Of Rush, Dreyfus and Arutz Sheva

Sometimes it does seem that Israel and America are joined at the hip. What's happening to Arutz Sheva is Rush Limbaugh all over again.

Jack Engelhard

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Sometimes it does seem that Israel and America are joined at the hip. What's happening to Arutz Sheva is Rush Limbaugh all over again.

The parallels are astonishing. Both (coincidentally) were radio-born 15 years ago; both arrived at a time when the Leftist Establishment dominated the news media by print and by air; both fed a "silent majority" hungry for patriotism; both succeeded beyond expectations; and both irked the Establishment to a frenzy of reprisals.

Just as Limbaugh, here in America, was caught on a technicality, so did the courts in Israel snare (and convict) Arutz Sheva on a legalism. Limbaugh is off the air to recover from his abuse of prescription drugs. His temporary absence, which leaves his loyal 20 million listeners suffering equal pangs of withdrawal, has nothing to do with his outspoken conservatism, but liberals are dancing in the streets anyway.

The parallel ends here, for Arutz Sheva was closed down by the government specifically because of its conservatism, its call for national pride... never mind the legalistic cover-up.

Back up the calendar and the parallel picks up again. Back in the old days, here in America, we got our information from the mainstream Left, before cable came along, or, to be exact, before Fox TV News came to eclipse CNN and the rest. Our diet for news consisted of CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. Peter Jennings of ABC had the highest ratings and only those who chose to be blind, deaf and dumb would deny that Jennings (a Canadian import) slanted his reports to the demerit of America and Israel. He has been accused of anti-Semitism.

So has Anthony Lewis, who's been silent from the pages of the New York Times (G-d does answer prayers), but while he reigned on op-ed, he was America's most lethal Leftist radical. Jennings and Lewis were a tag-team that took turns body-slamming America and Israel. When it came to Israel, especially, these two could never find a good word.

Lewis' replacement at the Times, Tom Friedman, has been just as sinister, only Friedman is more cunning. Where Lewis was obvious, obnoxious and transparent, Friedman knows how to cloud his contempt for Israel with words of praise. He knows how to use flattery to set-up an "Israel must give up the occupation" sucker-punch.

Men and women like these ruled the broadsheets and the airwaves. Then along came Rush, and said it's okay to love America, and quicker than you could say Ronald Reagan, his audience grew to 20 million. All this on radio, not even television. The Media Establishment was incensed, not only that there was a Rush, but that there were 20 million like him, and perhaps a hundred million more "ditto-heads."

After all the Leftward news-shaping, they were furious to find that America had, instead, turned Right. More likely, America had always been more conservative than liberal, only never had a voice to speak for them. To the Establishment, this was war! News and opinion belonged to the Left by birthright. They threatened lawsuits against Limbaugh, tried boycotts, sanctions, ridicule (Al Franken, et al.), and nothing worked. Limbaugh had tapped into a yearning for "old time religion."

Likewise, Arutz Sheva over in Israel, an Israel where the rule of the minority Left is absolute. The Left has held the ball for so long that it actually believes the game is being played fair. Newspapers like Haaretz carry on unmolested and, even more mind-boggling, al-Jazeera broadcasts from Ramallah. Hebrew radio stations like Kol Yisrael and Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio) systematically broadcast from an Arab point of view.

Then Arutz Sheva, particularly by radio, but also by its ascending websites (in English - IsraelNN.com, Hebrew - A7.org, Russian - SedmoyKanal.com, and French - A7fr.com), came along and said, "It's okay to love Israel."

Arutz Sheva did not find an audience, the audience found Arutz Sheva. By the tens of thousands, in homes, cars, cabs, workplaces, Israelis found their yearning for traditional Zionist and Torah values singularly answered by this radio station that was denied the right to exist and so had to broadcast from aboard a ship from outside territorial waters.

That was the catch. They caught Limbaugh with those prescription drugs... and someone caught Arutz Sheva momentarily within territorial waters. Gotcha!

Never mind that the ship was lured in by a false terrorist warning, and never mind that Israel's pride ? democracy ? is being undone by so brazen a denial of freedom of the airwaves.

How incredible that in a free country a radio network must walk on water to keep up with the Broadcast Police! (This cold not happen here. Imagine the government using legalistic tricks to bring down pro-American, pro-Christian news sources like Fox or Trinity Broadcasting Network. Impossible.) All of this is more, or less, than politics. It's about turf. Back here, turf wars between the Hearsts and the Pulitzers often turned bloody. But it was a fair game under the protection of freedom of the press. The government sat back and said ? you two fight it out and settle it between yourselves. Not so in Israel, where the government says play Monopoly... but hands the Left loaded dice to use against any National Camp opponent.

Late word has it that Knesset member Zahava Gal'on now aims to shut down Arutz Sheva's thriving Internet sites as well, for "incitement." What's next on the Leftist agenda? Book burning? Never mind, that's already begun with the muzzling (same as burning) of Arutz Sheva's voice on radio, and now this. By the way, who's "inciting" whom?

In America, Limbaugh will surely be back. In Israel, Arutz Sheva must be restored fully, instantly. The chill of tyranny should be a warning that anyone can be next.

But maybe I was wrong in drawing this America/Israel parallel, for if the courts go ahead with this bullying of Arutz Sheva and its directors, who face prison (Devil's Island?), then we've got another Alfred Dreyfus Affair, only this time we don't have the French to blame. Another Emile Zola will have to rise up and declare against Israel's Leftist demagogues ? "J'accuse."

(A "Please Arrest Me Too" campaign in support of Arutz Sheva, as suggested in this corner and which drew wide email support, can be served by addressing Jerusalem's Magistrates Court or Prime Minister Ariel Sharon personally.)