A difference between Arutz Sheva, Times of Israel?

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

(Please note: in this essay, I do not intend to attack the Times of  Israel. I intend only to point out differences between two news outlets. No criticism is intended here, just an observation) 

In Israel, most newspapers seem to have a core point-of-view. From the way a paper presents its 'top headlines', a reader might argue that an Israeli paper has a tendency to highlight headlines that fit--even showcase--the paper's political vision. 

Political bias seems to be an Israeli hallmark. One might even say that a Leftist newspaper typically prints stories that support a Leftist point of view. A Rightist paper will typically print stories that support a Rightist point of view. A religious paper will do the same, with stories typically written with some aspect of Judaism in mind.

Is this correct? Do news outlets in Israel promote political advocacy in place of something more neutral, like reporting the news? 

There are news-days when one cannot see a political slant in the headlines. Put another way, on some days, a reader cannot easily see a political slant. It's either not there--or it isn't obvious. But there are also too many days when one can feel a suspicious politics-at-play appearing in the headlines.  

At least, that's the way main-page headlines looked the other day at the Times of Israel. To see how a bias can creep onto a front page, take a look at the headlines the Times of Israel ran at 11:10 am on July 10, 2017. Then compare those headlines with what Arutz Sheva did that day. The difference is telling.

Here's the Times of Israel:    

-"Ex-IDF major general questioned in submarine fraud probe";

-"After interrogation, police remand 3 suspects in submarine probe";

-"Bennett defends PM on submarine probe as suspects grilled for hours.

There was a fourth, similar submarine-corruption story. But as I prepared this piece, this four-story group was replaced with a new four-group arrangement--about another scandal, this one in the US. The new four-group arrangement was about US President Donald Trump's son and the supposed Russia-Trump connection. 

The four submarine stories in the Times of Israel were about scandal licking at the coat-tails of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The stories all tested the idea that scandal was tainting the leadership of the Prime Minister. The stories were all negative. 

Together, the stories suggested three notions: first, someone close to the Prime Minister was corrupt; second, the Prime Minister himself was cleverly enough corrupt that only those close to him would be caught; and, third, the only person highlighted as defending Netanyahu's possible corruption was the Religious Zionist Naftali Bennett who, along with Netanyahu, is no favorite of Israel's media elite. 

The suggestions were unsavory. Did they hint that someone was trying to oust Netanyahu? 

The top four headlines run by Arutz Sheva at exactly the same moment--11:10 am July 11, 2017--seemed completely different: they weren't about scandal, either in Israel or the US. They were about:  

-"Jews fast, mourn on 17th day of Tammuz";

-Commander of mixed-gender unit  suspended";

"Two new EMT's deliver baby on first-call ever";

-"Stabbing in Beitar Illit";

If you compared the top headlines that moment from these two papers, you'd have no idea they'd been posted online at the same moment on the same day in the same country. 

The Times of Israel didn't seem to be reporting news. Instead, it seemed to be playing partisan politics by splashing 'scandal' all over Israel's leader. 

In comparison with Arutz Sheva that morning, the Times of Israel seemed more a political scandal-monger than a news outlet. It didn't so much taint the Prime Minister as it tainted itself. 

One or two submarine-scandal stories would have sufficed as news. Four such stories suggested an agenda different from 'news'.

There are moments in a week's news when the Times of Israel looks like it's got a political ax to grind. The ax it wields appears to be anti-Right, anti-Nationalistic, not particularly supportive of religious Jewry and overly eager to paint Netanyahu (and anyone who supports him) as a disliked, corrupt leader.  

 Arutz Sheva seemed to be different on that day at that moment. It didn't focus on scandal. It focused on real news.

Do these differences suggest a political bias working at the Times of Israel? Or, do these headline differences prove nothing at all?

It's a question you'll have to answer for yourself. In the meantime, here's a suggestion: once a day for a week, at the same minute, look at the main headlines at both the Times of Israel and Arutz Sheva