Commentary Magazine


Israel and the Media

To the Editor:

Joshua Muravchik’s essay on Haaretz reminded me of a political panel I attended at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center some years ago [“Trashing Israel Daily,” June]. The event was chaired by Prof. Ehud Sprinzak, who introduced Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy by saying that while he might not have always wanted to, he just “couldn’t not read [Levy] regularly.” Though I identify as a member of Israel’s political left (and am a member of Meretz), I can’t always bring myself to read Levy’s columns because his descriptions of the misery of the lives of many Palestinians and Israeli Arabs upset me too much. Many, if not most, Israelis oppose the occupation and are ashamed of the deeds perpetrated in our name.

I know these things not only from reading about them, but from hearing firsthand from my son and his friends, all of them far from “bleeding hearts” like me, about things they were compelled to do during their army service. Are they anti-Israel? Are they Israel-trashers? They serve in the IDF reserves, pay their taxes, resist the temptation to leave the country for greener pastures, and still hope for a better, more just future for Israelis (Arabs and Jews)—and Palestinians, too. Does Mr. Muravchik exclude the possibility that those who report uncomfortable truths are driven to do so not by a sense of obligation, loyalty, and responsibility? Is it not a service they are performing?

Zelda Rosenberg Katz
Herzliya, Israel

To the Editor:

Joshua Muravchik’s article on Haaretz is excellent. But there are two areas of daily news coverage in which Haaretz excels and is far ahead of all other daily newspapers in Israel, irrespective of language.

Haaretz’s coverage of internal Israeli politics is still way ahead of the competition. Its coverage is in-depth, and as long as one is able to discern the facts from the often one-sided political goop, it does provide the reader with good information.

The second area is Haaretz’s coverage of military affairs by Aluf Benn and Amos Harel. They are truly unique and unparalleled in any other Israeli or foreign newspaper.

It is certainly distressing to read any of the above articles and then to follow on with the junk purveyed as journalism by Amira Hass and Gideon Levy. The weekend magazine section could just as well be relabeled the Ramallah Times. Overall, however, Mr. Muravchik’s analysis is welcome reading. Unfortunately, most foreign correspondents here are unable to read Hebrew, and so report “directly” from the so-called liberal Haaretz English edition to their European and American editors. Perhaps Mr. Muravchik can suggest how this seemingly automatic nexus can be broken.

Allan Leibler
Jerusalem, Israel

To the Editor:

The influence of Haaretz, while negative, does not extend much beyond media and academe. The Jerusalem Post’s website is the No. 1 website on Israel, and Jewish topics, for the English speaking world. That of Israel Hayom, moreover, is growing. So is it worth hyping the importance of a declining institution like Haaretz, as Joshua Muravchik did in his article? Maybe we should focus on success stories, too, such as the Jerusalem Post’s, and the gains of CAMERA and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

Doron Lubinsky
Atlanta, Georgia

Joshua Muravchik writes:

I salute the son of Zelda Rosenberg Katz and his comrades. Yes, of course Palestinians suffer in the war they have created, and yes, of course Israeli soldiers, like those of every other army defending its country, must do some nasty things. I did not criticize Levy and his colleagues for reporting “uncomfortable truths” but rather for reporting uncomfortable untruths—which I documented. Does Ms. Katz believe that being on what she views as the side of virtue entitles them to do this?

Thanks to Allan Leibler for his kind words. Haaretz’s influence need not “extend much beyond media and academe,” as Doron Lubinsky puts it, to be immensely important. That means influence with a megaphone aimed at international opinion. (To his list of alternative sources, I would add the Times of Israel, an outstanding news site.)




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