With elections just seven weeks away, Israel's journalists are fully fledged participants in the contest between left and right, as a leading article in Monday morning's Israel Hayom website shows.
In the seven years since its first issue rolled off the press, Israel Hayom – the freebie newspaper that became Israel's most widely read daily – has been widely accused of being Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's pet publication. Despite selling advertising, the newspaper operates at a loss. It is widely accepted that it was established by Netanyahu's supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, as a counterweight to the rabidly anti-Netanyahu press in the Jewish state – and specifically, to daily newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth, which was the nation's leading daily for decades.
In response, YediothAharonoth and other publications declared war on Israel Hayom. A bill was introduced in the Knesset last year, with the aim of shutting down the freebie paper, a favorite at train stations and shopping centers, which its rivals call “the Bibiton” – a welding of Netanyahu's nickname with the Hebrew word for newspaper – “iton.”
The bill – which passed in the preliminary reading – was seen as proof that Yedioth still wields huge influence among politicians.
On Monday morning, the top story on the “Bibiton's” website was a hit piece against Yedioth and its sister website Ynet, which it referred to as “the Bujiton” – a reference to Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog, leader of the Labor party.
"A black flag is waving over most of the media in our country,” the article by Itzik Saban states. “Red lines are being crossed here. The use of words and descriptions to humiliate and deride a prime minister who was elected with a democratic majority has long crossed the boundary."
Noting the media's ugly attacks on Netanyahu's supposedly impolite behavior at the recent march against terror in Paris – in which he “pushed” his way into the front row – Israel Hayom's article responded specifically to reports in the last few days about a lawsuit filed against Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, by a former employee.
"Today, it is clear as daylight,” writes Saban. “Most of the media – with Yedioth Aharonoth and its website Ynet, which has turned into the Internet's neighborhood bully, at the forefront – work for the Left. It seems that most of the broadcasters, reporters, pundits, editors and 'experts' reaching the printing machines and the studios, are leftists who describe to us the twisted reality in which they live, in their own bubble.
"It appears that they have a clear agenda: to take the government away from Likud and its head. And all means are kosher in their eyes, even though they know that with their own hands and mouths, and the despicable things that they say and print, they are causing the state of Israel great damage, not just in the world but mostly by creating young generations of disillusioned people, who cannot see the great achievements of the state of Israel and its economy.”
The article accuses Yedioth publisher and editor, Arnon “Nonny” Moses, of aspiring to hold “all the strings in his hands, and have the politicians go back to being marionettes for his needs.”
"By the way,” Saban asks the readers, “have you read any criticism at all of Tzipi [Livni], Buji and Yair [Lapid] there recently?”