Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eydar - One law, one viewpoint

Dror Eydar
Israel Hayom
23 November '11

I am not a big fan of the proposed amendment to the libel law in its current state. It may even be obsolete. It will definitely be modified before it enters the law books, if it even makes it in. But the propaganda surrounding it in the media this past week can fill an entire new volume of the adventures of Baron Munchausen.

First, a few words to allay our fears. Even if the bill becomes law, the media will continue its investigative reporting – probably presenting more reliable information than before, and hopefully getting responses of the subjects of investigation before going to print. But in my view, that's not the issue here. Instead, the issue at hand is the mass hysteria encouraged by the media, which is careful to allow "experts" to explain the bill's shortfalls but fails to examine the reasons behind the formulation of the bill.

It is not actually the libel law at the heart of the public outcry, but rather the feeling - and I am not sure if it is justified – that something is changing in the state of Denmark. That's the real "danger" that the media chiefs are getting upset about. For ages, the Israeli media has given a platform to a monolithic voice regarding the political and cultural issues that divide Israeli society, but it is convinced that it is being pluralistic. I dare you to find even one newscaster or prime-time television host who hold conservative or neoconservative views. Let me know if you find one.

Did you see the media so completely dedicate itself to a cause during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, when former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon trampled on the will of his constituents and reneged on his promises? Boo hoo, there will no longer be exposes in the media. Even back then the media refrained from publishing damning investigations on the Sharon family, in following the underhanded advice of journalist Amnon Abramovitch, who called on his underlings to coddle the once-hated Sharon - the same Sharon who became their hero because he fulfilled their dream [of evacuating the settlements in the Gaza Strip]. Remember that? Or the historical Oslo Accords that were approved by a hairbreadth majority. I don't recall talk back then about an immoral majority, vote theft, or the trouncing of the minority by a random majority – the kind of talk that we heard all last week.

Take all the core issues under serious discussion in Israel today and ask yourselves: does the media really care to present the full range of opinions on these issues? Yesterday morning, journalist Razi Barkai interviewed Prof. Mordechai Kremnizer, following an interview with Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, and before that Prof. Yedidia Stern - three people who get interviewed time and time again. The common thread among them is that they all head the Israel Democracy Institute, a leftist body that opposes current legislation – and that is their right. But you won't find Barkai interviewing experts with no less merit who support the legislation. That is the world that he, and most of his colleagues, live in. That is also the depth of the news editors' interviewee lists - editors who all individually think alike.

Yes, we are all idiots - idiots who fatefully accept a one-dimensional media, whose political motivations supersede any journalistic ethics, and whose intellectual curiosity is limited to a narrow and embarrassing list of topics.

The proposed libel law amendment reflects the age-old mutual alienation that exists between the Israeli media and the public. It reflects the impossible situation in which a minority group has imposed its values, lifestyle, preferences, and belief system on us, while attempting to silence, ridicule, and drive the true majority insane.

Unfortunately, ethical journalism expired a long time ago, and with it went objectivity and integrity. And where there are no ethics, there will be laws.

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