ספט 29 2016
Little piece of heaven on earth– M.K Dr Nachman Shai
ספט 29 2016
ספט 22 2016
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is stifling free speech by weakening Israel’s commercial and public broadcasters.
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu has spent hours upon hours holding off-the-record meetings with the Israeli media in recent weeks. With the exception of cabinet meetings, I don’t believe there is another subject that the prime minister has invested so much time and effort in over the same period. There is, however, no cause for surprise; for Netanyahu, the media has become the message.
When Netanyahu put together his most recent government, he saved for himself the communications portfolio. At first, the move seemed devoid of any logic. It was one thing to act temporarily as foreign minister until new coalition partners could be found, but the Communications Ministry has never been on the list of desirable portfolios for a prime minister. All of Netanyahu’s predecessors have held additional portfolios, but for the most part they would take the defense and foreign ministries.
In the early 1980s, I served as spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Washington together with Netanyahu who was a diplomatic attaché. We had many conversations about the media and in particular the Israeli media. Netanyahu, then in his early thirties, was hungry for power, influence and fame.
He enjoyed the patronage of the ambassador at the time, Moshe Arens, who told me that one day Netanyahu would become prime minister. In our conversations Netanyahu presented a liberal, pluralistic worldview, saying, “There is room for a plethora of media, and competition between them should be encouraged.”
Thanks to his polished English, his broad knowledge and people skills, Netanyahu very soon made himself the go-to guy for senior journalists, commentators and analysts. Later, as ambassador to the UN, Netanyahu would become a star, a frequent guest on TV who worked his charm on the New York media and elites.
The Israeli media was slow to pick up on Netanyahu’s potential – and the danger inherent in him – but he gradually became a prominent figure both in the US and in Israel.
His relationship with the Israeli media began to develop when he was surprisingly voted head of the Likud and then prime minister.
But since then, his relationship with the media has soured. After countless personal affairs, the media no longer cuts him any slack and he, for his part, has become hostile toward it. In Netanyahu’s perception, his electoral victories have come against the media’s will and he has tapped into a longstanding belief in the Likud that “the media is against us.” This belief has remained unchanged since the Likud first came to power in 1977 until today, despite the fact that it has been the ruling party for the majority of that time. The view has taken root in Likud that the media is leftwing, hostile and serves Netanyahu’s political opponents.
Netanyahu’s feeling of being ostracized led to the launch of a daily paper, the freebie, Israel Hayom, backed by his friend Sheldon Adelson. Israel Hayom became a huge success, passing Yedioth Ahronoth as the widest circulation daily in the country.
It also led to a dramatic decline in the price of advertising, dealing a harsh blow to the media market and in particular to Yedioth, an important political player.
Netanyahu was in fact likely motivated to hold on to the communications portfolio by proposed legislation to ban the distribution of free newspapers – known as the Israel Hayom Bill – that passed an early hurdle in the Knesset in 2014 but never progressed.
He didn’t want any more surprises.
ON THE eve of the last elections in March 2015, the rivalry between Netanyahu and the media reached its peak. The prime minister felt that he was about to lose power among other things because of the media’s hostile coverage of him. Three days before the elections he launched a communications blitz, recruiting the ostensibly hostile media, turned the tables and won the elections.
But Netanyahu didn’t forget. After the elections he set about a major reform of the communications market and he now pulls the strings on both public and private broadcasts.
There is no media outlet in Israel that escapes his influence.
Together with Gilad Erdan, the public security minister, Netanyahu decided to disband the Israel Broadcasting Authority and replace it with the new Israeli Broadcasting Corporation. The truth is that the IBA suffers from mismanagement and corruption, but it is also on the whole a courageous media outlet, and courage and journalistic dedication are not what the prime minister wants.
The new broadcasting corporation got underway with severe birth pangs, but it transpired that the change was not revolutionary.
Netanyahu saw that it was going to be more of the same, came down with a case of buyer’s remorse and tried to backtrack.
He didn’t succeed. The managers of the new corporation made it clear they were already in mid-process, while public opinion was incensed, the Knesset was up in arms, and the Finance Minister said he wouldn’t pay out hundreds of millions of shekels to keep two parallel public broadcasters up and running.
