(translated by Gil Ronen)
The arrest of Uri Bar’am two weeks ago, on suspicion of publishing a video against senior state attorney Shai Nitzan, was a good opportunity to take a serious look at the media’s role in such incitement.
There is no disputing that people who publish films of this nature should be investigated. The question is – what is the point in giving disproportionate publicity to the crazed creations of every person with a keyboard? From Channel 10 I learned that up to the moment at which Bar’am removed the video from the Internet, it had been viewed by 25 people. A short while later, when he became the only subject to interest news providers for an entire 24-hour time span, several million more people heard the reasons why eliminating Nitzan would be a good idea.
If the danger of incitement is that radicals who want to do a deed might get ideas, then Reshet Bet government-run radio host Yaron Dekel – to give one example – is more responsible than Uri Bar’am for the fact that in every household in Israel, people know who “needs to be eliminated.” We shouldn’t belittle the importance that such news reports have sometimes, in illuminating what we often call the “dark corners of Israeli society.” But let’s admit the truth: when Reshet Bet decided to devote an entire day of broadcasting to this video, no one there knew if it was the initiative of a new extreme terror group or of a bored child who had stayed home with the flu.
Just for fun, let’s imagine a more extreme example. Let’s pretend that I am sitting with friends in my living room, sipping beer and telling them that in my opinion, if someone takes out the prime minister, that would not be a bad thing for the country. And let’s say that one of these friends, who is a journalist by trade, places that quote from me on the top headline of his newspaper’s front page. Which one of us is the inciter? Is it I, who blurted it out among friends, or he, who propagated it among all of the country’s crazies?
Stories of this type are usually either ignored or hyped by the media, depending on their political bent. When Ehud Barak received a threatening letter from some idiot with childish handwriting, the story about “extreme right wing threats” opened all the day'snewscasts. When National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari received a similar letter, no one thought it was newsworthy.
Roi Philipstal, a young resident of Tel Aviv who has signed various left-wing petitions, recently wrote a Facebook status message with a clear call: “Who wants to stick a bullet in the head of Ketzaleh-Mengele, just for the fun of it?” (Ketzaleh is MK Yaakov Katz, leader of the National Union party.) Noa Begun, content editor for the portal Tapuz, added a gleeful response to Philipstal’s post: “Oh yeah, definitely.”
This matter was not a secret. Katz filed a complaint with the police and his spokesman put out a press release and sent it to a large mailing list. Well, did you see Channel 10 opening its evening newscast with the item? Did you see Philipstal brought arraigned before a judge? Was Professor Ze’ev Sternhell invited to news talk shows to opine on the matter as a world-renowned expert on incitement? No sir-ee. If someone had decided to make an item out of it, Philpstal would have already been sharing a cell with Uri Bar’am. But it didn’t happen.
And that is why Bar’am is a dangerous inciter who could get 10 years in the slammer, and Philipstal sleeps soundly at home under his down blanket.
Note from IsraelNationalNews: The Attorney General has reportedly decided to investigate the complaint against Roi Philipstal. There has been no news of his arrest, however.