as it is reflected in the treatment of
the Oslo process was the cooperation that developed in regard to the activities
of the General Security Services agent provocateur, Avishai Raviv.
The electronic media, and especially Channel One television, chose Raviv
as their "media star" and made him into a symbol of the entire anti-Oslo
camp, those the late Prime Minister Rabin measurably called "the extreme
Right". The practical result of this media concentration on Avishai
Raviv was that the insignificant fringe was pushed front and center.
After all, if Raviv and his ilk repeatedly are displayed on the television
screens while, at the same time, the media consumer is unaware of the true
strength of these activists, what happens is the creation of a virtual
reality. This virtual reality had little in common with the actual
reality. The media contributed, in an irresponsible fashion, to the
driving of a wedge between Israel’s citizens.
The truth of the
discomforting role played, knowingly or otherwise, by the media in the
Raviv affair was revealed in the fall of 1997 when, after a long struggle,
a secret portion of the Shamgar Inquiry Commission’s report dealing with
Raviv was released for publication. The Commission, established to
investigate the events leading to the assassination of Rabin, wrote in
their official report:
for all intents and purposes, only in the publications of Avishai Raviv
and through the coverage afforded him by the television" (33)
"All that time, [Raviv]
continued in his contacts with the media in order to portray Eyal as an
real organization and received assistance from the television in
that it broadcast a swearing-in ceremony, that was but a put-on show, that
anyone who was present there had to be aware that indeed it was a show"
ceremony, mentioned in the report, was shown on Channel One’s "Yoman" program
in late September 1995. IMW complained to the IBA heads at the time
that we suspected a fabricated presentation. Subsequently, the police were
instructed by then Attorney-General Michael Ben-Yair to initiate a criminal
investigation. As of this writing (October 1, 1998), no charges have
been brought and the Attorney-General’s office as well as the State Prosecutor’s
office have written us that they are still investigating.
In another media
manipulation event which sought to portray the right-wing as a criminal
element, Raviv assumed responsibility in October 1995 for a murder of an
Arab resident of the village of Halhul, near Hebron. The media prominently
and repeatedly broadcast the statement, as was its obligation, but neglected
to engage in its own independent investigation. In fact, on the "Popolitika"
program a few days later, Moshe Feiglin of the "This Is Our Land" protest
movement was ridiculed when he suggested that the Eyal group had nothing
to do with the crime.
ministers, especially those from the extreme Left, such as Yossi Sarid,
exploited the incident and the pronouncements of Raviv to denigrate the
entire right wing as well as calling for the removal of Hebron’s Jewish
population in response. All during this period of over a week, as
noted, the media some how "lost" its ability to act on its own. Even after
it eventually became known that the Arab was killed by other Arabs for
criminal reasons, the lack of balance in the media coverage continued.
The fact that GSS officers did not inform immediately their government
supervisors that, as Raviv was their agent, the murder had not been committed
by him and that the attacks by ministers on the Right were baseless, was
a further symptom of the symbiosis that had developed between establishment
bodies and the media in the furtherance of partisan political goals.
The tension that
had formed between the media and their sympathizers amongst the academic
community, natural allies in the reality of Israel, broke out into the
open in March 1996. At the height of the series of Arab terror attacks
at the time, which involved the horrendous results of suicide bombers,
Professor Shlomo Avineri, former Director-General of the Foreign Ministry
and a Labor Party member, a founder of the 77 Circle, attacked the media
coverage of the events. First appearing on the "New Evening" show
(35), he called Chaim Yavin, anchorman of the main evening news broadcast
on Channel One TV, "a collaborator of the Hamas" and further described
him as the "national crybaby". In another interview, this time in
the presence of Yavin, Avineri stated that he was acting "at the time as
one who is concerned with the public’s morale" (36).
It was obvious to
all that it was actually the supreme electoral interest of the Labor party
that concerned Prof. Avineri. The more the coverage of terror attacks,
the more negative effect they would have on the election chances of Labor
on polling day which had by then been set for May 26. There is then yet
another question that should be asked: as personalities opposed to the
government’s position were denied air time during the election campaign
(noted below), why did the IBA permit a discussion of Avineri’s criticism
to be aired?
Dr. Raya Epstein,
who researches the cultural, political and ideological sources of totalitarianism,
arrived at a penetrating conclusion, one that paralleled those of Ari Shavit
and Ben-Dror Yemini dealt with above, concerning the role played by clique
of Israel’s mass media. According to Epstein, Israeli democracy is
unique and is an outlook that "forces itself" with the aid of elites
whose roots are to be found in pre-state Zionist socialism. Epstein
presents of thesis that it was this interpretation of democracy which allowed
the so-called "peace camp" to plant its version of utopia into the consciousness
of society as, what she terms, "compatible democracy". She explains:
"[‘the peace camp’]
forces Israeli society to go in this single path which it itself has laid
out, neutralizing all opposition and protest by portraying them as anti-
democratic...the media mobilization, with all its tremendous power,
on behalf of the attainment of this goal, allows an indoctrination of the
people to take place... it is abundantly clear that the power which forces
left-wing radicalism on the daily agenda of the Israeli public is the mass
media. It makes no difference if the media is aware or unaware of
its campaign against democracy. In this matter, the usually heard
remark from media personnel, often in all honesty, that their left-wing
inclinations do not prevent them from being neutral, objective and professional,
is lacking all foundation". (37)
of Epstein’s theory is included in an op-ed article written by the veteran
press journalist, Yisrael Rosenblatt, who previously served as the Ombudsman
of the Ma’ariv daily. Concerned by the global phenomenon of a reducement
in the credibility of the media, Rosenblatt deals with the special situation
in Israel and points to the media being "out to get" Netanyahu, as he sees
it. He describes the reality as:
"Woe to anyone who
attempts to doubt the considerations [of the media] to undermine its claims
or to is skeptical of its professional integrity. The media possesses standard
ammunition (‘danger to freedom of expression’, ‘clamping down on criticism’,
‘watchdogs of democracy’) which has proven its worth...if at anytime previously,
the left-wing character of the media was rejected, today everyone in the
profession admits it, for indeed, such is the reality. In place of a total
denial, there is humorous apologetics: from ‘there is no such thing as
an objective journalist’ to ‘journalists are lefties but the media isn’t’."
And, as if to close
the circle, at a conference of Israeli and Palestinian journalists convened
in July 1998 on Rhodes and sponsored by UNICEF, Chaim Yavin, veteran anchorman
of IBA’s television news, declared, in reaction to Palestinian claims of
censorship and lack of understanding on the part of the Israeli press and
media, that "without the Israeli press, there would have been no peace
process. Without the Israeli press, the Intifada would not have led
to Oslo. That was a product of Israel’s freedom of the press. The
press is the watchdog of Israeli democracy". (39)
Rabin’s Assassination and the following Week as Reflected in Channel One’s
IMW reviewed the
broadcasting schedule of TV’s Channel One during the week following the
assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995 in order
to ascertain the balance in those transmissions. The programs included
in the report were the coverage from Sunday morning until the funeral
service, two "Popolitika" shows (5.11 and 7.11), a special tribute by artists
and actors (7.11), a special retrospective program on Rabin (8.11) and
the weekly news roundup, "Yoman" (10.11). These programs were selected
for their centrality in the schedule lineup, their importance due to their
hosts and the guests and because their relative length enabled adequate
Our main finding
was that balance was not preserved. The "Popolitika" show of 5.11
included 12 guests from the leftist camp and 3 from the right. The representatives
of the left merited 71% on the discussion time. It was only on the
second "Popolitika" show of 7.11 that a semblance of balance was presented.
This was achieved, as the show’s moderator has revealed (40), when the
producer, Aharon Goldfinger, was forced to invite four representatives
of the left as well as right. Nevertheless, Finance Minister Avraham
Shochat, a close political ally of Rabin, was allowed the special privilege
of being interviewed with no other guest and the panel table for several
long minutes before being joined by MK Naomi Chazan of the coalition Meretz
Party for another interview period with no one from the right. Despite
the balance in the number of guests, the left-wing representatives were
allotted 68% of the debate time versus 32% for the opposition members.
Another aspect regarding
these two "Popolitika" shows was that the panel interviewers acted with
impunity, asking their questions in an aggressive and belittling manner.