Netanyahu turned his attention to commercial television. Channel 2 is much stronger than its younger rival Channel 10, but a government-sponsored bill would require the News Corporation, which produces the highly watched Channel 2 news broadcasts, to be sold to one of the channel’s two franchisees, Keshet and Reshet. With three commercial channels and three news corporations, ratings will be much lower.
In order to pull regulatory strings, the prime minister merged the Second Authority for Television and Radio with the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting as a branch in the Communications Ministry. The upshot is that we no longer have a public authority with financial and executional independence.
The communication minister will from now on be able to control the merged entity via a public board of directors that he will appoint. This is no less than a nationalization of regulation of commercial television and radio, and the dream of setting up an Israeli equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission that could even replace the Communications Ministry itself has been buried.
But the crusade goes on. Educational TV – which at the moment remains under the auspices of the Education Ministry – is likely to be swallowed up by the new Broadcasting Corporation when it finally comes on air in 2018. The prime minister has also expressed negative opinions of the highly popular Army Radio channels, but for the moment they remain under the authority of the Defense Ministry. People close to the prime minister, such as Culture Minister Miri Regev, have said explicitly that military stations have no place in a democratic society. No word was heard in response from Netanyahu.
THE PRIME minister studiously avoids being interviewed. He is acutely aware of every word that is said or written about him and responds at lightning speed. In order to circumvent traditional media, he is active on social media, where he can write whatever he pleases. Despite the fact that he does not give interviews to the Israeli media he finds ways to get his positions across. Recently, after signing a new military aid agreement with the US, he deftly used his ministers, MKs and senior officials in a well-orchestrated chorus to fend off criticism. This proves that Netanyahu has not lost hope and understands that without the media he is left exposed and defenseless. But more than that, it is a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” He is determined to change the fundamentals of the Israeli media in order to finally gain its sympathy.
In that way, he differs from the diplomatic attaché at the Israeli embassy in Washington 35 years ago. He no longer believes that the existing Israeli media landscape loves him, so he simply wants to replace it.
Netanyahu’s new communications policy is the prime challenge facing Israeli democracy.
Without freedom of speech there is no media and without the media there is no democracy.
While social media provides a platform and means of expression for each and every individual and the public arena has never been so open, its influence is limited. Netanyahu continues to preach for media pluralism, but in actuality the result is inverse.
Instead of removing regulatory obstacles, new ones are being added. The media, even under economic and regulatory siege, refuses to surrender and continues to maintain its independence.
Is this on account of the Jewish tradition of free speech and intellectual independence? Or is it the rebellious Israeli character? Probably a bit of both. Israelis must stand up and be counted. We need a vibrant, confident media that has teeth. Israel’s image as a democratic Jewish state is being tested. The prime minister’s strategy must be rejected. A plethora of portfolios is one thing, but stifling free speech is another.
This is our moment of truth. We are all called to rally round the flag!
Nachman Shai is an MK for the Zionist Union party. He is a former IDF spokesman and has a PhD in political science and communications
מרץ 29 2016
בתוך 48 שעות, שתי יממות, קיבל מהפך התדמיות בינינו לבין הפלסטינים הוכחה כפולה; כבר לא דוד קטן, מתוחכם, ו"בתחבולות תעשה לך", אלא גוליית, כבד, מגושם, אולי מותש. זהו הקשר הפנימי, המתחייב, בין מעצרו והעמדתו לדין של מג"ד עווידה, מהנדס מחשבים בן 23 מעזה, לבין הירי בחברון של חייל צה"ל על מחבל פצוע שהיה מוטל בזירת הפיגוע.
עווידה מואשם עתה בבית-המשפט המחוזי בבאר-שבע, כי הצליח לחדור למערכת המזל"טים של צה"ל, המקיימת תצפיות קבע מעל רצועת עזה. צריך לקרוא פעמיים כדי להאמין. זאת לא איראן וגם לא מעצמות גדולות שגולשות באזורנו. בחור צעיר, שעיקר עיסוקו היה בכלל מועדון לאיתור כישרונות מוזיקליים ברצועה, מתגלה ככישרון אחר לגמרי. שועל סייבר שחודר לתשדורות מוצפנות של צה"ל, ומספק למפעיליו מידע על מה שמעניין את צה"ל, והיכן משייטים המזל"טים שלו. ובין היתר, הוא גם מכין תוכנות למעקב אחר מצלמות-כבישים בישראל, כדי לדעת בעיתות חירום, מה הפגיעה בהם, וכיצד ניתן לשבשה ואולי עוד.
