Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Netanyahu and his Wife Want Total Control of
Israeli Media, they Don't Like Criticism
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 26, 2017
The National Israeli Riddle
the difference between a "corporation" and an "authority?
don't know? Join the 8.5 million Israelis who don't know either.
It's a national riddle. The whole country is absorbed by it. The Prime
Minister announces that he will "go to the very end" to achieve his end.
Which end? I don't know. I am not sure that he knows. Nobody I know
The Prime Minister threatens the worst. If he does not
get his way whatever it is he will do something absolutely awful:
announce new elections. Let the people decide whether they want the
authority or the corporation. Whatever they are.
WHAT IS it all
about? One thing is certain: it concerns the public media.
Binyamin Netanyahu wants to have them under his control.
Completely. Totally. Radio. Television. The social media. The lot.
Seems it is not so easy to get a firm grip on them.
before there was Israel and long before there was television, the
British Government of Palestine founded the Voice of Jerusalem, a radio
station that provided us with the news throughout World War II. When the
State of Israel came into being, this radio station changed into the
Voice of Israel. The Broadcasting Authority remained. Formally it
belongs to the government, but it enjoys considerable autonomy.
Then TV came along, and now there are several networks, one of them a
public one. It belongs to the same authority.
is very sensitive. He does not like criticism. Neither does his wife,
Sarah'le. The Royal couple wondered how to silence the
impertinent voices and hit upon a remedy: abolish the authority and
create a corporation. By this simple stratagem, they could get rid of
all the old hands (and mouths) they detest.
So it was decided,
laws were enacted, a budget was adopted, new personnel were hired.
BUT THEN Netanyahu or his wife woke up one night and asked: Hey,
what are we doing?
Who will tell all these good corporation
people what to broadcast and what not?
The new corporation was
modeled on the much admired BBC the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The BBC enjoys a lot of independence. Do we really want a corporation
that ignores the wishes of the Prime Minister? Worse, the wishes of his
Of course not. Stop everything!
So here we are
today. The old authority has not yet been disbanded, its bloated
personnel not yet dismissed. Its various TV and radio stations broadcast
every day around the clock. And there is the new broadcasting
corporation, full of new employees, slated to go on the air on April 30,
just a month and five days away.
Who will be broadcasting on May
1? The authority? The corporation? Both? Neither? Only the Almighty
knows. Perhaps not even He.
Who is Netanyahu's adversary in this
fight? A quite unlikely enemy: Moshe Kahlon, the Minister of Finance. A
mild, unassuming type, with a permanent smile, a former Likud member.
The Almighty the same has turned this pussycat into a lion. Miracles
I happened this week to visit a radio studio.
Broadcasting people all around me. I asked them, one by one, what the
fight was about. They tried their best to explain it to me. In the end,
I still had no idea, and I had the strong impression that they didnt
THIS WEEK Netanyahu paid a state visit to China, to get
away as far as possible. Between these two world powers China and
Israel, the elephant and the mouse there are good relations.
The Prime Minister was shown around. He was taken to the Great Wall.
Photos showed him surrounded by dark-suited men and one red-clad woman,
his wife. He was just making a phone call, ignoring the unique
To whom? Those damn journalists soon found out: the
Prime Minister was talking to his underlings in far-away Israel about
dissolving the fledgling corporation and strengthening the old
authority. His Minister of Finance announced that if that happens, he
will bring the government crashing down, making new elections
unavoidable if Netanyahu wants to stay in power,
Kahlon and his Kulanu party, Netanyahu and his ultra-right coalition
have no majority. The opposition, together with Kahlon, will constitute
a new majority. In theory it could set up a new government. No need for
elections. Simple arithmetic.
true. But arithmetic is not
politics.Such a new coalition wouldhave to include the Arab party, and
that is too much both for Lapid and Herzog.
whole ridiculous affair, the voice of the opposition was not heard at
all. As if the Almighty still the same - had struck them dumb. As if
Yair Lapid, generally a prolific talker, who may lead the largest party
in the Knesset after the next elections, was suddenly searching for
words. Poor man.
Not quite as poor as Yitzhak Herzog, the leader
of the Zionist Camp, a.k.a. the Labor Party. Not a word. Nothing to say
incredible as this may sound for a politician.
sudden silence? Simple: on both sides of the conflict there are
journalists. And what politician wants to quarrel with journalists? Who
would dare, apart from Binyamin Netanyahu?
WHAT DOES he want?
What is the purpose of this entire ruckus?
That is one riddle
which is easy to answer: Netanyahu wants sole, direct control of all
Israeli media. He wants to be able to tell every single broadcaster what
to say and what not to say.
After the last election, he retained
in his own hands not only the offices of Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister, but also the Communication Ministry, quite a junior office
except that it controls all government subsidies for the media. For some
technical reason, the Supreme Court compelled him to give up this
position and turn it over to one of his yes-men.
Control of all
the media is the dream of every democratic ruler. (Dictators don't dream
about it, they have it.) Netanyahu already has absolute control over
Israel's largest daily newspaper a paper distributed for free. This is
a gift from one of his most ardent admirers the US Casino Mogul
Sheldon Adelson. (I have invented the Hebrew term for such a give-away
something like "gratisette".)
The owner of a real daily paper
of almost equal size was overheard offering Netanyahu preferential
treatment in return for cutting back the circulation of this private
WHY THE hell does Netanyahu need all these machinations?
His power is based on solid foundations. He has already
realized a politician's dream: He has no successor. All possible heirs
have been eliminated long ago. Ask any of his detesters whom they see as
a possible replacement, and they will fall silent.
myself included believe that Netanyahu is leading the state towards
an existential disaster. The man has no world view, except the
nationalistic fanaticism of his late father, a historian of the Spanish
inquisition. As an intellectual, he is a zero.
But he is a
talented political practitioner, an expert in day-to-day political
machinations, including relations with foreign powers. There seems to be
no other practitioner around who could fill his place.
the time being, we are stuck with him, his authority and/or his
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