Their behavior was seen as a contribution to the "brutalization of television
culture", influencing in a negative manner the general gloomy political
Channel One broadcast
live, from the HaBimah National Theater hall, a tribute to Rabin by many
of the country's artists and performers. Not one representative of
the right was included in the long list of stars. Harsh words of
slander and libel were spoken, some in a menacing manner, causing complaints
to be made to the Attorney-General’s office. Mordechai Kirschenbaum
was reported to be on the verge of pulling the plug on the show but permitted
it to continue. A central guest who addressed those assembled was
Minister Shulamit Aloni, a very opinionated person in her own right.
No other political personality appeared. The show served as a platform
for politically motivated attacks with no modicum of fairness by the public
broadcasting network to allow for a true presentation of their views..
Another special program,
shown that week, was "Goodbye to Rabin" on November 8, 1995. Not
one right wing representative appeared. There were four left-wingers
and one PLO representative, Ziad Abu-Ziad. This was a sorry week
for broadcasting ethics and was summed up by Chaim Assa, a former Rabin
analyst who worked as a government employee in the Prime Minister’s bureau,
in a newspaper opinion piece:
"The way the media
stars smeared themselves on to the difficult atmosphere that was formed
brings to mind desperation. Instead of fulfilling its role - to be a platform
for neutral public debate, it became a party to that dispute. Despite the
fact that the majority of Israel’s media are positioned on the side that
I believe in, I find it hard to express my own mind".
Meiberg described Channel One’s efforts that week as a conscious decision
of "managing the mourning". (42)
The media hounded,
in a private war carried on through the use of public instruments, against
Benjamin Netanyahu in particular and the National Camp (43) in general.
An incisive view of this vendetta was provided by Tamir Shefer, a lecturer
at the Hebrew University’s Communications Department and a doctoral student,
in an article published in the Ha’Aretz newspaper which dealt with the
mourning activity of the media over Rabin’s death. According to Shefer,
"The media coverage
after the assassination created a contextual paradigm of a special character
- the ‘paradigm of incitement’...the two representative narratives which
formulated this ‘paradigm of incitement’ are the ‘coffin demonstration’
[a demonstration that took place in Raanana in the presence of Netanyahu
in which a coffin symbolized the "death of peace". Netanyahu denied
seeing the coffin’s inscription] and the "Zion Square rally" [in Jerusalem
during which a photo montage of Rabin in an SS uniform was displayed before
television cameras]". (44)
was written in response (45) to a third narrative which occurred in May
1998 when supporters of Jerusalem’s Betar soccer team won the league championship.
The celebrations were held at Safra Square in the presence of the Prime
Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the mayor, Ehud Olmert. Television
camera microphones picked up chants of "death to Arabs!" from a portion
of the crowd. Despite Netanyahu’s denial, together with Olmert, that
they had not heard the chants from their position on a balcony overlooking
the square, a claim backed by press reporters, Israel’s Channel One showed
a few seconds of Netanyahu waving to the crowd together with the chants
in the background. The inevitable image conveyed was that Netanyahu
was, as it were, encouraging the crowd’s chants. In her commentary,
news presenter Geula Even left no doubt that she had linked this event
with the previous event in Zion Square. That event, as noted above,
was central to the incitement thesis in that there, too, Netanyahu had
stated that he had not seen the posters from where he was standing even
though television shots created the image and sense that he was smiling
in direct reaction to the posters. Netanyahu, the media was unmistakably
conveying, was a secret partner to the incitement.
The clear, and perhaps
planned, conclusion of the week’s broadcasting was that not only was the
public allowed to know what was going on and thereby participate in the
mourning over the tragic death of the country’s leader and that not only
did the media act as an agent which allowed the public to experience psychologically
the difficult circumstances such as the tearful remarks spoken by Rabin’s
daughter but the media managed a mobilized campaign of a certain cultural,
social and ideological elite against a group hostile to that elite as well
as hated by that elite.
The media, posits
Shefer, mourned in two spheres. "Firstly, the media engaged in self-flagellation.
And example of this is Michael Karpin’s documentary ("The Government Announces
With Shock") that blames the press directly for ignoring the obvious signs
that indicated an incitement campaign...and the second expression of media’s
mourning was an increased awareness that highlighted in a massive media
coverage of every item and instance that could be associated with incitement...the
problem in this mode of activity (that is, the review and categorization
of events according to their appropriateness to existing media paradigms)
created a mental fixation and invited stereotyping".
In addition, Shefer
relates to the problematic that the media must shorten, classify edit and
present an event by showing a sample of the reality. Journalists
are those who, by their roles, create the contexts in which the event will
be displayed. In this professional process, several questions should
be asked, such as:
"who is permitted
to decide when a sample represents the reality? When are created
contexts legitimate? When is it proper to assign an event to the
existing media paradigm and when is it correct to disassemble that paradigm?".
In the current situation
of the Israel media, when many of its central personnel hold opinions that
negate the political path of Netanyahu, the clash between the personal
biases and the rules of professional ethics has brought about a depreciation
of those rules. The cameras and the microphones in the hands of those
media people have served the editors, broadcasters and hosts as tools to
bring before the viewers and listeners their own personal outlooks while,
at every possible moment, battering the National Camp and he who stands
at its head.
A display of that
depreciation of the code of ethics by a media person was provided in a
book review article criticizing the new addition of the IBA’s code, the
Nakdi Document. In the article, written by a former IBA employee
and currently, a lecturer in media studies at the Hebrew University, Dr.
Yitzhak Roeh, the code was termed "an anachronistic document", which "stirs
up but merciful empathy" as "an ancient legend" being "irrelevant". (46)
The Israeli Broadcast Media During the 1996 Election Campaign
Infractions of the Electioneering Law
The influence of
the mass broadcasting media on an elections campaign at the end of
the 20th century is crucial. The selection of news items, their repetition,
the coverage of candidates, general events, participation in interview
programs - all this represents a consideration on the part of the voter.
That elections are equal for all is an elementary principle of the democratic
process. As much as possible, each candidate must receive an equal
chance to present his position. Therefore, not unlike other enlightened
countries, the electronic media in Israel is restricted, in part,
during an election campaign by law.
In the clash between
freedom of expression and the right of the public to know on the one hand,
and the freedom of choice and the principle of equality on the other, the
law comes down of the side of the most feasible democratic election process.
The election campaign must be held in a fair manner which does not award
an artificial advantage to any side, especially not to those parties that
are veteran, large and participate in the running of government.
As such, paragraph 5 of the Election Law (Electioneering) that was applicable
during the elections for the 14th Knesset and the Prime Minister in 1996
(a subsequent leniency has been, in the meantime, legislated) fixed two
periods, one within the other. During the 60-day period prior to
election day, "no electioneering" may be broadcast and during the 21-day
period prior to election day, "no events may be broadcast in which candidates
for the Knesset participate".
The then chairman
of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Theodor Orr,
made it clear in a letter he sent to all directors of broadcasting authorities
on March 27, 1996 that "every specific broadcast or program must be reviewed
in their special circumstances in order to ascertain that they do not contain
The Israel’s Media
Watch staff researched the transmissions of both television channels, One
and Two, during the entire 60 day period leading up to ballot day.
The programs selected for the study included all the news and central current
affairs programs. The results indicated that every day there was
a violation in one form or another of the law prohibiting election propaganda.
The infractions were committed by reporters, broadcasters, show hosts,
editors and producers and, on the side of the politicians, by representatives
of the two major blocs as well as other guests on interview shows.
They all exploited loopholes so as to promote a political stand.
The majority of the infractions were done by members or sympathizers of
the-then coalition parties, Labor and Meretz.
There exist three
options to enforce the election law: in a volunteer fashion by the broadcasting
authorities themselves; by the Central Elections Committee; and by a judicial
action brought by the Attorney-General’s office or by the State Prosecutor
or the police. The networks did not exert themselves in enforcing
that which is prohibited and basically ignored their responsibilities.
For example, Channel
Two’s main evening news broadcast included a short daily item entitled
"Political Area". Reported by Itai Engel, it included unadulterated
political campaign propaganda, mouthed, even if by people in the street,
on behalf of the two prime minister candidates as well as a variety of
parties. The complaints submitted by IMW to the Complaints’ Commissioner
of the Second Authority were of no use. It was only after that IMW
threatened to undertake legal steps and then, after tough negotiations
with the legal advisor of the news corporation, that the item was eventually
removed from the program, and then, after a long delay and just a few days
before the elections. In another instance, when clearly election
propaganda on behalf of Shimon Peres was broadcast on a Kol Yisrael program
hosted by Yaron Enosh, the laconic reply received in the IMW office, signed
by the IBA spokesperson, was that since by then the elections were over,
there is no need to deal with a legal matter. Practically speaking, the
volunteer submission option simply did not exist.
