Photo Credit: Oren ben Hakoon/Flash90
Israeli Premier League match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem, November 8, 2022.

Makor Rishon journalist Gideon Dokov appeared on the immensely popular show “On the Other Hand,” which is dedicated to exposing gaps between statements and reality in Israeli society. Hosted since 2019 by Guy Zohar, one of Israel’s few trusted (and cute) media people, the 12-minute show, on weekdays, is an equal opportunity slammer for the most part.

On Wednesday this week, Dokov presented a breathtaking example of the lengths to which Israeli media would go to smear a political opponent, specifically Bezalel Smotrich, using outright lies that are easily confirmed as lies. One must wonder how they dare look at their reflection in the mirror in the morning.

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Here’s the Dokov presentation, with my translation below. The subject of the attack on Smotrich was the polite letter he wrote regarding the possibility of taking into account religious soccer fans who would also like to watch the soccer games that have been moved to earlier on Saturdays, despite how early Shabbat currently ends at the moment.

Despite everyone being able to read the actual letter for themselves (if they bothered), the media presented his letter as a declaration of war against soccer games on Shabbat.

Zohar: Hi, Gideon.

Dokov: Hi, Guy. Tell me, you like soccer, right?

Zohar: I like… like everyone, no?

Dokov: So, just like you, there’s a considerable religious and traditional public that loves soccer, and was hoping that with the move to the winter clock, when Shabbat is out earlier, they could enjoy the opportunity to go and watch it in the stadiums. But unfortunately, the soccer leagues’ management thought differently and decided now, of all times, to run some soccer games earlier in the afternoon, deep in Shabbat time. Following that decision, they were approached by Religious Zionism Chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich.

Channel 13 news host: Bezalel Smotrich is launching today another front and declaring war on Shabbat soccer. In a letter he sent the league management today he demands moving the games to weekdays, and the angry responses came, predictably.

Kan 11 news host: Smotrich launches an additional front, soccer games on Shabbat, says they are “an un-Jewish and undemocratic act.”

Dokov: Declares war? Demands to move the games to weekdays? Smotrich did all that?

Channel 12 news host: Moving on, you mentioned Smotrich, more statements, about one provocative headline per day, now he writes a letter to the chairman of the league management Eretz Khalfon and demands to stop at once the Shabbat soccer games.

Dokov: Wait, wait, wait, before we jump with “one provocative headline per day,” Smotrich never called for canceling at once Shabbat soccer games. Let’s go back for a minute to the letter Smotrich sent. What is he actually calling for? Here’s the letter: “We are at a time when calls to cooperation, communication, and mutual respect are saturating the media, let’s get together and create a path … I have no doubt that with goodwill we can find an excellent path to promote the entirety of interests of all the wishes and the audiences regarding soccer.” Communication, mutual respect, and a path that would answer all the wishes. It’s good and respectable, isn’t it?

Channel 12 news reporter: Smotrich’s initiative to cancel soccer on Shabbat is raising, as expected, many storms, veteran soccer broadcaster Yoram Arbel is with us. Shalom.

Arbel: Shalom Amalya.

Dokov: “Raising, as expected, many storms.” Why as expected? The call for communication is raising conflicts? Am I the only one who read something different in the letter? Because this is what Channel 13 News quoted for us.

Channel 13 reporter: “The traditional public constitutes about one-half of Israeli citizens, making this the biggest serial segregation in the country,” Smotrich wrote the league management. “I view severely ignoring and disregarding such a large public.”

Dokov: OK, so factually, this segregation indeed takes place, and Smotrich, as I said, offered a solution, but through means of communication. The only thing he’s saying is that “on Shabbat days when the winter clock is in effect, for more than half the season, it’s possible and desirable to schedule games as early as possible (immediately after Shabbat is out – DI).” Possible and desirable. Not an obligation, not a prohibition, not even year-round.

Channel 12 reporter: That’s precisely the point, had Bezalel Smotrich not done this confrontationally but would have instead approached, saying, “Guys, listen, there are religious viewers, there are religious players, the central game (broadcast live on TV), for instance, if because of the clock it can be changed by one or two hours, and schedule it at a time when religious viewers, too, could watch it, why not?”

Dokov: But that’s exactly what he did. I feel, Guy, that since the right’s election victory, elements in the media are trying to create a demon, turn Smotrich, and maybe the entire right, into a predatory monster that’s going to turn Israel into Iran. The kind of media that take a letter that’s all about a call for communication and goodwill, and enlist it in a war of their own invention.

Nuf said.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.