"So what do you say about Netanyau and Mozes?"

“So you have no problem with what was publicized this week?” I was asked. Yes, I do have a problem with it.

Sivan Rahav Meir ,

Sivan Rahav Meir
Sivan Rahav Meir
צילום: פלאש 90

“So you have no problem with what was publicized this week?” I was asked. Yes, I do have a problem with it.

At face value, it sounds very serious – for both parties involved (not the way each side would like to claim – that the real corruption here belongs to the other party). But I didn’t fall off my chair, because this isn’t the first time I have a problem with the Israeli media. To tell you the truth, I almost always have a problem with it.

Unlike those of you who may have felt that the Holy Temple was just destroyed this past week, I never viewed the media as our Holy Temple. I believe that I represent many people who, like me, have very different expectations from the media. Since the media has been spoken of in such superlatives this past week– as if up until this scandal everything here was perfect and now for the first time there’s an issue – here’s a partial list of the problems. They aren’t necessarily criminal, but they’re important:

Let’s start with the way the media relates to money, externals and publicity. The media repeatedly communicates to us that these are the most important things in life and portrays false models of success to us all. It glorifies personalities on the fringe and refrains from showing us people of character. It has destroyed the innocence of a whole generation of children because it has poisoned them with brassiness, objectification, advertisements and reality shows that are not age-appropriate – and I doubt if they’re appropriate for any age. This is in no way less worrisome than the way Buji, Tzipi or Bibi are covered.

What else? The system: it’s tabloid-style, shallow and crude. A writer or singer needs to get married, divorced or adopt a child in front of the whole country if they are publishing a book or putting out a disk. For good measure, they should also confess to some kind of addiction and be photographed in minimal attire. That’s the way to promote their work and everyone knows it, but remains silent and cooperates.

Let’s move on to the way the media relates to Shabbat. The Israeli media knows how to create a different kind of atmosphere on Israel Remembrance Day, Holocaust Day and Independence Day but they don’t even begin to do it for Shabbat and religious holidays. Many reporters and producers are forced to work on Shabbat (and for what? For a Shabbat-tarbut – Shabbat of culture – with MK David Biton?). After thousands of years of knowing how to stop everything and rest one day a week, this is a very disappointing state of affairs. Once, Shabbat used to be our hallmark.

And it’s not just Shabbat – it’s the way the media relates to Judaism in general. Judaism is portrayed in the media as a problem and never as a solution. Whether it’s partial and distorted quotes in the name of rabbis or adjudicators or screaming headlines with words like religionization or exclusion about any local nonsense – as if any minute we’re about to become another Iran. This superficiality, which is true for the way many sectors of Israeli society are covered by the media, portrays them only as troublemakers – from "settlers" to Israeli Arabs. And it’s detrimental to our social fabric.

We haven’t yet touched upon the marketing content (the fine line between advertisements and programs is getting increasingly blurred). Or the lack of representation of broad sectors of the population (how is it possible that the Likud got 30 mandates and I can’t bet that one senior commentator voted Likud?).

And perhaps most disturbing – the pessimism. A famous saying goes like this: The news begins with “good evening” and then for the next hour the newscasters prove that it’s not true. The public is presented with a collection of mishaps, scandals, demonstrations and prophecies of doom. We constantly hear how we’re being duped and how our money is being wasted. Who decided that only complaining and embitterment is called news? I don’t expect the news to sound like we live in la-la land and it’s true that not everything here is perfect, but soon we’ll be celebrating 70 years of the miracle called the State of Israel and yet the media almost never deals with building, growth, constructive activity, volunteering and education. After watching or listening to the news or reading the paper, the feeling is almost always one of self-despair or hopelessness – about the country or all of humanity.

The list goes on but I think the point is clear. It’s not just crony capitalism and journalism, it’s also the tone. So this week I only added – sadly so – something else to the list.

* The column is from "Yedioth Aharonot" and was translated by Shoshana Silver. Sivan Rahav Meir is a broadcaster on Israel's Channel 2 news.




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