The second way to
uphold the law was through action taken by the Central Elections Committee.
Its chairman, Justice Theodor Orr, saw himself as taking the path of the
golden mean. As he explained in the CEC meeting held after the elections:
"[I decided] to balance
out between the two: on the one hand, between the wish to defend
the right of expression, including, of course, that of the media which
represents the soul of our democratic regime and between, on the other
hand, the need to protect that which the law obligates".
And he continued:
"I admit that the
task was not easy" (47)
In a meeting with
representatives of IMW, held on May 8, 1996, Orr explained that in any
case, the CEC did not enforce the law. That was the job of the police.
At most, the committee could prevent a broadcast or make use of its moral
authority. It had no standing in cases of infractions already committed.
In this instance, it was up to the police and the public prosecution to
act. In reality, Orr prevented only one program which was construed,
after being viewed in a studio, from being aired and that, on the eve of
election day. The helplessness of the CEC and its chairman as well
as the deprecation of the law demonstrated by the media can be judged by
the following incident.
In the aftermath
of the broadcasting of prohibited electioneering, words of support for
Shimon Peres by the Baba Baruch, a Sefardi Rabbi, on the Popolitika shown
on May 13th, IMW requested that the CEC exert its responsibility to prevent
a future electioneering occasion. Justice Orr decided, in line with
the suggestion of IMW representatives present at the hearing, to order
IBA D-G Kirschenbaum to personally and closely supervise the program to
prevent any electioneering propaganda from being broadcast. The next program
again dealt with election issues and the conduct of the candidates.
IMW demanded a restraining order against the program and, in response,
Orr decided that Kirschenbaum had not fulfilled his obligations. He further
demanded that Kirschenbaum inform him before the broadcast time of the
next program exactly the issues to be dealt with by the show as well as
the list of invited guests to prevent the breaking of the law.
Despite all this
unprecedented judicial intervention, during the program broadcast the night
before the elections, two of the panelists, Amnon Dankner and Shelly Yechimovitz,
took advantage of their live appearance on the screen and made fun of Justice
Orr’s decisions and proceeded to make statements of support for Shimon
Peres and belittling Benjamin Netanyahu.
illegal electioneering that were made to the police and other judicial
bodies such as the Attorney General’s Office, the third option, proved
useless as well. They referred the complaints to the CEC. Thus was
created a vicious circle. The situation did not go unnoticed and
Razi Barkai, host of Channel Two’s media critique program, produced by
Israel’s Education Network, "Media File", stated forthrightly: "we are
all delinquents". (48) Daliah Ravikovitz also did not hide the truth
of the media’s biased intervention:
When the two candidates
were interviewed [on the "Popolitika" program] we saw Peres being treated
with royal honor, and Bibi was set upon as if by a pack of dogs". (49)
The law which was
intended to prevent unfair electioneering via the instruments of the mass
media was contravened, in its spirit and in its letter, and there existed
no possible way of preventing its infraction nor punishing those who acted
illegally. Spokesmen of the Labor Party exhibited their confidence
that the media was obviously helping them. The head of the Information
and PR unit, Avraham Burg, was quoted by Ma’ariv’s political reporter,
Shalom Yerushalmi, as saying:
"What ‘shows’ better
- news which is supposed to be objective or political propaganda?" (50)
Haim Ramon, head
of Peres’ personal election campaign unit, was also quite open in their
admiration of the way the media was serving the Labor Party’s interests:
"The Labor Party
does not even require at this time [during the Grapes of Wrath Operation]
and electioneering for the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers are
receiving maximum media coverage and they are promoting well the government’s
The law prohibiting
candidates from being shown indeed proved its logic as Yaron Dekel pointed
out. Dekel, Kol Yisrael’s political party correspondent, appeared
on the weekly "Yoman" program and when asked to comment on how the campaign
was being run said:
"In the past three
weeks, when the electronic media outlets were blocked for Shimon Peres
[because of the law], I think that there was a restriction in his ability
to make headlines as he had done in the past two months. Peres in
the headlines, Bibi in advertisements [was the reality], but not so much
in the last three weeks." (52)
The broadcast media
failed to keep the law and thereby allowed the lists associated with the
then governing coalition to significantly increase the gap of coverage
between it and the opposition as well as between the candidates of the
large parties vis-a-vis smaller, new or sectarian lists that hardly appeared
at all. The principle of equality was violated and there was no balance
to speak of.
Advocate Yuval Karniel,
the former legal advisor to the Second Authority, made the claim in a newspaper
article that what defines who or what will be broadcast are "professional
editorial considerations". He went on to explain:
consideration obligates the presentation of a position championed by the
opposition when it has news value, all the while distinguishing between
a report and an expression of opinion or outlook".
The intent of the
law, Karniel explained, was to prevent the ‘taking over’, through the vehicle
of a ‘professional consideration’, of air and screen time due to the many
more possibilities of the coalition parties to influence the public via
news broadcasts. According to Karniel, the media did not follow the
"Today, the various
media channels are ignoring, ever elegantly, the clear existing prohibition
of the election law to broadcast propaganda on the television and
In the end, it proved
useless to try to depend on the editorial discretion of the media personnel
or their sense of fair play.
Infractions of the Ethics Code: Reliable Data and Fair Reporting
In addition to the
law, the media’s own ethics codes were consistently being violated.
The following examples illustrate the problem.
"Mabat", on May 12th, presented a distorted report regarding video
cassettes distributed to voters and dealing with the terror attacks then
occurring. According to the report, "the Likud eliminated evil quotations
said by Shimon Peres". Characterizing the statements as "evil" was
a personal opinion of the reporter, stemming from his own ideological position.
For after all, the quotations were authentic and backed by sources.
The entire affair of the supposed invalidation of the PLO Covenant during
April 1996 was handled in a biased fashion, unreliably and incorrect as
An attempt to kidnap a soldier on May 12th was relegated to insignificance
and no true attempt was made to investigate the story.
On Memorial Day, April 23, a radio item was broadcast which included interviews
with families who had lost relatives due to Arab terror. IMW researched
and revealed that those interviewed were selected with the active help
of one Yitzhak Frankenthal whose son had been kidnapped and murdered by
Arab terrorists. Mr. Frankenthal, however, was a leading activist
in the "Paths of Peace", a religious group advocating territorial withdrawal
and supporting the Labor Party. Attempts by other bereaved parents,
who disputed the current government policy, to appear on the program as
well as others were thwarted. A promise, by IBA’s D-G, was given
to Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, whose son was killed in Wadi Kelt, that an effort
would be made to allow him air time but to no avail.
The humor and satire
programs were an especial source of media bias against Mr. Netanyahu.
Election time is a unique period when one is dealing with elections.
The essence of political satire is the humiliation and deprecation of politicians
and parties. At election time, such satire can easily cross the boundaries
of simple criticism to electioneering. The Supreme Court Justices
took note of this problem when, in an earlier decision, they distinguished
between artistic content material and political propaganda. It is
our opinion that the value of art in a satirical sketch is relatively negligible
when shown during election time. Indeed, its influence as a propaganda
device is highlighted and therefore should be treated according to another
standard. The determination of the two broadcasting authorities to
grant free license to artists allowed the showing of humor and satire programs
that contained unadulterated propaganda. During the election campaign,
Channel One broadcast the "Cameri Quintet" and Channel Two, the "Chartzufim"
and the "Zehu Zeh" programs.
Examples of humor
as prohibited electioneering material were
A song included in the Zehu Zeh show of April 29th described a salesman
of antiquated objects singing of "a leader melting in the heat, yesterday
angry and today a man of peace/ platforms of synthetic material...today
before the elections...selling used material, second-hand...".
In reply to a complaint
by IMW, Mr. Yoel Rekem, the Second Authority’s Complaint’s Commissioner,
wrote that "the darts of satire in Koby Luria’s song...are aimed, in my
opinion, against Israeli politics in general and this, too, in a gentle
hint...we found no reason to intervene...you r complaint was investigated
and found groundless". (54)
The "Chartzufim" program, an Israeli version of the British "Spitting Images",
brought satire down to a level of raunchiness unknown until then. Slogans
such as "A Secure Peace = Safe Sex" were the norm. Ms. Limor Livnat,
a Likud candidate, was shown instructing Netanyahu and other Likud candidates
how to use condoms. Such low-level humor was utilized mostly against
the Likud and religious parties, but not exclusively. Rafael Eitan, a Tzomet
candidate, was held up as a stuttering fool who can’t remember a thing.
