Binyamin Netanyahu on Eretz Nehederet
Binyamin Netanyahu on Eretz Nehederetצילום: פלאש 90

Danny Seaman, former Director of the Israeli Government Press Office, harshly criticized the leftist Israeli TV comedy show "Eretz Nehederet" (Wonderful Country). In particular, he highlighted the show's rampant demonization of "settlers," noting distinct traces of anti-Semitism in the show.

While at Ariel University's unique conference last Thursday to analyze the "Disengagement" plan that expelled all Jews from Gaza, Seaman spoke to Arutz Sheva, calling Eretz Nehederet a horrible show, "not just because I say so."

"Any reasonable person who watches this shows sees contents that, if they were directed at a different population, all the bleeding heart liberals would be up in arms," remarked Seaman. "It included ridicule, stereotypes, and an attempt to demonize a population. This has continued for years, not only against the 'settlers' but also against the Mizrachim (Middle Eastern Jews)."

The show attacks all other views but its own to try and form a lock-step opinion, according to Seaman. "The level of entertainment there is substandard, and it's shocking that not one of those screaming about human rights opens their mouth when the demonization is against residents of Judea and Samaria."

He notes that the show portrays such residents as gun-toting radicals that want to murder local Arabs, adding "it's a wretched stereotype that has harmed them for years. It was there before (the 1993) Oslo (Accords), and continued in the Oslo period. They always show right-wingers as extremists for political gain."

However, while the demonization targets "settlers," its damage is not limited to them, for as Seaman says "their approach has spread in the world, and today that's the approach towards all of Israel as extremist and militaristic."

The analysis fits testimony from Judea and Samaria businessmen who note the international boycott has its roots in Tel Aviv, where their products were boycotted before the world caught on.

Aside from demonizing residents of Judea and Samaria, Seaman argues, Eretz Nehederet has "many anti-Semitic characteristics. You don't need to be an expert in anti-Semitism to see the parallel to anti-Semitic works from the past." He added that such derogatory messages influence how many secular Israelis interact with religious Jews.

Seaman said that the media has kept silent about the show's worrying signs, because most top media figures sympathize with those who, like themselves, have a leftist bent. "They try to impress each other" with greater attacks on "settlers" and others they hold in contempt, he said.

Solutions to the slanderous show

As far as solutions to the issue, Siman points to funding, bringing the example of protest in the US against anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli content. A demand from the show's publishers and a general boycott of the program would press financial interests and get the show off the air, argues Seaman.

"The actors think they set the show in motion, but it's all business," he said. "There are accountants, and what interests them is the shekel."

Seaman claimed that lawsuits by MKs over slanderous portrayals in the show are problematic, for they merely increase the public's awareness of the show. Such lawsuits have been filed in the past by Jewish Home MKs Yaakov Katz and Orit Struk, who were depicted embracing the president of Iran.

"The correct path is not through the politicians but through the public," advised Seaman. "The public has means to express a position. The youth organize well, they aren't afraid of expressing a position, or of making efforts."