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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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MKs and Ministers Trying to Kill the Free Press in Israel

One would think that politicians on the right would understand that allying themselves with those on the left to shut down a newspaper, even one they disagree with, is a bad thing.
Opponents of competition and free speech on the left and right are trying to destroy the popularity of the Yisrael Hayom newspaper.

Opponents of competition and free speech on the left and right are trying to destroy the popularity of the Yisrael Hayom newspaper.

Israeli Ministers and Knesset members are coming out against the free market of ideas, and the free market as well, by proposing a bill that would potentially kill the popular and free Israeli daily print paper, Yisrael Hayom.

The paper is given out free in Israel, and has become the primary competitor to Arnon “Nuni” Moses’s Yediot Achronot, which leans more to the political left, though not as far left as Ha’aretz, which only has a minuscule market share in Israel.

Among those MKs proposing the bill that would try to shut down the paper are MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Elazar Stern (Hatnua), Ariel Attias (Shas) and Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid).

Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said today on a Galei Tzahal interview, that Yisrael Hayom is “Pravda“, and serves the interest of one person [the Prime Minister].

It is not clear to us what is stopping Bennett from convincing one of his own supporters to print a daily paper that would be pro-Bennett, or even improving his relationship with the religious-Zionist paper Arutz-7, so they’d give him better coverage in their free weekend paper.

Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid chairman), whose party supports the bill, used to write a column for Yisrael Hayom’s main competitor, Yediot.

Yisrael Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, and typically takes a position that is pro whatever position PM Netanyahu recently put forward, though not always a right-wing position. It also publishes articles from those on the left side of the political spectrum. There is no denying that it is agenda driven, but name one newspaper that isn’t.

As an aside, Sheldon Adelson, may soon be purchasing the religious-Zionist paper Makor Rishon, after Makor Rishon over-extended itself financially with its purchase of Ma’ariv.

Some in the Likud say that Moses and Yediot are the driving force behind this bill.

The “Yisrael Hayom” law, as it is being called because it specifically only targets Yisrael Hayom, would require that the top four daily print papers charge fees relative to what the other daily print papers are charging – or more accurately no less than 70% of whatever the second lowest priced paper is charging.

To us, it looks like a blatant attempt to suppress the voices of political opponents and suppress freedom of speech and press in Israel.

Yediot has the same opportunity to build a different business model, take a different political line that is more palatable to most Israelis, or even accept that it won’t be number one in the market anymore.

The free Arutz-7 Shabbat print paper and the fee-based Makor Rishon have coexisted quite nicely for over a decade serving the Religious-Zionist market, each one with their own business model and message – proving that it can be done.

It appears that this is really an attempt to block the basic right for anyone to put down their soap box in the city square and freely express their opinion – if certain people are worried that that opinion is becoming too popular.

Eitan Cabel (Labor), one of the proponents of the bill, played a central role in shutting down the very popular right-wing religious Arutz-7 radio station.

Naftalki Bennett and Bayit Yehudi should really consider who its allies are in this fight and what it could mean for them next.

It appears that in Israel, those on the political left can’t stand that those on the political right have a voice that is heard, and those on the right are too short-sighted to see that suppressing both the free market and the free market of ideas is dangerous for all of us, and that is the real problem.

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11 Responses to “MKs and Ministers Trying to Kill the Free Press in Israel”

  1. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Let the market decide! Leave the paper alone!

  2. Rikard Baric says:

    Speaking technically – the more policy focuses on stability between left and rights, the higher risk for society. The risk in over-regulating balance is that it brings non-controlable surgings where free press makes the situation worse.
    The missing action is moving, not only balancing, society. The purpose of free press is to bring and to express this propulsion.

  3. …how can you kill something that is already dead…

  4. Anonymous says:

    If the left is so afraid of "Israel Hayom" I am sure they can find tons of lefties who are willing the finance their own newspaper. Shame on them.

  5. The attempts to eliminate the message by killing the messenger will fail. At least 70% of the Jews in Israel know that the Arabs still act in bad faith and truly want to kill us all.

  6. It seems the totalitarians are 'forever' with us and will always try to shut up anyone who does not agree with them. Look at B. Hussein Obama's administration…continual harassing of Fox News and its reporters, as well as Rush Limbaugh…and Glenn Beck, etc….and remember James Rosen…..and handpicked members of BHO's own gov. openly declaring that the conservative Tea Party is "DANGEROUS". To what? Their liberal take-over plans, of course! As it stands, the political correctness gurus have outlawed much free speech already. Welcome to our 'brave new world'!

  7. Uzi Kattan says:

    Isn't leftist tolerance great?
    The progressive leftists know that people don't trust the leftist 'news' outlets and will try to suppress them. If their 'news' outlets were honest they would make money but printed news is becoming obsolete.

  8. Time for Israel to shut down Ha aretz. This is the most damaging newspaper and is causing Israels trouble esp. one of their reporters who must be getting well paid by the Arabs.

  9. Ltc Howard says:

    Possibly Israel should make group libels accountable by allowing individual legal actions brought against the accusers by members of the "accused" groups. For example both Breaking the Silence and B'tselem falsely claimed that the IDF used white phosphorus against civilians in Gaza and that an Israeli sniper had murdered a Palestinian woman. Haaretz trumpeted these false accusations for worldwide audiences .Every IDF participant in these actions was falsely defamed.

    Haaretz, Breaking the Silence, B'tselem, etc routinely issue false accusations against the IDF, and“the settlers”, and other groups that they disagree and should be accountable in individual legal actions brought against them by members of these groups

  10. Marianne Rönnberg Galmor says:

    "suppressing both the free market and the free market of ideas is dangerous for all of us, and that is the real problem."

  11. Miki Bacsi says:

    I find interesting that only bolshies (commies, socialists, nazis, anarchists and islamofascists) try to shut down the voice that does not agree with their pathological ideas. I wonder what could be the reason.

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