Netanyahu was always shown with a violent streak, constantly striking Shimon
Peres. And if there were any problems of communication between Peres
and Yasser Arafat, it was always Peres’ fault.
writers even exploited Rabin’s death, portraying him as an angel in Heaven,
observing the antics of his political inheritors.
A IMW check of all
92 skits shown on the program during the 60 day pre-election day period
when electioneering is banned, 57% of skits relating to the coalition were
detrimental and negative (27 out of 47) whereas 73% of the skits dealing
with the opposition parties were negative (33 out of 45).
The "Cameri Quintet"
of the IBA presented another problem. Two of its stars, Rami Hoiberger
and Dov Navon, participated in electioneering clips on behalf of the Labor
Party. The previous IBA Chairman, Aryeh Mekel, had set out IBA policy
in this matter in a decision published on February 10, 1992, during that
year’s election campaign to whit, no one participating in election commercials
could appear as a performer on IBA programs during the 60 day period.
Following an appeal to Director-General Kirschenbaum by IMW, he ratified
that policy but only prevented a program that was to include the two in
question during the week prior to polling day.
Preventing Criticism and Halting Flow of Information
An intolerable phenomenon,
especially during a period of national debate and decision, was the policy
to prevent persons who wished to criticize the electronic media performance
and behavior from being allowed to air their points of view over the airwaves.
Unfortunately, we witnessed incidents that raised doubts and questions
concerning media ethics and the upholding of the law.
On the first two
days of May 1996, as mentioned earlier (see section 3), a prominent newspaper
ad was published, signed by an outstanding cross-section of intellectuals
demanding fairplay and objective reporting on the part of media personalities
during the election campaign. The ad read:
"out of concern for
the democratic character of Israel, we call upon you, media personnel,
to place the obligation to democracy and political fair play above your
personal inclinations for this or that side. Journalists must draw
a clear line between their right to express their opinions in op-ed columns
and between their tasks as news editors and interviewers. The affording
of a proper and fair platform for both candidates for the position of Prime
Minister before the public is a professional-ethical obligation.
Any act injurious to these principles is a stab at the heart of democracy".
Several of the various
radio programs and television shows invited a number of the signees to
appear and be interviewed. In the end, these interviews were canceled.
Moked, who considers himself a member of the social Left and a non-party
member of the Labor Party’s social affairs committee and Dr. Yuval Shteinetz,
who supported the Likud, were asked to participate on the May 13th "Popolitika"
program. At the last moment, they received an urgent announcement
that "due to the intervention of authoritative elements within the IBA’s
management", the invitation was recalled.
Prof. Moked was again
invited, this time to the "No Man’s Land" media critique show to be broadcast
May 15th. His participation was canceled due to a strange (to him)
excuse. Despite the fact that a taxi had already been ordered for
him (as he had been informed) and only two hours after he had discussed
his appearance with an editorial research assistant, he was told that as
the Likud had withdrew its complaints regarding charges of bias in the
broadcasting, his participation was no longer needed and he was not to
come. Even though Moked protested that there was no connection between
his criticism and the Likud’s complaints, he was still refused air time
even after he became aware that, in fact, the Likud had not withdrawn their
On May 21, the public
opinion show, "Public Poll", was to have aired a debate entitled "The Media
- Balanced or Leftist?". Dr. Shteinitz and a representative of the
Left were asked to participate but the program was canceled the day before
it was to have been broadcast. The reason given was that opposition
had arisen within IBA circles. And on May 22, the Army Radio station,
Galatz, requested Prof. Moked to appear live on one of its morning programs.
But less than half an hour later, again he was told the invitation had
been rescinded. The reason given was that the IBA D-G, Mordechai
Kirschenbaum, opposed the discussion unless he was a participant. However,
as he could not be available, the broadcast was canceled. (56)
In a handwritten
letter, entitled "A Strange Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Media"
(57), Moked relates to the ominous ramifications of the media’s behavior:
"All these incidents
only strengthened me in my position that our media is not only suffering
from a powerful haughtiness...[and] unity of ideology...but in addition,
a significant portion of those who set the tone in the media are attempting
to exert control in a super extreme radical note, much closer to the desires
of the ‘New Historians’ to crumble the Israeli narrative rather than displaying
a balanced line of support for the peace process".
An outstanding example
of the media’s ability to betray its professionalism is in a campaign anecdote
found in the book, "The Committers of Suicide". The authors recall that
during the "Grapes of Wrath" operation in April 1996, Shimon Peres, while
on a tour of the north, shared a table and some beers with a group of journalists.
Asked to comment on the harsh criticism of the military operation against
Lebanon coming from the Israeli Arab community, Peres retorted: "those
stupid Arabs". As the authors describe it:
were dumbfounded. For Peres, this was an act of political hari-kiri
in the main square of the city. If his remarks were giving publicity,
and they were recorded and spoken for the record, it could have brought
about his premature end. Following a discussion among themselves, in the
end, Peres’ words were not reported". (58)
Not only were persons
critical of the media’s role in the elections prevented from reaching the
public but there were journalists who themselves yielded to self-censorship
in accordance with their political outlook.
The Last Week of the Elections and Polling Day
The attempts of the
media to influence the voters and to affect the elections’ outcome reached
new heights during the last week on the campaign and the actual balloting
day. Representative examples of their efforts are as follows:
The Chabad campaign under the slogan "Netanyahu. Good for the Jews"
was presented in a biased fashion without proper consideration for the
right of reply. A reported remark from within the cabinet meeting,
that the slogan carried the stigma of being racist, was not discussed in
a balanced way in any of the current affairs programs. On the day
of the elections, the Chabad spokesperson phoned IMW’s offices complaining
that all his attempts to get air time to respond to charges leveled against
his movement had failed. It was only at 5 PM, on the "Erev Chadash"
program that he finally got his opportunity.
The media reported that a supposed complaint had been tended to the Central
Elections Committee against Arutz 7 having broadcast election propaganda.
It was proven that the story had no foundation in fact.
Two days prior to the elections, the grave of the former Prime Minister
Menachem Begin had been desecrated. The event did not receive any
extensive coverage nor any panel discussion. In comparison to a media
frenzy that took place earlier, when a Labor Party campaign worker was
injured in a shooting incident as a result of an altercation with Likud
campaign workers, the desecration affair seemed to have been glossed over.
On election day, the electronic media allowed themselves to be manipulated
to the point of encouraging the Arab sector to vote. When it became
clear to Labor Party activists that the percentage of Arabs voting was
low, a statistic that would be unhelpful to Peres, increased news items
and commentary discussions were heard. The interest was artificial
and blown out of proportion.
The biased performance
by the media, both printed and broadcast, did not surprise anybody.
Ron Meiberg, as quoted previously, left no doubt as to the clear
sectarian-political interest displayed by the members of the media when
he wrote: "never had we been so mobilized to bring down a prime minister"
(59). Chami Shalev was of the same opinion, when, a year after the
elections, stated on television:
"it’s no secret that
most journalists did not support Netanyahu " (60) Tzvi Li-dar, IBA
spokesman and public relations chief, outlined back in February 1996 the
elements of unbiased television coverage. Writing to a member of
the IBA’s executive council, Li-dar detailed the approach of the professional
"the IBA executive
is well aware of the very heightened political sensitivity of these
days...every eyebrow move and every lip movement is interpreted as an expression
of an indication of support in this or that side of the political debate...due
to this, the Director-General has decided that in every weekly News Forum
meeting from now until the elections, the importance of responsible and
balanced news coverage will be stressed and in instances of a violation
of the regulations, comments will be noted" (61)
In reality, the letter
remained a piece of paper. Not only was nothing practical ever done
but, as related previously, the senior IBA employees had collaborated in
a left-wing tilt. IMW summed up its research with the following conclusions
a managerial failure occurred whereby the law was not upheld regarding
the prohibition of broadcasting partisan election propaganda and in both
authorities, the review systems did not work.
The Israel Broadcasting
Authority Law, the Second Television and Radio Authority Law and the Nakdi
Document set out clear and unambiguous restrictions and instructions regarding
professional media ethics. Ethics are not unique to Israel.
Similar codes and regulations exist in Britain for the BBC, in France,
the CSA acts to assure ethical behavior and in the United States, the NPR
also is obliged by a code of ethics. During elections, a period of
extreme tension, there exists a special need to maintain ethics.
