by Dror Eydar
In short, portraying everyone as "extreme Right" is the work of a political ideologue, not a pundit. This isn't "getting the terms straight," it's indoctrination.
1. On Israel's "Meet the Press," TV host Rina Matzliach brought in three analysts from across the political spectrum: Haim Ramon, Yossi Beilin and Roni Milo -- all of whom oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The feeling the media is broadcasting is deja vu from the 1999 elections: Back then, too, the barrels of all the guns were aimed at Netanyahu. When the program began, Matzliach called on everyone to go vote, because "anyone who doesn't want to vote gives up on democracy." Why? Isn't democracy also the right not to vote? Later, she explained that people who don't vote bolster "the extremists on both sides." We can guess who the "extremists" are. Former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Matzliach's in-house interviewee, has already laid down the empty slogan that the elections are "between Zionism and extremism," and by doing so painted the entire camp to her right (which is most of the people) as extremist and not Zionist.
2. A poll Matzliach presented asked respondents, "Do you want or not want Netanyahu as prime minister?" Most of the public -- 65 percent -- said they did not. So then the question was, "Who is the most fitting [candidate] for prime minister?" This is the breakdown of replies from the Right: 36 percent said Netanyahu; 10 percent said Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett; 10 percent said Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Lieberman; and 3 percent said Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud). Given the fact that Netanyahu is leading the right-wing bloc, it's clear to anyone that even those who prefer Bennett, Lieberman or Ya'alon would prefer to see Netanyahu in the role rather than Livni, Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog, or former Finance Minister and Yesh Atid founder Yair Lapid. In other words, we're talking about support that stands at nearly 60 percent. If we add supporters of former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon (7 percent), we'll get a Soviet majority. But the headline will still be "65 percent don't want Netanyahu." (And over 90 percent don't want the others, but who will tell?)
3. On Army Radio, journalist Amnon Abramovich told interviewer Rino Tzror that "the Labor party, Yesh Atid, and Tzipi [Livni's] Hatnuah aren't Left, they're center. The Left is Meretz and Hadash [the Arab-Jewish Communist Party]. The Right is the Likud. Bennett, Uri Ariel, and their partners are the extreme Right. ... We need to get the terms straight."
Like Matzliach, Abramovich is teaching us what to think and adopting alien geometry. Livni and Herzog are the center? The division between Right and Left here doesn't have much in common with the European tradition of Left and Right. Here, it's mainly a diplomatic question. At one time, the entire Right (and some of the Left) opposed a Palestinian state. It actually turns out that Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi party is farther to the Right than Netanyahu on other issues, which means that Netanyahu represents a center-right position. Some Likud MKs are more right-wing than he is; Naftali Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi and some Yisrael Beytenu MKs (not all) are more to the right than they are; Uri Ariel and Tkuma are farther to the right than Bennett, and Otzma L'Yisrael with Aryeh Eldad even farther to the right. Michael Ben Ari is even more right-wing than Eldad.
In short, portraying everyone as "extreme Right" is the work of a political ideologue, not a pundit. This isn't "getting the terms straight," it's indoctrination. It's much easier to sell "center" than "Left," and rightfully so. When it comes to the diplomatic question: the peace process, the question of Jerusalem, the settlements, etc., it's clear that Herzog and Livni are on the Left. Abramovich identifies with these parties and it's convenient for him to stand in the center rather than, heaven forbid, the extreme Left. This guy sits as the only political analyst on the Channel 2 news, a public media outlet committed to "balanced programming" that is supposed to give "appropriate expression ... to common public views" (as per the Second Broadcasting Authority Law). It would be befitting, at least in the next three months, to juxtapose Abramovich and Matzliach with a political analyst that represents the Right and the conservatives.
4. Veteran journalist Nahum Barnea, in his weekly column, did not hesitate to skewer MK Ayelet Shaked from Habayit Hayehudi. That party scares him and those like him (look up "Abramovich and extremists"). Barnea let his readers in on the secret that Shaked allegedly told one of the state prosecutors, that "in the next government I'll be justice minister. I'll come to destroy you." Horrible. Run to vote, otherwise Habayit Hayehudi will take over from Tzipi "the last bulwark of democracy" Livni. Barnea had no problem adding, "I did not manage to verify the statements with Shaked." If you didn't, don't vilify her.
But the instinct to slander the Right is stronger than the man. It's a habit. On Sunday came the apology. Barnea's story serves as an example of how the media treats the Israeli majority.
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