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From a Delusional Talkback to the Rabin Assassination

Editorial: The media 'storm' over a crazy talkback by a woman from Yitzhar serves to assassinate the character of all settlers.
By Uzi Baruch, Editor-in-Chief
First Publish: 5/8/2014, 5:53 PM

Talkbacks feed media frenzy (illustration).
Talkbacks feed media frenzy (illustration).
Thinkstock

The endless media chatter over the past 24 hours about the phenomenon known as 'Price Tag' makes for difficult listening.

Before we go on, however, it is important to note – and perhaps superfluous – that any reasonable person understands that the so-called Price Tag actions are forbidden ones. They are also unnecessary and damaging to the right wing in Israel, since they provide the foes of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria with additional reasons to attack it, served on a golden platter.

This is all the more true when it comes to an unhinged talkback against IDF soldiers. The talkback that was quoted in the leading headline in Yediot Aharonot, one of Israel's two top-circulation dailies, should never have been written, and its damage is great. However – the internet, in case we have forgotten, is rife with hate talk and incitement against complete sectors, none of which have made it to the top headline in Yediot, which has prided itself for decades as “the nation's newspaper.”

So why are all of the news channels talking away about the young woman and her delusional talkback? Three reasons: silly season, police vindictiveness and politicians' attempts to make political hay.

Allow me to let you in on a secret: after Independence Day, the news industry in Israel goes into a slump. There are no more alcoholic parties that end in murder, no cases of gang rape in Tel Aviv, no natural disasters in the United States, and the Knesset is in recess (which ends, thank G-d, on Monday). This killer combination leads the editors of news shows to look for action. And that is the first reason for the chatter on the current events shows, and the double-spreads in the newspapers, about that stupid talkback.

The second reason, as noted, is the police's ineptitude, which engenders vindictiveness. The Israel Police are having a hard time putting their hands on the unruly kids from northern and southern Israel, Kiryat Ye'arim, as well as Judea and Samaria who spray childish slogans on sundry walls in construction sites.

This helplessness leads the police to hit the residents of Yitzhar with tactics that befit a neighborhood bully more than they do a sovereign body. For example – if you plan on visiting Yitzhar anytime soon, you'd better make sure you are carrying an ID card, and that your driver's license is on you and your car is in tip-top shape. The frustrated police are taking out their angst on all of the community's residents, and administering thorough checkups to all vehicles that enter or drive through it.

But the police's impotent anger is not just vented directly upon the local residents. It also causes the police to adopt a combative media strategy that creates a false picture of reality for media consumers. The police provide fuel for the journalistic fires and fill the newsmen's program lineups. Instead of keeping silent and exhibiting some form of shame, over the ineptitude they have shown in catching actual perpetrators (assuming these really are civilians and not Shin Bet provocateurs), the police choose to strut and crow over every interrogation and warlike nighttime arrest raid they carry out.

It is no coincidence that the Judea and Samaria district police refused to tell Arutz Sheva why they dawdled for weeks before taking action against the delusional talkback by a Yitzhar resident, which they were informed of before Pesach.

Which brings us to the third reason for the chatter – frustrated politicians and their desire to stoke the flames. Take Tzipi Livni, for example, who is bored in the Justice Ministry, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took away her toy, the so-called “peace process.” Livni takes advantage of every Price Tag act for her political agenda and tries to paint a connection between the lawbreakers and the Jewish Home party, and its head, Naftali Bennett. The media plays along with the politicians and spins the debate into a whirlwind, as it is wont to do. IDF Radio outdid its competitors this morning when it interviewed Dalia Rabin, daughter of the late prime minister Yitzchak Rabin. The message to the listeners was not even subtle: the idiotic talkback could lead to the murder of another prime minister.

The incitement in the press trickles down to the citizens who often fall into the media's trap and believe the twisted messages. I was surprised last night – or maybe not – when a driver whose car had stopped next to mine at a traffic light in Ramat Gan castigated me because “my friends” supposedly carry out Price Tag operations.

This unamusing incident proved to me that the targeted character assassination that the press is carrying out against the people of Judea and Samaria – of its own accord and on behalf of the police and leftist politicians – is working.

The media has succeeded in causing Israeli society to see the kippah-wearers in a bad light. Sometimes they target the knitted-kippah Zionist crowd, and sometimes the black-kippah hareidi sector, but it's all part of the same pattern; anyone who doesn't belong to the insular and self enamored Tel Aviv clique is fair game.