In Israel, the failure in this regard was enormous.
balance and objectivity were not kept. The tendency was to prefer
the government and its spokesmen.
Specifically, the IBA chose to prevent a proper public discussion of the
issue of the media’s performance during the elections by canceling appearances
Imbalance in the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Programs
The Israel Broadcasting
Authority (IBA), through its radio and television transmissions, constitutes
a public media network. As such, the expectation of media consumers
that balanced coverage between the rival political groupings in a country
where the interest in the activities of the Prime Minister, his government
and the Knesset is very high, itself becomes part and parcel of public
During 1997, due
to several media affairs, the subject of media interference and its perceived
lack of balance came to the fore. One such incident occurred in September
when President Ezer Weizmann slapped Channel Two’s Moshe Nussbaum, an incident
that was hushed up and went unreported for weeks even though it had been
filmed (62). Neither of the two television channels thought the action
of the President newsworthy.
It later was revealed
that at least on two other occasions, Weizmann had used , what was described
as "over-friendly physical force", on two other journalists, one a woman.
It wasn’t until Shelly Yechimovitz, who had read the Ha’Aretz item, interviewed
Nussbaum on her radio interview program that the issue was discussed.
Nussbaum appeared on Channel Two’s afternoon talk show, "At Five with Rafi
Reshef", and that was the extent of electronic media interest.
Weizmann, a darling
of the media for his pro-Oslo stand while being critical of Prime Minister
Netanyahu, merited a protective wall of media indifference. On the
other hand, Netanyahu’s remark in September 1997, uttered to a Rabbi, that
"the Left has forgotten what is means to be Jewish", was given extreme
coverage, several times daily for a full week. To compound the unbalance
and the consequent favoritism, that same week, his Labor Party rival, Ehud
Barak, was quoted as referring to his possible left-wing Meretz partners
as having less than full Jewish roots. His remark was glossed over
and received little media attention.
In early October
1997, following publication of the attempted assassination of Hamas official
Khaled Mash’al in Jordan, Carmela Menasheh, Kol Yisrael’s military affairs
reporter, was accused of combining her personal views with her factual
news reports. On October 9, IBA D-G Kirschenbaum released a statement
that said: "the public is not stupid and knows to distinguish between a
news item and commentary on the news. In a matter such as the affair
in Jordan, all the press dealt with both news and opinion while reporters
brought both news and opinion together. To the best of my knowledge,
Carmela did not express her own personal opinion..." (63).
It was less than
appropriate, and that an understatement, that the IBA head, who also serves
as its chief editor, seek to excuse an incident of blatant unethical behavior
while noting, at one and the same time, that "everyone is doing it" and
that "she didn’t do it".
That the IBA D-G
was unable, publicly, to differentiate between what is practiced and what
should be practiced, and what is correct for the public broadcasting network
while belittling the ethic’s code of the IBA, should be extremely disappointing
and painful for the public. It seems that there is no real serious
attention paid to the matter of broadcasting ethics. The IBA’s professional
executive were not willing to recognize the problem. Moreover, there seems
to exist a major difficulty of exerting control over what is happening
in the IBA. The result is unbalanced broadcasting which, of necessity,
is biased broadcasting.
in parentheses in the following section refer to the Nakdi Document)
Balance - What is It and For What Purpose?
According to the
‘Nakdi Document’, "balance" is defined as permitting fair and impartial
expression of different opinions in correct proportions, both in news and
opinion broadcasts without awarding points (para. 41; 45). A central
element of balance is "the ability to bring the news in the most objective
and neutral manner (para. 26) as well as the prohibition "to broadcast
feelings instead of information", that is, "the report must be factual
and as complete as possible" (para. 27). These regulations, and others,
all stem from the fourth paragraph of the Law of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority which stipulates that "in the broadcasts, a place should be given
for the proper expression of the views and different opinions currently
held by the public" and the third paragraph which obligates the IBA
to broadcast information on "the current affairs of the state, its struggle,
its creativity and its achievements".
The editors of the
last edition (64) of the Nakdi Document write in their introduction that
"we should always review what is the measure of the journalist’s ability
to present before the media consumer the full, exact and significant picture
and what is the measure of purposeful concealing, of bias in every one
of the stages in the process of transferring data from the news department
employee, who is the provider and agent, to the viewer and listener - the
Imbalance is created
when there is no supervision or control over the various ethical fields:
expressing one’s personal opinion, lack of response, using a value-loaded
term, attaching titles, not broadcasting information, lack of variety,
not identifying the commentator’s background, preventing pluralism and
the squelching of criticism. Balance is intended not only because
of the demands of the professional code but to avoid the entrenchment of
tendentiousness, especially in a public broadcasting system that is involved
in "public broadcasting". Such an authority must be particularly
careful, due to its legal and public responsibility.
In an interview conducted
by Razi Barkai with Benjamin Netanyahu on the former’s "Media File" television
program on February 21, 1998, the Prime Minister made clear what must be
the responsible position that the IBA should adopt as well as any public
Is the IBA, in your opinion, balanced? B. Netanyahu: "The problem is not
in the political views of the editors or the broadcasters, even if in this
instance there should be a certain balance. The problem is in assuring
the professional ethic. There are private views of a person and there
is his ability to give expression to the variety of existing views.
This is the main thing".
What follows are
examples of the most frequent forms of imbalance.
Expressing Personal Opinion
IBA employees are
obligated to distinguish between their opinions and the facts (para. 26
quoted above and para. 27: "the broadcaster must avoid expressions of solidarity
with matters he covers"). Even in an interview, there exists a similar
prohibition (para. 77b). Despite this, many broadcasters, interviewers
and show hosts occasionally allow themselves to add expressions or statements
that reflect their personal opinion. Such an expression can influence
the media consumer as regards the subject at hand and, as such, is an act
of bias. While, separately, these instances may be thought minor,
it is their cumulative, "drip" effect that presents a problem.
Kol Yisrael’s military
affairs reporter, Ms. Carmela Menasheh, often crosses the line between
news and views. The IBA’s ombudsman was forced to bring to the attention
of the radio’s director several justified complaints against Ms. Menasheh.
In addition to the example above (the Mash’al affair), Menasheh, on April
14, 1997, reported on the Prime Minister’s plan to spend the Seder night
at an army base. In her report, she asked "why must the PM disturb
hundreds of soldiers?" who, in her opinion, would be affected by Netanyahu’s
decision. On September 14, 1997, in a report on Lebanon, she added
"a solution must be found".
Mr. Aryeh Golan,
too, too frequently expresses his own private opinions within the framework
of his hosting of the daily morning news wrap up program on radio.
The IBA ombudsman, Mr. Viktor Grayevsky, wrote IMW on October 7, 1997,
that "your complaint was passed on to radio director Amnon Nadav, with
my request that he reprimand him due to his expressions. I hope that
he will pay special attention to the matter". (65)
Non-Broadcasting of Information
It is the journalist’s
obligation to provide the media consumer with as full a factual report
as possible. Even if there is no absolute objectivity in the selection
of news items (para. 59), the journalist's competency is judged by his
ability to gather data and to expose it (Introduction, p. 10). The
reporter is to be a "fair agent" in the transferal of news (op. cit., p.
11). As the Nakdi Document makes clear there, when news items are
not broadcast, one is free to mull over the possibility that the result
is coincidental or one that stems from bias.
The slap across the
face that Moshe Nussbaum received from President Weizmann (as described
above) is a classic example of a news item hidden from the public by the
media. A similar situation arose over the Gabi Butbol affair.
A member of the IBA’s plenum, he was quite active in criticizing the IBA’s
professional executive. As a result of a directive issued by Mordechai
Kirschenbaum, IBA’s Director-General, the "Popolitika" program producer
sent a researcher to check up on Butbol’s performance as an administrator.
Realizing what was developing, Butbol complained to the IBA’s Chairperson,
Rina Shapira. The affair eventually reaching the courts, after over
a year of deliberations, investigations and public debate. Not one
item of this affair was broadcast over IBA’s radio and television news
programs until the very last stage.
The "Mabat" evening
news program never informed the public that the PA’s police force had invaded
the White Russian Orthodox monastery in Hebron, throwing out its residents
and their belongings and beating up two nuns in August 1997, an interesting
and relevant story of a religious conflict. That same week, however, several
nights were devoted to highlighting the parallel story of a young woman,
Tatiana Susskin, pasting up caricatures of Mohammed as a pig in Hebron
causing religious conflict.
