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Israel Today – Can You Believe?

Yes we can, you might want spontaneously to say. Or even shout. But wait a moment longer before you do that, and let me tell you why I’m asking you this question. And no, it’s not because of what happened last week in Jerusalem, the “lynch”—or attempted lynch of an Arab youth from East Jerusalem, who were attacked by a group of Israeli teenagers out to have some fun on a busy Jerusalem street and kill some Arabs for a good measure. They knocked Jamal Julani unconscious, while hundreds of Israeli bystanders stood ideally by without lifting a finger to help him. After the beating, one young Israeli man did give him a CPR, called an ambulance and may indeed saved his life. This racist incident, which exposed to the eyes of the world the kind of society the Israel of today is—is important enough for a separate article with the above title. And yet, so much has been written about it already that you probably don’t need me to hammer it home for you.

As it were, I’m here to tell you something else entirely. Something you probably were not even aware of—so was I, until lately—even though Israelis are aware of it very much. Here it is, then: The most read Israeli newspaper these days, according to the latest data, is a paper called “Israel Today.” Yes, very much in the vein—as a lot of things in Israel are—of the American paper “USA Today”. Here the big difference, though, and what makes this story so, well, unbelievable. This newspaper, which by all appearances resembles any old tabloid newspaper, is the most popular and read Israeli newspaper today (on weekdays). Yet it’s free! Can you believe?!… And the owner is none other than our dear old friend Sheldon Adelson—yes, the Las Vegas casino mogul who seems to be everywhere these days; buying politicians and opinion makers from the right—who is the financier of this vanity newspaper, to which the majority of Israelis are now exposed, mostly free of charge. Israelis such as my sister, for instance, who called it “Our Pravda;” or a woman friend of mine living in Tel Aviv who called it bluntly “Bibi’s Paper,” are apparently in the minority.

Another words, the newspaper from which most Israelis get their information, analysis and opinions these days is Netanyahu’s Shofar (horn). A right-wing newspaper, paying well enough—remember who own it!—so that even some known, respected Israeli journalist write in it daily. No diversity of opinions is allowed, as I understand—full disclosure: I never set my eyes on that paper—and as far as political coverage go, only what serves Netanyahu and his Likud party is allowed to be loudly heard. “A danger to democracy,” said the Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini. And since a Jewish “Ropert Murdoch” finances it—it’s free! Read all about it, people of Israel, sports and culture and the economy if you like, but as far as politics are concerned, you better believe what we are telling you, even if it’s so one-sided.

No wonder, then, that Israeli teenagers are growing up the way they do. No wonder they believe that “a good Arab is a dead Arab.” Or, as the 15-year-old suspect standing outside court said (according to the NYT, 8/20/12), “for my part he can die, he’s an Arab.” Reflecting on that was Nimrod Aloni, head of the institute for educational at a Tel Aviv teachers college, who said, “… this is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K.” No wonder, therefore, that there are more and more signs that the enlightened, democratic, educated, tolerant Israel we knew and loved is a thing of the past, as it rapidly becoming “Israel Today:” a darkened, undemocratic, racist and ignorant. I don’t want to believe it, but it seems to be true.

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One Response

  1. Hillel:

    You’ve been away from Israel too long. You’ve become like those Jews and others in America who read just the headlines of Israel and think it has gone to hell. If you read just the news of any country, you would think they have all gone to hell. Yes, Israel has problems. One of them is with people who have racist and anti-democratic tendencies. They need to be fought and, as one who lives in Israel seven months of the year, I can tell you that there are plenty of people who are fighting back. Was America a fascist and anti-democratic and racist country when George Wallace got 40 percent of the vote in the Democractic primaries in 1968? Is it when Arizona’s governor comes out with her outlandish policies and comments? No. Good people fight back and that is what is happening in Israel. In response to the recent incidents, all schools in Israel started the new school year by having sessions on tolerance, democracy, and respect for others. If only all countries responded like that. So, critique and criticize all you want. But please keep things in perspective and put them in context. Please do not draw outrageous conclusions. It does not help the discussion or Israel.

    By the way, Israel could use voices like yours–in Israel.

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