News Analysis: Tales of Two Media Reports

Haaretz blames racism for Amir Peretz's low standing, yet scorned Katzav for implying similar victimization. Bias on Voice of Israel as well.

Hillel Fendel,

Haaretz blames anti-Sephardic bias for Peretz's low standing, but blasts Katzav for implying similar bias against him. Voice of Israel's reports about left-wing and nationalist protestors differ markedly.

Haaretz's Double Standard
Referring to the front-page photos of Defense Minister Amir Peretz looking through binoculars whose cap was still on, Levy says this is "part of a long, systematic campaign to portray [Peretz] as ridiculous" and asks:

"Why? Does the defense minister deserve such heaps of ridicule? Do we similarly disparage other leaders who are no lesser failures - the prime minister, for example? The main reason for the mockery - to be distinguished from legitimate, deserved criticism - is rooted in dark places: The problem is in our bigoted binoculars... The dirty campaign being waged against Peretz originates from the prime minister's bureau, his party colleagues and the IDF... Let's call a spade a spade: The mockery of Peretz derives from racism... Let's remove the mask: Unlike many Mizrahim, Peretz remains a Moroccan who did not become Ashkenazi... [He] never switched the mantle of his ethnic origin. And he is paying for this now... The ethnic demon is still here, alive and kicking, this time at Amir Peretz."
Yet when President Moshe Katzav, in his famous desperate speech just a month ago today, implied that he was the victim of similar racism, Gideon Levy and his colleagues at Haaretz - and elsewhere - rushed to ridicule him. Avirama Golan, for instance, wrote,
"Katzav used the journalists' cameras to speak directly to the 'citizens of Israel' and portray himself over and over as a victim of an elitist, well-orchestrated plot... It was the good versus the bad, the light-skinned versus the dark-skinned, the elite versus the undesirable others. Not since former Shas leader Aryeh Deri's 'I am innocent' comments has there been such blatant manipulation by someone who reached the top and then, with the help of his lawyers and media consultants, depicted himself as a miserable victim of the arrogant elite, and in so doing terrorized the public."
Haaretz's Daniel Ben-Simon similarly wrote,
"As long as he [Katzav] was successful, he saw that [his success] as entirely natural. Each time he failed, though, he blamed Israeli society for not being sufficiently mature for someone of his background."
But it was Gideon Levy himself who was the most biting and caustic of all. Calling for Katzav's resignation if only because of the speech itself, Levy wrote,
"We also discovered [during the speech] that the man living in the President's Residence was a paranoid consumed by inferiority complexs. He had climbed to the highest position, yet is still convinced that an 'elitist clique' is persecuting him... We must not let Katzav get away with the accusations against us journalists - of 'spilling his blood,' 'executing him without a trial' and 'cooperating with the police,' all the way to the fact that there are those among us guilty of the grave, original sin of not always being true to our marriages, unlike him, the faithful husband of 37 years. No longer can we tolerate a president who incites against the law authorities. We cannot tolerate a head of state who incites his nation against the media for doing their job."
Levy was contacted by email this morning and asked to explain the apparent double standard.

Voice of Israel's Double Standard
The B'Sheva weekly newspaper features an analysis of two recent Voice of Israel reports, by former Arutz-7 News Editor Haggai Segal.

On Friday, February 16, a routine Voice of Israel news item stated the following:
"Near the village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, a soldier and three Israeli protestors were lightly wounded in clashes near the separation fence. Some 100 Israelis, Palestinians and activists from abroad protested against the fence, and the IDF declared the site a closed military zone. The soldiers fired gas grenades towards the rock-throwers. Our correspondent Guy Kotev reports that the injured were treated on the site."

Segal notes the report's forgiving tone towards left-wing law-breakers who, together with the Palestinian enemy, throw rocks at Israeli soldiers every Friday in anti-wall protests at Bil'in. "They even recently took out a soldier's eye," Segal recalls, "but [state-run public] Voice of Israel Radio continues to grant them the airy title 'demonstrators' or 'Israelis.' The report contains no mention of the left-wing... The term 'Israelis' is very tricky and brazen, in that it grants these far-left radicals an image of being in the consensus."


Asking the reader to imagine the rhetoric had nationalist protestors been engaged in weekly stonings of soldiers, Segal writes that the left-wing violence is vaguely termed "clashes," implying symmetry: "The report does not reveal who started the clash, and lumps together the wounded of both sides, hinting that there are no good or bad guys in this story."

For balance, Voice of Israel's report a few days later states as follows:

"In Hevron, settlers clashed with policemen who were combing the area of the shuk. The police arrested one settler who entered a structure of a Palestinian, and a female settler was arrested on suspicion of attacking policemen. Our correspondent Guy Kotev reports that the policemen were called to the site following a complaint by Palestinians that settlers had invaded their stores in the shuk."
Segal notes that the second report also deals with a clash between soldiers and citizens in Judea and Samaria, but makes it clear who the bad guys are. Neither does the report mention that the invaded structure is of Jewish ownership.



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