Daily Israel Report

Media Analysis: Army Radio's Left-Wing Agenda

Last week, popular broadcaster Dudu Alharar accused Army Radio of left-wing extremism. This week, writer Chanie Luz brings proof.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/28/2008, 7:10 PM

Last week, popular broadcaster Dudu Alharar accused Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) of left-wing extremism, and this week, writer Chanie Luz - founder of the Tadmit media watchdog organization of the Land of Israel Legal Forum - brings proof.

Alharar, who is also a musician, actor and producer, was fired from his long-time Army Radio show last month; most observers agree that it was because of the right-wing views he presented. Alharar responded by saying, "This is political persecution and a silencing of mouths... It is perfectly obvious that Army Radio is a left-wing station, which will just continue to destroy the country."

More recently, he said that Army Radio is a "greenhouse for the left-wing."

'Wants to Balance All of Israel Media'
In response, Army Radio director Yitzchak Tunik, who fired Alharar, all but admitted the reason for the firing. Noting for the record that the show ran for an entire year under his command, Tunik said, "Alharar sees his mission in life as balancing not only the shows on Army Radio, but all of the broadcasters in Israeli media."
Luz: "De-humanization creates demonization, and this sums up Barkai's work with regard to the settlers [Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria]."

Luz Takes on Razi Barkai
This week, veteran media analyst Chanie Luz documents how Army Radio's Razi Barkai - one of Israel's most listened-to talk show hosts - slants his program to promote what she calls his anti-settler, left-wing agenda.

In an article for the Omedia Hebrew-language website, Luz writes, "Barkai adjusts the flames of Israeli media, raising the flames (against settlers) at will, and lowering them (against the Arab sector) at will."

"How does a media personality create identification with a subject?" Luz asks. "By bringing a personal story and intensifying its pain and emotion. How is a lack of identification created? By impersonalizing the issue, by generalizing and applying negative group labels, by not allotting air-time, and by blowing up marginal incidents. De-humanization creates demonization, and this sums up Barkai's work with regard to the settlers [Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria]."

Luz provides three recent examples: Barkai's coverage of last month's terrorist attacks in Yitzhar and the Jews' reactions; the destruction of the Federmans' home in Kiryat Arba this week; and anti-Israel marches by Arabs in Jaffa and the Galilee earlier this year.

In the first case, Luz notes that Barkai's show dedicated no more than a half-minute to the voice of Elisheva Federman, who experienced the brunt of what some have called a pogrom in her home by Israeli security forces. Neither was the condemnation by the local mayor - an elected official - of the farm's destruction heard on Barkai's show.

On the other hand, the voice of the Kiryat Arba man who cursed the soldiers who perpetrated the act was broadcast repeatedly, with emphasis provided by Barkai. The show host spoke derisively of "the settlers" - a population of close to 300,000 people - several times.

Terror Attack - No; Jewish Reaction - Yes
Luz also cites Barkai's coverage of the events in Yitzhar. A few weeks earlier, early on Sabbath morning, a Palestinian Authority terrorist entered the Jewish town of Yitzhar in Samaria, attempted to stab and hurl a Jewish boy to his death, and burnt down a house. Local Jews responded by descending on the nearby Arab town where the terrorist had escaped, and they threw rocks and shot in the air.

The next morning, Barkai interviewed no one from Yitzhar or from the boy's family, but he did ask Yesha Council Danny Dayan some questions. When Dayan tried to speak about the terrorist attack, Barkai said, "There is no need to discuss that, it has already been reported." Dayan talked about it anyway, but Barkai finally interrupted and said again that it need not be elaborated upon.

This was after Barkai devoted nearly three minutes of air-time to a friendly chat on the issue with Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit, who once revealed his feelings about religious-nationalists when he said that skullcaps on IDF soldiers remind him of swastikas.

A week later in Yitzhar, the same terrorist attempted once again to infiltrate the town; this time, soldiers shot and killed him. Barkai did not even mention the item. "He certainly did not bring in any army experts to explain how it happened that an attempted murderer was allowed to run free for a week until he succeeded in reaching the scene of his crime for a second try," Luz laments.

"Barkai can claim that this is part of his agenda against threats and violence," Luz writes. "But what happens when it's Arabs who are threatening Jews? Oh, that's different."

Six months ago, Israeli-Arabs marched in the Galilee, waving PLO flags and chanting, "We want a terrorist attack." They also marched in Jaffa, with Peace Now members, calling out the Arab slogan, "In spirit and blood we will redeem you, Jaffa!"

"Following those incidents," Luz notes, "Barkai acted to put down the flames of incitement. He did not broadcast the calls of incitement again and again, and did not incite listeners against the Arab public, but rather worked to lower the flames. In an interview with two members of an Israeli-Arab co-existence organization, the 'isolated' and 'separatist' nature of the incitement was emphasized, and everyone spoke of peace and appeasement. When he wants, he incites, and when he wants, he appeases; this is not journalism, but rather the promotion of an agenda."

Army Radio is a Left-Wing Occupied Station
"It is time to tell the truth," Luz concludes. "Army Radio is an occupied [conquered] radio station. Strongly left-wing personalities, headed by Razi Barkai, have taken over key positions there, and they are leading a campaign of smearing and de-legitimizing the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria... If Army Radio wants to be considered a free and democratic radio station, it must institute immediate balance and employ talk show hosts with clear right-wing stances to offset Barkai and his colleagues."