Media Pile-Up on Yaalon

Front page article in Yedioth Acharonoth calls Deputy Prime Minister Yaalon ‘stupid,’ hints he is a ‘degenerate.’ Ma'ariv calls him ‘bigmouth.’

Gil Ronen ,

Israeli media. The virus?
Israeli media. The virus?
/ Israel news photo: Shimon Cohen

The day after former IDF Chief of Staff, Minister Moshe Ya’alon, blasted the “elites” and Peace Now as “a virus,” the media elites hit back hard.

Yediot Acharonot, the nation’s largest-circulation paper, featured a front-page editorial on Ya’alon under the header “Degeneral” – a combination of the words “degenerate” and “general.”

The column, by senior correspondent Sima Kadmon, goes on to say: “Instead of beating about the bush, [or] looking for hidden motives, let us say things directly: the man is simply not so smart.”

Yediot Acharonot front page, 20.8.09. Caption at bottom left: 'Degeneral' / Israel news photo: Shimon Cohen

“True, it is terrible to think that he was the supreme commander of our army,” Kadmon wrote, “and it is no less tragic to think that he serves today as Deputy Prime Minister.” She suggests that people need to recognize “the fact that there is a personality problem here.” She winds up her psychological analysis of Ya’alon with the words: “someone once said: when you are born stupid, you remain that way for life.”

The front page headline of Ma’ariv refers to Ya’alon by his nickname, “Bogie,”  and calls the entire matter “A Bogie malfunction.”

'Bogey malfunction' -- Ma'ariv's main news headline / Israel news photo: Shimon Cohen

In a weekly column dedicated to media bias, Shimon Cohen of Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew service noted that the judgmental word “malfunction” was used in a news headline, not an editorial.

In one of the inner pages, the headline is “bigmouth.” Cohen observed: “We all know that this is not a conclusion that the newspapers editors reached after measuring the circumference of [Ya’alon’s] lips. This is defamatory and inflammatory language, bordering upon [the criminal offense] of ‘insulting a public servant.’”

Headline in Ma'ariv: 'Bigmouth' / Israel news photo: Shimon Cohen

The newspaper goes on to “instruct” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “wrack his head and figure out what to do with his deputy.”

Maariv’s sub-headline informed readers that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “boiled” with anger following Yaalon’s comments, which were delivered before the “Feiglinites.” 

Shuki Tausig, writing in media analysis website The Seventh Eye, noted the use of the word “boiled” and asked: “Perhaps he did not boil? Maybe he was just very angry? Or maybe he was not even angry, but simply felt dissatisfaction? Do Ma'ariv’s editors routinely hike through the Prime Minister’s head?”

Tausig also remarked that “Feiglinites” is a demeaning popular term and not the true name of the Jewish Leadership faction in Likud, which is headed by Moshe Feiglin.

“Not just the opinion writers – the news reports in Yediot Acharonot and other newspapers as well was very harsh toward Yaalon,” Tausig added. “Who are the elites that Yaalon attacked?” he asked. “Maybe the communications media is one of them.”