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Yet another nail was banged last week into the coffin of Israeli democracy. Last week the
McCarthyist Left in Israel succeeded at long last in shutting down Arutz-7, the main voice of
non-leftist dissidence in Israel. This under a government headed by Ariel Sharon.
Israel’s Hebrew-language media are the occupied territories of Israel’s Far Left. Haaretz is
considerably less pluralistic than was Pravda in the days of Gorbachev and is increasingly
advocating One-Statism, or the Rwanda Solution to Israel’s existence, where Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state. Yediot Aharanot is just slightly less extremist than Haaretz and its Op-Ed pages have been dubbed by some wags “Fatahland.” Maariv is the most balanced of the Hebrew papers, although it also is more leftist than not.
The Jerusalem Post is balanced but has a tiny market share, read only by those whose primary language is English and whose lack of proficiency in Hebrew prevents them from reading the Hebrew press.
Israel’s three TV stations compete against one another over who can be the most extremist
and leftist, who the most biased. They are considerably less pro-Israel than the BBC and CNN. Most radio stations are still state-run and — by definition — that makes them leftist. The Likud has never challenged the hegemony of the Left over the state-owned electronic media when it has held office.
That leaves the “pirate stations.” Israel has a long history of “pirate” radio stations. These are broadcasters who operate transmitters technically outside the legal jurisdiction of Israel, at
sea on ships or just illegally from someone’s attic. Pirate radio exists largely because the
government has refused to sell broadcast licenses to private-sector groups.
The first pirate ship was that of leftist wacko Abie Nathan, who used it to broadcast obnoxious rock and roll noise mixed in with political caterwauling from the far Left. He was
allowed to broadcast unfettered for decades, starting in the early 1970’s, by governments of both Labor and Likud. He eventually went bankrupt and celebrated the shutting down of his “Peace Boat” by scuttling it smack in the center of Israel’s shipping lanes.
But sauce for the goose in Israel has never been sauce for the lemmings. When the Right
set up its own pirate radio station on a ship outside the territorial waters of Zion, the McCarthyist Left launched a jihad that from its first day was designed to shut it down. But despite the repeated legal and legislative attempts to silence it, Arutz-7 managed to struggle on — until last week.
A handful of other pirate stations, many with Orthodox religious orientation, have also
broadcast on and off. Unlike the United States, the Israeli government has never looked kindly on religious radio stations having a right to part of the airwaves.
Arutz-7 was a breath of fresh air in Israel’s near-totalitarian world of leftist media hegemony. It proved itself absolutely correct in its denunciation of the Oslo Accords, and in fact was the only media outfit in Israel that dared oppose the policies of Rabin and Peres.
The Left denounced Arutz-7 as ‘inciters’ — McCarthyist terminology for people who disagree with the Left — and the leftists made no secret of their belief that Arutz-7 was directly
responsible for Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.
The Left had been filing petition after petition to shut Arutz-7 down. The same Labor Party that defended Abie Nathan’s ship to its last decibel led the jihad against Arutz-7. It was
joined by a host of leftists who have served as attorney general. Incredibly, some of the worst
assaults against Arutz-7 were carried out when the Likud was in office, since the Likud always
seeks to be the ‘me-too’ party and to out-Labor the Laborites.
Five years ago a leftist lawyer filed a suit to shut down Arutz-7 and indict its owners/ managers. It took five years for the court to find for the plaintiff and restore leftist hegemony over Israel’s media.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book ‘The Scout’ is available at
Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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