As was pointed out
in a previous chapter on the media during the 1996 election campaign,
Shimon Peres achieved media preference and sympathy apparently stemming
from a dovetailing of interests and values between Peres’ policies and
those of some outstanding media personnel. Interviewed by Daniel
Ben-Simon for a book on the elections, Peres’s remarks on the quality of
those who voted against him appeared on the very first page. Those who
lent their support to his opponent were "all those who do not possess an
Israeli mentality". In response to the follow-up question, who are
these people, Peres, in a clear racist tone, declared "it’s possible to
call them ‘the Jews’". (66)
The book was widely
reviewed and yet no media personality thought to question Shimon Peres
as to the implications of his remarks. Even following a speech in
the Knesset by Prime Minister Netanyahu attacking Peres over the content
of what he said, the broadcast media ignored the issue, preferring it to
die a death of neglect. If one considers the outpouring of media
interest dedicated to Netanyahu’s statement to Rabbi Kadouri, mentioned
above, or more recently, that devoted to MK Ori Orr’s racist comments on
Moroccans in an August 1998 interview with the same Daniel Ben-Simon, the
dearth of media attention is a stark stain on the conscious of media personnel.
Non-Identification of a Commentator
The code of ethics
is quite clear about political commentators: "when there exists a link
between a commentator’s political belief and the subject under discussion,
there is an obligation to note the political background" (para. 23).
This principle is quite obvious in the need for full disclosure to enable
the media consumer to judge for himself the worth of the commentary.
Nevertheless, the IBA has failed and continues to do so, especially in
regards to two frequent commentators: Amnon Avramovicz and Professor Asa
The simple and plain
fact that Kasher was a candidate for elections to the 14th Knesset on the
Meretz list, the radical liberal political grouping headed by Yossi Sarid
and Shulamit Aloni, was never mentioned in any of Kasher’s appearances
on television and radio over the past two years. Kasher, who authored the
controversial Code of Ethics for the Israel Defense Forces, was, for example,
the studio commentator for over two hours on the live broadcast program
of the state ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s
Mr. Avramovicz first
appeared on the "Yoman" Friday night news review program as a commentator
and now is an editor of the program, siting in the studio. He also
appeared as a regular commentator for the daily "Mabat" news program on
issues of security and undercover intelligence affairs. He expressed
chagrin at handing over a ‘present’ to the right-wing when he identified
Avishai Raviv as a General Security Services agent who’s code name was
"Champagne". In a newspaper interview (67), he revealed that he was
a Labor Party supporter for years and that in publishing an item about
a planned assassination attempt on a PLO chief, he intended to harm the
Likud’s reelection chances back in 1981. This data, which would seemingly
compromise his objectivity, and at the very least, oblige the IBA heads
to balance him with an opposite number, made no impression at all. Avramovicz’s
standing has only increased over the years and he was allowed to get away
with a blatant biased performance when he questioned then-Foreign Minister
David Levy about Netanyahu, asking him: "do you trust the Prime Minister’s
psychological stability?". (68) The question was not only lacking
in good taste but patently exceeded the professional expertise of both
Avramovicz as well as David Levy.
Imbalance in the Inviting of Guests and Commentators
An imbalance in the
inviting of guests, either in their number or in the framework of their
appearance, will cause the phenomenon of ‘stacking the deck’. For
example, the regular panel journalists on the "Popolitika" program
is all but absolutely identified as open supporters of the Oslo process
and as leftist in general foreign affairs and security matters. This was
true both before and after the 1996 elections. In addition, they
do not appear as questioners or interviewers but make personal opinion
statements. A detailed survey of this is contained in IMW’s
special report mentioned above. IMW has documented other examples
as in the week following Rabin’s assassination, also previously noted.
Several additional examples follow.
A year and seven
weeks after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, "Popolitika" devoted its October
27, 1997 program to the issue. The panelists included Daliah Filosof-Rabin,
his daughter, Professor Anita Shapira, head of the Rabin Heritage Center,
Dr. Menachem Klein and Dr. Gutwein, both supporters of left-wing politics.
All of them spoke out against the nationalist camp whose sole representative,
one out of five, was Yisrael Harel. On September 17, 1997, MK Benny
Begin appeared on the "Conference Call" TV program opposite three members
of the "Four Mothers" movement demanding an immediate and unilateral withdrawal
from Lebanon. Not only was their imbalance in the number of guests
and the time devoted discussion of the viewpoints but Begin was consistently
interrupted and hardly completed a sentence. In addition, no other
intermediate opinion was discussed.
The fourth paragraph
of the IBA Law obliges the authority to broadcast "reliable information".
The Nakdi Document makes it clear that an insufficient check of sources
or a cross-checking of sources will cause the reporter, out of neglect
or personal preference, to broadcast unreliable information.
One such example
is a story first reported in the summer of 1995 on the "Yoman" program
that the lack of adequate water supplies to the Hebron Hills region was
due to the overuse of water by the Jewish residents of the area.
The Kiryat Arba swimming pool was shown juxtaposed to an empty faucet in
an Arab house. Despite protests, no follow-up story was broadcast.
Two years later, the Civil Administration of the territories confirmed
that 40% of the water destined for Hebron was stolen, drained off on the
way, by Arab farmers. The story reappeared in the summer of 1998,
again without due reference to the reality of the situation.
In another instance,
Yaron Dekel, political affairs correspondent for Kol Yisrael, quoted a
fictitious quotation in a May 9, 1997 broadcast a report concerning a Labor
Party gathering that day. He claimed that Ziad Abu-Ziad, PA legislator,
was a supporter of the Beilin-Abu-Mazen agreement and so spoke at the gathering.
Abu-Ziad called in to correct the attribution, which was done several hours
later, commenting that Dekel had not been present. Suspicion fell
on Yossi Beilin as the source. Dekel, who failed to confirm his story,
was perceived, along with his editor, to have provided Beilin with political
back up at the expense of journalistic ethics.
The use of unclear
terms, purposefully beclouding issues, is another cause of unreliability.
For example, the use of "security elements". The public is unaware
whether such "persons" are truly a soldier under uniform who desires to
hide his identity or a political figure with a military background who
is hiding his political inclinations. An example of such a usage
is the report by Carmela Menasheh in the morning news review on Kol Yisrael
on April 3, 1997. There she quoted "assessments" of "security
elements" and "army elements". Among the "assessments" was the firm
belief that "only the action undertaken by the Palestinian security factors
can prevent planned terrorist attacks", as if the IDF and the GSS were
irrelevant. Without a clear identity of the source, the media consumer
could have been receiving political propaganda disguised as actual army
Ronnie Milo, mayor
of Tel Aviv, is probably an outstanding example of this problem.
Until declaring his candidacy for the prime ministership in late
spring 1998, Milo had been a regular panel guest on a political affairs
program, "Game of Shabbat", broadcast twice on Saturdays, in the morning
and repeated in the evenings. He was present in over 85% of the programs
In a period of personal
elections for mayorships as well as newly introduced primary elections,
the political weight that can be garnered through unique television or
radio appearances is great. There was no justification for the granting
of such a unique platform for any politician. The preference granted
Milo, despite many complaints, damaged his potential political rivals.
a media allure to active politicians by applying to them the title "commentators"
as if they were neutral observers, academicians or experts instead of being
intensely involved with a personal stake in the subject they are
discussing. For example, MK Amnon Rubinstein of the Meretz Party,
although a Professor of Law at the Tel Aviv University, is a full-time
politician. Despite this, he often appears as a commentator on legal
issues. General (Res.) Oren Shachor, who joined the Labor Party and
serves as a close advisor to its head, Ehud Barak, frequently appears as
a commentator on issues concerning the negotiations with the Palestinian
In connection with
the problem of political bias, one cannot ignore the media event of 1997:
the "Bar-On - Hebron" Affair. (69) Many saw this affair as a media
coordinated effort to act outside the democratic process against a prime
minister elected in direct elections. The criticism against the character
of the reporting and the way the coverage was broadcast, especially by
Channel One TV was quite bitter during the three months the affair
was in the news. The criticism originated from many quarters.
IMW complained and released statements regarding ethical and professional
errors in the reporting and coverage. The damaging inside media
story, though, was that of Aviv Bushinsky, Radio Kol Yisrael’s police reporter.
