Leftist journalist: Right's ideas make sense

Does a monologue by a mainstream journalist reflect a larger change in Israeli media?

Gil Ronen ,

MK Yinon Magal
MK Yinon Magal
Nati Shohat / Flash 90

If a monologue penned by Haim Etgar, a journalist for mainstream and high-rating Channel 2, is anything to go by – Israel's media may be inching rightward from its notoriously left-wing slant.

Etgar wrote in Maariv, about the interview he conducted last week with MK Yinon Magal, who used to be a colleague of his on Channel 10 News.

He explained that, while he used to admire Magal as a cool-headed professional when they worked side by side, he did not initially like the persona Magal exhibited when he entered politics: "The opinions he expressed, which were not always easy to digest, and frequent studio confrontations, created a media image that made me wonder where the guy I knew had disappeared to."

"But recently," he added, "the more I listen to his fire-breathing confrontations, the more I find myself drawn to agree with some of his opinions, which are expressed in clear and fluent language, and I begin to rethink my harsh judgment of him."

Etgar admitted that when he heard Magal in a televised confrontation on Sunday, he found himself nodding in agreement quite often, and thinking that "for the first time, in the political and security related madness that has descended upon us, someone is actually making some sense here…"

Etgar went further and admitted that even Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, whom he once mocked in a report as "strange," now sounds "coherent and even logical" to his ears.

The solutions offered by nationalists are "simple and clear," he explained. "The speakers are eloquent, sharp witted and contagiously enthusiastic. The new Right is light years away from the National Religious Party – it is accurate and effective."

Magal (Jewish Home) had told Etgar, in a report aired by Channel 2, that he foresees "crazy" violence in the next round of fighting with the Arabs.

"If we are not strong, and if we do not make clear to them that they will pay a price for their violence, there will be a lot of blood here," he told the interviewer. "I think crazy stuff will happen here if this violence continues..." he estimated that 100,000 Arabs might be killed.

Asked if it is not better to show some moderation, so that matters calm down, he replied:

"Achieving calm is not a value. Victory is a value. We need to say the truth, we need to say what we really think, we need to say what the situation really is. People say, 'We have no war with the Palestinian nation; we have a war with the terror organizations.' What is this nonsense? When they murder two parents next to their children, and in all of the [Arab] villages, people hand out candies, what is that? What does it mean? Do we want to turn a blind eye to that?"

When asked if he would prefer someone else at the nation's helm, he said that he hopes to see his party's leader, Naftali Bennett, as prime minister, and that he believes this will happen eventually.

"Listen, I sit at the sessions of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee," he explained. "I hear what is going on in the Gaza Strip. We saw what happened during Operation Protective Edge. We are simply crazy! We are a nation of lunatics, if you look at what we did here in the last 20 years. We were dealing with rocks. Now there are missiles pointed at the state of Israel, all the way to Tel Aviv, and tunnels that pass under the border fence."

He laughed: "It's funny, the Left says to us – 'so why don't you conquer Gaza? Why don't you take their weapons?' I mean really, come on. It was you who broke the jug, and now you want us to put it back to its former state?"

"I hear the footsteps of the Messiah," he said. "If you ask me if there will be a Temple – there will be."