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Mainstream Media Doesn’t Just Cover Protests, It Fuels Them

Mainstream Media Doesn’t Just Cover Protests, It Fuels Them

Ma’ariv, Israel, August 1

Fifteen years ago, during an annual ceremony honoring meritorious soldiers at the President’s Residence, one of the honorees declined to shake hands with the chief of staff as an act of protest against the latter’s role in the demolition of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. The soldier, Hananel Dayan, chose a peaceful protest: He didn’t block roads, burn tires, or verbally assault his political rivals. He simply refused to shake the hands of the man who saw his family’s eviction from their home. But the Israeli media – the very same one that claims to protect the freedom of expression and to promote pluralistic ideas – admonished and berated the young man. Unlike the way in which it admired and adores the current protestors marching outside Binyamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, the Israeli press ignored Dayan’s story. This double standard stems from the simple fact that leading Israeli journalists believed that the 2005 Gaza pullout plan was a justified political move. They therefore did everything in their power to support it. Fifteen years have passed since that incident, but the sentiments remained the same: The mainstream media hates Netanyahu and his right-wing allies and will do everything in their power to shut down their voices while empowering and emphasizing those of his opponents. Look at what is happening around us today: I can’t remember a time where so few protestors received such widespread media attention. Political pundits and television anchors have become de facto spokespersons for this anti-Netanyahu group. Roughly 1.3 million Israelis voted for Netanyahu in the most recent elections but these individuals have no voice on television and in the press. The sad truth is that those controlling the media in Israel have already demarcated the boundaries of our political discourse. Yes, they may sometimes bring someone with dissenting opinions to take part in a talk show or give an interview. But the political rhetoric remains bound by the borders they create. They alone decide which narratives are legitimate and which aren’t. And within this reality, people like us, who support Netanyahu and represent the overwhelming majority of Israelis, have no other choice but to bow our heads, keep our mouths shut, and accept the dictates of those in power. – Kalman Liebskind (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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Felice Friedson
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