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.