Nonconformist Pundit Slams Press' Festival of Hypocrisy'

Maariv's Libeskind asks his fellow journalists where they were when Arutz Sheva's radio station was shut down.

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Gil Ronen,

The press
The press
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Columnist Kalman Libeskind of Maariv has penned an article slamming his fellow journalists who participated last week in a convention to protest and organize against what they see as the government's persecution of the press. His voice is a lonely one in the Israeli press, which has united in vilifying the coalition for what it sees as anti-democratic legislation.

The maverick blogger called the confab at Tel Aviv's Cinematheque "a huge festival of hypocrisy."

"Five hundred journalists gathered there to mourn the approaching demise of democracy," Libeskind wrote in his latest column. "'These are dark days,' they warned. 'Freedom of expression is at risk.'

"Don't believe them. They are not worried about the freedom of expression or about democracy. Each one of them came to this conference bearing a load of anger at the stupid MKs from the right that the stupid people have elected. And if we are, indeed, in dark days for democracy, the source of the darkness is that group of journalists who decided to assassinate the democratic process and prevent the elected leaders from fulfilling their mission. The source of this darkness is a violent decision by the press, to brutally assassinate the character of whoever proposes a bill that does not jibe with the values of their news desk, so that he has no choice but to abandon it. 

"Do you really care about freedom of expression, friends? Freedom of the press? Democracy? Maybe you can remind me where you were when the voice of Arutz Sheva was silenced, in a shutdown that stifled a populace that had no other vehicle for making its position known? Why didn't you convene at the Cinematheque then? And where were you when the Oslo B Accords were purchased in exchange for Goldfarb's Mitsubishi [in 1995, MKs Gonen Segev and Alex Goldfarb bolted the Tzomet party, joined Labor, and cast the two votes that enabled Oslo II to pass by a margin of 61-59. Goldfarb received a cabinet post that included a Mitsubishi official car – ed.].

"You did not see that as hurtful to democracy, did you? And when Arik Sharon fired Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon from the government just so he could pass the Disengagement plan? Be honest, weren't those days just a shade more dark for democracy than the bill that will set aside a place on the Committee for Selection of Judges to the chairman of the Bar Association?"

"Isn't it a bit funny," Libeskind asked, "that the only voices that can be heard in this discourse are those that whine that they are being stifled? Listen to Reshet Bet and IDF Radio, watch channels 2 and 10, look at Channel 1's main Friday newscast and tell me if this is what a government-controlled press looks like."

"I heard some journalists explaining this week that the press, too, needs to do some soul searching. Don’t believe them," he warned. "They said it after Oslo. They said it after the Disengagement. They will say it in the future, too. This is their habit. They sin on purpose and then call for reflection. Not because they think it is necessary. It just sounds enlightened."