Saturday August 29, 2015
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Dror Eydar

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Last Friday, the readers of Yedioth Ahronoth were treated to a rant by financial commentator Sever Plocker, which sounded like a speech by a bully, accustomed to getting his way by force, who has suddenly met his match, a worthy adversary protecting all the bully's former victims. (Plocker attacked Israel Hayom, which is distributed without charge, for destroying the financial foundation of Israeli print journalism and jeopardizing the existence of other newspapers.) Is there any way to describe Yedioth Ahronoth's behavior toward its competitors over the last few decades as other than terribly belligerent?

I assume that Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon (Noni) Mozes can't write or express himself, so he approached Plocker, formerly of the newspaper Al Hamishmar, the official mouthpiece of the domineering Mapam party (United Workers Party), which, together with Mapai (the precursor of the Labor Party), effectively silenced their ideological rivals. Plocker's transition from Al Hamishmar to Yedioth Ahronoth, and the transition of another key Yedioth commentator, Nahum Barnea, from Mapai's newspaper Davar to Yedioth Ahronoth, represented the Left's hostile takeover of the Israeli mainstream. It was in the mid-1980s that Yedioth Ahronoth became a leftist newspaper.

According to Plocker, there is only one culprit to blame for the current crisis facing Israeli print journalism: Sheldon Adelson, and his newspaper Israel Hayom. The binary picture painted by Plocker falls into line with Yedioth's aggressive agenda. There are the good guys on one side journalists, fact checkers and those with integrity, in other words, the white tribe and the sons of darkness on the other side.

Plocker writes that he heard Adelson speak quite a lot, and even had a fairly good impression of his views, before the latter founded Israel Hayom. It is true, every Israeli can listen and look and learn who Adelson is and what his world view entails. Not so with Noni Mozes can anyone in this universe say anything about the Yedioth Ahronoth publisher? It seems that the secrets of Noni Mozes are guarded with even more vigilance than the secrets of Israel's purported nuclear program. Has anyone written anything about him lately? Can he be seen anywhere? In short, is there any way to gain access to any kind of information on the man who has been controlling our lives for the last 20 years through his control of Israel's largest media conglomerate?

Nada. Nothing. Like Q from the Australian television program The Lost Islands, that is the secret of his power. A senior Israeli journalist once said that "Noni Mozes is the most feared man in media," adding that "no one wants to take on Yedioth Ahronoth." And I ask, why? Would Plocker please explain to his dwindling readership why Yedioth should be feared? Why can't Mozes be liberated from his anonymity with an interview? Let us read about his cultural, political and financial views. Where are the brave fact checkers on television and the radio? Why won't they put a microphone or camera on Mozes? Are we not dealing with a free press?

What Stalinist hypocrisy, to argue that Israel Hayom is the root of Israel's media crisis. All Israelis must now ask themselves: Would they be willing to go back to the days before Israel Hayom entered the market? The good old days when Yedioth Ahronoth had us by our privates? When Yedioth could ruin the life of any politician who deviated from its line, or alternately elevate a corrupt official who advanced the paper's agenda? Yedioth veterans have told me that there has always been a list of public figures whom reporters were not allowed to go after, alongside an unspoken list of "enemies" whom everyone knew had to be "dealt with."

Plocker writes about investigative journalism and the free press, obviously referring to the ridiculous investigations into the unsavory past of the state's witness who testified against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Holyland corruption trial. Obviously that kind of investigative journalism was undertaken for the sake of truth, not for the sake of saving Olmert's behind. How many Yedioth reporters were able to look in the mirror on the day after Olmert's so-called acquittal, when every page of the newspaper that once ran the country was filled with nonsense aimed at masking Olmert's stench and diverting the public from the incriminating things that the court justices said about the former prime minister?

Last week, former Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz tried to point to damning statements contained in the "exonerating" verdict, but he was silenced at a conference sponsored by Yedioth's news website Ynet. Mazuz managed to get a few remarks in, but they never made it into the Olmert-friendly paper, other than a brief mention on Page 10 that said nothing. That is how it is when Noni Mozes is your friend.

And we haven't yet gotten to the real reasons for the grave journalistic crisis in this country: the alienation of most Israeli journalists, led by Yedioth Ahronoth, from the Israeli public; the attempt to impose views on the public; the contempt for the natives who don't buy into the Left's frightening peace scenario and refuse to yield to the Ministry of Truth lexicon used to coerce us into countless tragedies in the name of "peace" and "democracy" and "human rights"  empty terms that lost their meaning when applied to the speakers themselves.

Contrary to Plocker's assertions, Israel Hayom does not owe its success to the fact that it is distributed free of charge. That is only a bonus. Israel Hayom is successful because it provides the Israeli public, for the first time, with a Zionist, nationalistic, conservative and even religious viewpoint, which represents the same majority that has been thus far silenced and ridiculed by Yedioth and its satellites. The same thing would happen if a similar television channel were to enter the market. The public is tired of getting a daily dose of condescension from a group of know-it-all journalists whom no one elected, and who are mainly very much alike.

Who wants to read newspapers that sully this good country's name, paint the Israeli public in fascist colors, defame this country's pioneers and support foreign pressure on Israel's government? It seems that now that Yedioth has lost its power, it has opted for Samson's choice. (He chose to sacrifice himself to in order to kill the Philistines Judges 16.) They apparently said to themselves, "if we are no longer influencing the government and the public as we used to, may we die with the Philistines, or the Palestinians, or the Iranians. In short we're burning the house down."

And here is another contemptible Plocker argument: Israel Hayom is "foreign-owned." Let's see, is Israel Hayom owned by some Saudi tycoon who is pushing the Geneva initiative on Israel or confusing us into making peace with the Syrians (like Yedioth)? No, Plocker, by a Jew. A dear Jew who is doing more for Israel than you and Yedioth Ahronoth ever did. If Adelson had Israeli citizenship, would that appease you? "Foreign-owned" means "not one of us" in the lexicon of the white tribe. This argument coming from a man who came to Israel from communist Poland in the 1950s. That is precisely how the dissenters were excluded from the legitimate public.

And another pearl of wisdom: "In distributing his free newspaper Israel Hayom, Adelson is raising awareness of print journalism among populations that may have never actually held a newspaper before." This is an example of pure leftist condescension dear readers, did you hear? The paper you are holding is apparently the first newspaper you have ever held. At least you know how to read.

The Left has always made a point of beating its rivals' chests it is not us, it is them. It wasn't us who infused the Land of Israel west of the Jordan with terrorists, and armed them; it wasn't us who confused the collective awareness with dreams of a new Middle East and sacrifices of peace; it wasn't us who incited the public against the modern pioneers; it wasn't us who silenced anyone who dared speak out against the Oslo Accords or the disengagement plan; it wasn't us who handled former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with kid gloves and covered up his and his close associates' corruption (because he withdrew from Gaza); it isn't us who consistently trip up the elected government in the face of existential threats, even at the cost of jeopardizing our national home. Not us. It was aliens from outer space.

Plocker doesn't even have an iota of humor. He describes Yedioth Ahronoth with infinite seriousness as a "newspaper that will hold on to its Israeli identity and stay true to itself, that will cultivate a connection with the eyes, hearts and minds of the readers." That is exactly what Yedioth is good at, defining precisely who is "Israeli" while everyone else, meaning the majority of the Israeli public, is left out. Now do you understand why Yedioth is in decline?

Full disclosure: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson own a company that is the primary shareholder of Israel Hayom.

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