ואת כל זה הפלסטיני מעזה עושה מול מערך של אחת המדינות המתקדמות בעולם בתחום זה. כי ישראל נחשבת ל"מעצמת סייבר". כמעט 20 שנה, אומר אתר מטה הסייבר, ישראל נערכת בתחום זה. מן הראשונות בעולם. לפני ארבע שנים הושק מטה הסייבר הלאומי, בשנה שעברה, התקבלו בזו אחר זו שתי החלטות רבות משמעות: בפברואר אשתקד הממשלה מחליטה על הקמת רשות סייבר לאומית; וביוני הרמטכ"ל מודיע על הקמת זרוע סייבר בצה"ל.
בין לבין מפתחת המדינה תשתיות טכנולוגיות לאומיות, משיקה תוכניות לעידוד מחקר-ופיתוח לתעשייה, מפעילה את "מגשימים לאומית", הכשרת צעירים בפריפריה למקצוע הסייבר. היקף ההשקעה הכספית בפעילויות אלה מעולם לא פורסם, אבל הוא מוערך במאות-מליוני שקלים לפחות.
ישראל פעילה בהגנה ובהתקפה. על-פי מקורות זרים, ישראל הפעילה אפילו התקפות סייבר, כמו משלוח של "תולעי סייבר" לתוך הסבסבות האיראניות כדי לשבש את פעילותן, ואולי היו עוד.
והנה מתחת לאף שלנו, בלי אמצעים, בלי תשתית, בהשקעה פעוטה, אבל עם הרבה יצירתיות, החמאס מלמד אותנו, שוב, מהי מלחמה א-סימטרית, כיצד עם לא כלום אפשר לנסות ולגרד את השכן העשיר רב-העוצמה ממזרח. זה לא ניצחון ולא תבוסה, אבל זאת הוכחה כי גם לגדולים יש נקודות-תורפה, והאויב ממול, כפי שכבר הוכח, מיטיב לאתר אותם, כפי שהוא עשה ב"צוק איתן".
ומכאן לפרשת החייל היורה – האירוע בחברון, שנחקר כרגע, שבו חייל יורה במחבל שרוע למרגלותיו, משלים את המהפך התדמיתי. אנחנו טענו תמיד, כי הננו דוד המקראי. קטנים אמנם, ואמצעינו דלים, אך נחושים, יצירתיים, נועזים. מכאן גם זכינו בנקודות זכות בקהילה הבינלאומית, מיום הקמת המדינה ואילך. בצדק נשענו על עוצמתנו המוסרית, על צדקתנו, על ערכינו, על ה"מעטים מול רבים".
כעת בא האירוע הזה ולימד על הכשל שנכשלנו בו. מולנו ניצבים הפלסטינים והם בלבד, כבר לא עולם ערבי גדול. הם מציגים טרור של בודדים, ללא תשתיות וארגון, ללא פיקוד והנחיות. הם קמים ויורים, דוקרים, ודורסים. זה חמור, זה רע, וישראל משיבה ובצדק. אבל צריך להודות, כי שוב איננו מקבלים על כך אשראי. אמנם ראש-הממשלה מנסה להכניס אותנו מתחת לשמיכת הטרור שמכסה עתה את אירופה, ולהטיל גזירה שווה, בין הפלסטינים למפלצת הטרור הדאע"שי, אך לפלסטינים יש מלחמה אחרת, וכך היא נתפסת בעולם.
מי כמונו זוכר את תבוסת גוליית, שהרי היה לו רק כוח פיזי, ולכן הובס בידי קלע דוד. לא את כוחנו הפיזי עלינו לחדש עתה, הוא קיים, אלא את עוצמתנו המוסרית.
מרץ 13 2016
Groping in the dark – M.K. Dr. Machman Shai
Here in Israel, we were surprised twice this past week. Lately, in the past few weeks, there has been a slow but steady decline in the number of terrorist attacks. It seemed as if the wave was dying down, especially for those of us who believed that this was just a wave. But the relative quiet was broken this week, and we must finally admit that we are in the midst of a full-fledged intifada. According to our minister of transportation, it’s an “ISIS intifada.” So now we even have a new name.