Aviv Bushinsky published
an article (70) in response to remarks made in reference to his professional
work ethic by Rafi Halabi, head of IBA television’s news division as well
as Mordechai Kirschenbaum, the IBA Director-General at the time.
Bushinsky reiterated his remarks on a Kol Yisrael radio interview program
hosted by Nadav HaEtzni and broadcast on September 14, 1997. On the
face of the charges made by Bushinsky in relation to the television coverage
of the "Bar-On" Affair, a serious investigation should have been initiated
into the machinations of the television news department. This was
never done although Kirschenbaum attempted to launch an investigation against
Bushinsky but was halted by the IBA’s public supervisory body and its chairperson,
Prof. Rina Shapira.
did not always coincide with the version of the affair that was being promoted
by the television. Echoes of the differences of opinion leaked to
the press. Bushinsky accused Channel One TV of unethical behavior,
especially on the part of Halabi and Chason. Bushinsky also hinted
at criminal suspicions. Bushinsky quoted from taped recorded conversations
he conducted with Halabi, in which Halabi spoke in a threatening and caustic
manner, attempting to influence the way Bushinsky was reporting.
Halabi, as evidenced from the taped conversation, viewed his journalistic
duty as managing a battle over whether criminal charges would be made against
Netanyahu and others. He accused Bushinsky of acting out of self-interest
and pressured Bushinsky, reminding him that he (Halabi) had spoken to Kirschenbaum,
the head of the radio and the head of the radio news division.
that the television news division did not draw conclusions from the initial
hurried manner in which the first broadcast was made, lacking, as it did,
a reaction from Bar-On. He wrote that they labored for some time
to substantiate and verify the original story, all the while putting on
a "show" as if they that version was authentic, that the coverage of the
police investigation was coordinated with the police investigators themselves
while Chason awarded marks to this and that investigator in her televised
reports and praising others. He also accused Channel One television
of ignoring the fact that the suspected source for Chason’s story, advocate
Dan Avi-Yitzhak, was interrogated by the police and that Chason’s reports,
in part, represented interference with the police investigation when, in
an attempt to gain his reaction, she informed Bar-On that the police were
on their way to his office. The fact that an internal police investigation
was conducted against the police investigation team’s second in command
was suppressed by Chason. And lastly, Bushinsky pointed out that
reports carried by Channel Two and the Ma’ariv newspaper regarding Avi-Yitzhak’s
behavior were ignored by Channel One.
On the basis of this
article, IMW requested of IBA Chairperson Shapira that a special review
be conducted. Such an act by the public supervisory body would have
contributed to a clearing the air for if only a portion of Bushinsky’s
charges proved true, the conclusions would have been far-reaching and quite
serious. Except for Kirschenbaum’s announcement that he intended
to review all of Bushinsky’s reports, which he later recanted, no internal
IBA review was ever made of the handling of the Bar-On Affair.
Broadcasting Songs with Political Content
Songs with a strong
left-wing message, whether in their general content or specific phrases,
are frequently heard over the public radio network. For example,
Aviv Gefen sings of "let’s get out of the territories and conquer the peace".
Shalom Chanoch’s song, "Don’t Call Me A People", is accompanied by a video
clip which makes clear the dominance of its one-sided political message.
Songs with an opposing ideological message, such as "Hebron, Now and Forever",
are not heard in any regular entertainment program. Left-wing songs
are also played as background during news programs, thus doubling their
During the 36-hour
national mourning period following the double helicopter crash in 1997,
not one song that could be defined as being Chassidic or Traditional Jewish
was heard. The refraining from broadcasting cultural expressions
deeply rooted in the religious Jewish heritage during general events and
thus preventing the general public from hearing them, as well as the limited
broadcasting of Mediterranean-style music in such situations, amounts to
an imbalance in cultural diversity.
Prevention of Criticism
Ram Evron, former
moderator of the defunct media program, "No Man’s Land", in an interview
published in the Ha’Aretz newspaper (71), admitted that he intentionally
prevented criticism of the IBA from being broadcast on the program.
This discriminatory situation is well known to IMW. Despite repeated
requests to appear on the two main morning radio programs, not once has
an IMW representative been invited to voice his opinion on a media issue.
During the three seasons that "No Man’s Land" was shown, an IMW representative
appeared but once.
As noted previously,
on the eve of the 1996 elections, one of the signatories on the "Open Letter
to the Media", Professor Gavriel Moked, was invited to appear on three
different programs, all of which were canceled. In an unpublished letter,
Moked described "something strange happened to me on the way to the media":
"All these incidents
only strengthened me in my opinion that our media is contaminated not only
with forceful arrogance...[and] ideological uniformity... but, in addition,
the majority of those in the media who set the tone are trying to the domination
a super extreme radicalism, one which is closer to the the "new historians"
who aspire to undermine the Israeli narrative rather than a balanced line
of support for the peace process". (72)
The foregoing are
representative examples from among hundreds of complaints documented by
Israel’s Media Watch and sent to the IBA’s ombudsman, Viktor Grayevsky.
In many cases, the responses of elements within the IBA have not denied
the facts but rather disagreed subjectively as to the seriousness of the
wrongdoing. Amnon Nadav, director of Kol Yisrael radio, who was interviewed
by Shelly Yechimovitz on her program on March 3, 1998, contributed this
insight into the problem existing within the IBA:
"Until the period
of Mordechai Kirschenbaum, the demands made of us were maximalist in that
we should uproot any expressions of personal opinion over the radio and
The cumulation of
so many instances, throughout so many programs, whether in news programs,
commentary or entertainment, point to a clear trend of imbalance in the
broadcasts of the IBA in favor of what is termed "left". It was Allen K.
Simpson, a sharp critic of the American media who delineated the dangers
in the lack of media ethics:
"The media have largely
abandoned all basics of good journalism in favor of slanted, deceptive
and ruthlessly prosecutorial reporting. The public always gets the
story but seldom gets the truth".
Elyakim Rubinstein, is also aware of the shortcomings of the Israeli media.
In a speech before the delegates of the Journalists Association, he spoke
out about some of the stains that should be cleaned out, among them "superficial,
tendentious and unfair" (73)
The patterns of the
Israeli media, essentially, are not too different than those of mass media
in other countries in the fields of non-ethical and non-professional behavior.
On the shelves of university libraries can be found many volumes all dealing
with ethics in broadcasting and other media activity. The power concentrated
in the media naturally attracts criticism and suspicion. It is no
coincidence that every journalist society has a code of ethics. The
ability of the media to influence public opinion demands effective
with the media are of another, more acute, nature. This reality exists
not only because of the severe and repetitive character of the infractions
of the ethics’ code but because of the nature of Israeli society within
a small geographical unit. This reality allows for a greater influence
by the electronic media over the media consumers.
Moreover, the media
elite has succeeded in preventing the entry of journalists with different
approaches and outlooks while defending themselves from any effective form
of public supervision. One such defensive weapon has been the bandying
about of such catch phrases such as "censorship", "injury to democracy"
and "interfering with the right to freedom of expression" against any and
all criticism, all they while exploiting their position as media operatives.
The question which
we asked ourselves at the outset of this report was "is the essence
of Israel’s electronic broadcasting the reporting of news or news management?".
Our findings, and more than the data but the statements of central media
persons themselves, provide the answer: Israel’s electronic media
sees its role not only to report to its viewers and listeners and to comment
on the news, that is, to act as an agent, but to direct and manage the
news so as to set the public agenda. The news becomes an instrument to
be manipulated. This is a mobilized media and in the end, one that
presents a danger to democracy.
this report was going to print, former IBA Director-General,
Mordechai Kirschenbaum, made the following statement in an interview published
in the Yediot Ahronot "Seven Days" Magazine, September 18, 1998, p. 78:
"we (the IBA) were politically stigmatized, naturally, from the moment
Netanyahu came to power because Netanyahu’s right-wing cannot tolerate
free television. From the moment different views are brought to them,
they become deprived. They possess no tolerance. In all that
is connected to incitement against democratic institutions, including the
IBA, and against rivals from opposing political camps, Netanyahu exhibits
fascist tendencies, while, as it were, carrying high the flag of liberalism"
- Selected Bibliography of Works Consulted - Notes
The following books,
articles and research reports have served the authors in preparing this
report and have provided them with insight and understanding regarding
the media and its personnel as well as a source of inspiration. Quotations
are contained in the Notes section.
the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, UK, 1995
BBC, Producers Guidelines
Barnes, Fred, "The
Media on Clinton: How Tough?", in Forbes Media Critic,
The Best and
Worst of America's Journalism, Winter 1995, pp. 32-42
"The Return of Partisan Journalism" in The American Enterprise, March/April
Bozell III, L. Brent,
"Does Today's News Media Manipulate History?", in The American Enterprise,
March/April 1996, pp. 34-36
Bozell III, L. Brent
& Baker, Brent H., "And That's The Way It Isn't - A Reference Guide
to Media Bias", Media Research Center, VA, 1990
Authority, New Zealand, Codes of Broadcasting for
Radio and Television,
de l'Audiovisual, Les etudes CSA, "Reglementation et
en France", Janvier 1996
Diamond, Edwin and
Silverman, Robert A., "White House to Your House: Media
and Politics in
Virtual America", MIT Press, Cambridge, 1997
"Breaking the News - How the Media Undermine American Democracy", Vintage,
"Why Americans Hate the Media" in The Atlantic Monthly,
February 1996, pp.
