Thursday November 27, 2014
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27.11.2014
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Dror Eydar

On celebrations and media coverage

1. I was hoping Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Sima Kadmon would go on a tirade against Shimon Peres' lavish birthday celebrations.

Surely, I thought, there would be some criticism over the embarrassing flattery. Perhaps a critical tweet; a bird's-eye view of the President's Residence; details on the Peres Academic Center; copies of the invoices showing the costs. But to no avail.

Yedioth Ahronoth, which used to have a country and now has Shimon Peres, picks and choose those who deserve criticism according to its own criteria. Peres' birthday is a case study that underscores the paper's outrageous conduct. As far as the paper is concerned, reporting improprieties cannot possibly outweigh its quest to settle old scores; its proteges must be protected, even if they are convicted criminals.

Do you recall how the media went into overdrive mode when the prime minister's plane was fitted with a bed? Do you remember all the half-truths that were reported and hypocrisy of the media's coverage? Thank goodness we have a president who can teach us a thing or two on journalistic etiquette and how not to provide excessive coverage.

2. The Left has all the intrigues of a Hassidic dynasty; it has a whole array of self-proclaimed heirs to the rebbe, in this case Shimon Peres. Former Meretz leader and cabinet minister Yossi Sarid (who is now a columnist in the daily Haaretz) is one of Peres' challengers. Sarid, a know-it-all, serves as a rebbe of a solemn and fiery community within the Left. "I am more righteous," Sarid cries out at every opportunity. "I should be the Left's rebbe; Hassids should give me notes with their prayers so that I could give them my blessings."

Sarid has established himself as Mr. Clean by sliming other people. He has done so for years, hoping such behavior would tarnish his opponents but keep him immune to criticism. Just browse the archives. He follows a particular template. In many cases he assumes the role of a perpetual antagonists as he levels his vile criticism on others. The subject of his criticism has to listen as Sarid lists his many faults, ridicules him and looks down on him. Then Sarid recounts how he behaved differently when faced with a similar situation himself. He may choose to change the order of things. This is new journalism indeed.

Our sages called this "profiting from the disparaging of others." In other words, this is a case in which one tramples others for the sake of personal gain.

Last week, Sarid confided with Haaretz readers that when he was education minister he was startled to find out that the state contributed 170 million shekels ($47.2 million ) to Charles R. Bronfman's Karev Program for Educational Involvement, while Bronfman himself had only chipped in 10 million shekels ($2.79 million). That's not nice. So Sarid summoned Bronfman and protested, albeit politely. An insulted Bronfman contacted then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who scolded Sarid. The latter defended himself, saying he was simply doing his job as education minister. So the moral of the story is that Sarid, unlike Peres, knows how to confront the rich and powerful, does not cozy up to them and does not seek personal contributions.

Is that really the case? Well, the story suggests that Sarid has effectively let this whole affair slide. Aside from his protestations, he changed nothing. Why has he not shared this story in the past? Investigative journalist Yoav Yitzhak makes a valid point: Bronfman was among Barak's biggest donors, and this was well known at the time. Sarid claims he was not aware of that at the time. What about Meretz's fundraising machine when Sarid was party leader? Well, the righteous Sarid had no problem presiding over that controversial apparatus.

3. And now, to a different president. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton's speech this week at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot, was very much like one of Peres' speeches; it was, on the face of it, a well-thought out speech. Foreign speakers and the Israeli Left always imbue their rhetoric with rationality. Our Talmudic sages, in a different context altogether, applied reason as well. They famously ruled that when two people claim ownership over a garment, they must share it.

The Left, in large part drawing on the vision of the Oslo Accords, has manufactured a big lie: The conflict with our neighbors is just like the garment parable. Not a week goes by without some peace sage depicting the conflict in these rationalized Talmudic terms. Some of them take it to an extreme and lay the blame squarely on Israel. "If only Israel made another gesture, our neighbors would be content," they often say.

But this is not the case. In July 2000, Barak put on the table unprecedented offers. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat turned them down. Clinton witnessed all that. In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went even further and was willing to make even more preposterous concessions. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not answer. In 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. Abbas and his comrades said nothing.

The truth of the matter is that this was never a "rational" conflict over territory. This is an existential struggle. It's us or them. The peace delusionists are blind to the facts. Why would they make an about-face if the world showers them with praise and treats them like royalty? Under the auspices of the Oslo Accords, the term "peace" has been devoid of its original meaning and has become an industry in which people promote themselves by disparaging others who are not willing to let Israel's fate hang in the balance.

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