The second surprise was the large scope of this wave of terrorism, which has hit us on both sides of the Green Line and has already taken a relatively large number of casualties. It’s happening once again.
But this is not just a matter of semantics. The government just hasn’t found a solution to this new form of terrorism. This is the sad truth. If we closely analyze the attacks of the third intifada, we will see that it’s different from its predecessors. The first intifada was an uprising of the people and the level of violence was very low. The second intifada was especially cruel and took the lives of thousands of innocent people. It also forced Israel to return to take control over parts of Judea and Samaria, which went against the Oslo Accords.
The current intifada is based on a long string of small, primitive attacks: knifings, car-rammings, and here and there an occasional use of firearms. This is producing far fewer casualties than the previous intifadas, but Israel is having an even harder time preventing these low-intensity attacks. Ostensibly, even though these attacks result in fewer and lighter casual – ties, the effect has been greater.
Why is this, you might wonder? Because of social networking. This intifada is a social networking nightmare. The attackers are taking advantage of our highly developed connectedness. The major terrorist organizations, including ISIS, have adapted themselves incredibly quickly to this new reality.
We are all familiar with this phenomenon. Tom Friedman created the most brilliant definition that he used in his award-winning book, The World is Flat . Of course, even though everyone might agree that physically the world is round, our lives have been completely flattened out, and the social networks have covered every square inch of it multiple times. Without noticing it, we have all joined one social network or another. We are all active participants in this new world order, whether we want to be or not. These networks have changed our world from the bottom up and the current globalization relies upon and even feeds off of them.
The IDF came out of the second intifada victorious. Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 shocked the Palestinians and hit their terrorist infrastructure hard, but it took another four full years until we had successfully eradicated the terrorist cells, arrested its leaders, located the weapon caches and deterred a new generation of terrorists.
But the seeds of the next generation of terrorists germinated during these years, and in the absence of leadership, and with a network connecting the various terrorist cells, this terrorism infiltrated the public arena and the social networks. The teen – age girls and boys who’ve recently taken to the street with knives and scissors, and the women and men who’ve used their cars as weapons, didn’t know one another personally, and are not coordinating their attacks, but they are bolstering one another through their connection on social net – works.
The IDF, the Shin Bet, the Border Police and the Israel Police are all helpless. They are groping in the dark. Upping our deployments has not been helpful. Exist – ing methods for prevention are no longer effective. They are seeking out the terrorists, but they cannot seem to locate them. The security personnel are all just as professional, determined and skilled as ever – in fact, they are among the best in the world – but they are groping in the dark.
And worse yet, all of these allegations that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for inciting these terrorist attacks, though some of them are legitimate, cannot be properly addressed. Even if we were able to close down the traditional media – i.e. radio and television – there still wouldn’t be a way to prevent people from expressing themselves on social networks. All of our attempts to control them have failed. We’ve reached out to Google and Facebook, but these companies do not work for the government and they are not willing to restrict their networks just because terrorist organizations are abusing them.
And they’ve taken it a step further: Terrorism is no longer on its own. After the traditional media have dealt with it so superficially on all the global TV networks (this is how it attracts young people), it’s now being used to fuel an international campaign against Israel. This is an integrated campaign that combines political, economic, legal and academic aspects, as well as public relations. It’s also built on global networks and fuels itself through physical violence. Instead of showing ostentatious explosions, they show the limited knife attacks and car-ramming on a grand scale in order to fuel the flames.
Israel did not identify in time the connection between these new circles and their new angle. Israel has directed all of its efforts and resources toward preventing and containing the terrorism, and has unfortunately been ignoring the war for international public opinion, which we are losing badly. Everything has gotten pretty out of control. The Israeli leadership must completely rethink its strategy in its war on terror.
As of now, we are not capable of putting out these virtual fires.
Although it is not a simple task, the government must find a way to initiate measures with which to counter terrorism on social networks. It looks like Israel will once again be the pioneer in fighting this new form of terrorism, just as we have been in the past.
We must carry out targeted actions that deter the young people among our enemies, and prove to them that they are losing the war. We have a lot of work ahead of us in the battle for the hearts. We are embarking on a new chapter.
The writer is a member of Knesset from the Zionist Union, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and has a doctorate in political science and communications.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.