Commission, "Complaints about Broadcast Journalism", September 1987
Goodwin, H. Eugene,
"Groping for Ethics in Journalism", Iowa State Univ. Press,
K., The Electronic Republic - Reshaping Democracy in the Information Age",
Viking, NY, 1995
Haivri, Ofir, "The
TV and Radio Cartel: It Doesn't Work, Turn It Off", Policy View, No. 11,
March 15, 1995, The Shalem Center
R., and Shapiro, Robert Y., "Toward an Integrated Study of Political Communications,
Public Opinion and Policy-Making Process" in PS: Political Science &
Politics, March 1996, 10-13
"Media Performance - Mass Communication and the Public Interest", SAGE,
Meritt, Davis, "Public
Journalism and Public Life: Why Telling the News is Not Enough", LEA, NJ,
Radio, "Sound Reporting - The NPR Guide to Radio Journalism
Marcus D. Rosenbaum and John Dinges (eds.), Kendall/Hunt, IO, 1992
Commission (UK), Report No. 29, March-April 1995
News Directors Association (RTNDA), Code of Ethics, 1987
P., "Media Coverage of Issues and Candidates: What Balance is Appropriate
in a Democracy?" in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 111 No. 1, 1996,
Russell, Nick, "Morals
and the Media: Ethics in Canadian Journalism", UBC Press, Vancouver,
Society of Professional
Journalists, Code of Ethics, 1996
"What Balance Means", in Communicator, April 1995
"Media and Political Conflict - News from the Middle East", Cambridge Univ.
Ma’ariv daily newspaper, March 20, 1997
Ma’ariv, "The Democratization of Public Broadcasting", June 2, 1997
Gabi Butbol, a member of the IBA plenum, was in 1997 the object of
professional media research procedures. In order to offset his
of them, the IBA’s
TV Director, Spokesperson and the producer of the
program unethically, and in an unauthorized fashion, sought out
on Butbol in an attempt to silence him. None of those involved
subjected to a disciplinary tribunal but instead, reprimands were
files. The High Court of Justice, on an appeal brought by, among
Media Watch, did not find a basis to intervene, seeing that as
IBA’s Chairperson acted with adequate rational, there was no proper
for doing so.
Ma’ariv, July 21, 1997
Makor Rishon weekly, February 6, 1998, p. 21
The Seventh Eye, Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem, Issue No. 3
The Seventh Eye, op. cit., Issue No. 4
Ha’Aretz, May 1; Ha’Aretz, Ma’ariv and Yediot Ahronot, May 2 (with
Ms. Yechimovitz, acknowledged as a brilliant interviewer, worked for the
defunct Al HaMishmar daily, broadcast on Galatz and Kol Yisrael.
appeared on television a few years ago and during the 1997-98
moderated a media critique program, "Press Conference" on TV’s
Ma’ariv, December 5, 1997
"No Man’s Land", TV Channel One, June 5, 1996
"No Man’s Land", May 28, 1997
Yediot Ahronot, November 9, 1995
Margalit, Dan, "These I Have Seen" (Hebrew), Zamora-Beitan, 1997, p. 260
"Mabat", November 18, 1996
"All That Moves" Media Column, "Jerusalem", February 9, 1996
Ma’ariv, February 21, 1997
Ha’Aretz, March 5, 1997
Ha’Aretz, January 10, 1997
Ma’ariv, October 17, 1997
Ma’ariv, August 14, 1998
Otot, February 1998
Ha’Aretz, January 7, 1994
Landres, Israel, ed., Yearbook of the Association of Tel Aviv
1998, p. 138
Report of the Activity of the Public Bodies (in Hebrew), Israel
1995-October 1996, p. 16
see, for example, the comments of Mordechai Gilat, "He Shot Himself in
Foot" (in Hebrew), Yediot Ahronot, July 23, 1998
Ma'ariv, June 19, 1998
Begin, Binyamin Zeev, "Of Lies and Of People" (in Hebrew), Yediot
Supplement, p. 23
Interview with MK Benjamin Begin
Ma’ariv, Shabbat Supplement, May 20, 1994, p. 5.
left Ma’ariv later that year and since the summer of 1995 has
a regular commentator on a personal contract with the IBA.
Ha’aretz, Weekend Supplement, December 26, 1997
July 6, 1998, the "It’s All Talk" program on the Second Radio Program
Shamgar Commission Report, Chapter 4, paragraph 2, p. 26
op. cit., paragraph 4, p. 28
Educational Television Network, March 6, 1996, broadcast over IBA’s
"New Evening" program, March 11, 1996
Epstein, Raya, "Israeli Bolshevism Disguised as Liberal Democracy" in
No. 56, Iyar 5757 - May 1997, pp. 47-48
Rosenblatt, Y., "Who Will Watch the Watchdogs?", Ma’ariv, June 6, 1998
As reported in Ha’Aretz, Weekend Supplement, July 10, 1998, p. 16
Margalit, Dan, "I Have Seen Them All" (in Hebrew), p. 260
Davar Rishon (now defunct), November 21, 1995.
Ma’ariv, November 17, 1995
The term ‘National Camp’ is used to describe the wide range of
parties (including the Likud, National Religious Party, Tzomet,
et al.) as well as extra-parliamentary groups (including the
Council, Professors for a Secure Israel, Women in Green, Zo Artzeinu
the Ma’amatz Committee)
Shefer, Tamir, "A Late Ignition" (in Hebrew), Ha’Aretz, June 3, 1998
Shefer relayed, in a private conversation with the author, that his
publication by several months.
Ha’Aretz, Book Review Section, March 27, 1996
CEC Minutes, Meeting June 5, 1996
"Media File", June 6, 1996
The Seventh Eye, Issue No. 3, p. 18
Ma’ariv, April 19, 1996
Ha’Aretz, April 15, 1996
"Yoman", May 24, 1996
Davar Rishon, April 29, 1996
Letter dated June 20, 1996
see note 7 above and the article of Avi Posen in The Seventh Eye, Issue
see IMW’s newspaper ad, "Danger - A Mobilized Media!",
the letter is in the files of IMW
Caspit, B., Kfir, I. & "HaMitabdim" (in Hebrew) p. 183
see note 19
"No Man’s Land" program, May 28, 1997
Letter to Chedva Spiegel, T/312, dated February 8, 1996
see Ha’Aretz, Weekend Magazine, October 24, 1997, p. 8
see Yediot Ahronot, October 19, 1997
a new edition of the Nakdi Document was published in September 1998
Following a series of subsequent complaints in May 1998, Grayevsky
the IMW that he had instructed Kol Yisrael director Amnon Nadav to
(emphasis in the original) Golan’s remarks containing personal
but to no avail. Letter Grayevsky to IMW,
Ben-Simon, Daniel, " " (in Hebrew) p. 13
"Yerushalayim", December 15, 1995
"Yoman", October 24, 1997
Appointed as the Attorney General in January 1997, Ronni Bar-On
within two days following the broadcast of a Channel One news
Reporter Ayalah Chason accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of choosing
due to a convoluted political commitment made to the Shas party
Bar-On would grant amnesty to that party’s head, Aryeh Deri, in
for Shas support for the Hebron redeployment. An official
committee found no proof for such an accusation.
"Seventh Eye", Issue 10
Weekend Supplement, September 14, 1997
Handwritten letter in possession of IMW
Annual of the Tel Aviv Journalists Association , 1998
Media Watch is an independent and non-partisan advocacy group thatreviews,
monitors and assesses local media performance. IMW acts to protectmedia
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