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Israel is trying to hide its arms sales to Duterte's Philippines

Israel continues to sell arms to the world’s most oppressive regimes, but the courts won’t let the media cover the story.

By Itamar Baz

An Israeli court imposed a media blackout on hearings held in September regarding a state sale of weapons to the Philippine regime. The petitioners to halt the sale argued that Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president, was credibly accused of having committed mass atrocities, as well as grave violations of human rights and of international law.

While a significant portion of the evidence supporting the petition against the sale was already in the public domain, Judge Gilia Ravid of the Tel Aviv District Court ruled in favor of the state’s request to exclude media coverage. Her decision was based partly on the standard concerns regarding state security and foreign policy, but more significantly, the judge accepted the state’s argument that because they were precluded from presenting evidence derived from classified material, the media would only cover the arguments presented by the plaintiff, which would result in the public receiving a distorted version of the case.

Attorney Eitay Mack submitted and argued for the petition, which was signed by 56 Israeli human rights activists. Named on the petition are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and the Director of Security Exports at the Ministry of Defense.

“The current president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is a mass murderer who condones rape, shooting women in the gentials, and blowing up schools for indigenous minorities,” wrote the petitioners. “Since Duterte took office in June 2016, after campaigning on ‘the war against drugs,’ Philippine police have executed approximately 12,000 people, according to a January 2018 report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Most of the executions are carried out by masked special forces officers who enter slum neighborhoods, arrest men and boys, and shoot them on the spot.” HRW reports that the number of executions has continued to rise since it published its report last year.

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The petition notes: “Beyond the question of the legality of exporting Israeli weapons to the Philippines, there are the matters of ethics and intelligence. State security forces armed with Israeli weapons are carrying out mass executions of civilians living in impoverished slums, and this is unacceptable.”

Since Duterte took office, added the petitioners, he has acquired significant...

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What Israeli media gets wrong about Palestinian voters

As long as journalists don’t challenge the mainstream segregationist narrative in Israeli society, they will have negligible impact on Arab voter turnout, says Palestinian sociologist Dr. Maha Karkabi Sabah.

By Oren Persico

For consumers of Israeli media, there are essentially two separate election campaigns taking place right now, says Dr. Maha Karkabi Sabah, a researcher in the sociology of gender. The first campaign is the central one, and the second, concerning the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, exists somewhere on the margins.

The problem with how Israeli media covers the Arab community, especially during elections, is twofold, explains Karkabi Sabah: in scope and substance. “In terms of scope, coverage of the Palestinian Arab community lies on the margins, just like our standing in Israeli society. The media focuses on issues and events that are of interest to the Jewish community, and gives the impression that this is what consumers want, that developments in the Arab community are not interesting or relevant to national politics,” she adds.

“In terms of substance, the media mostly covers events, and doesn’t provide analysis of strategies or trends,” she continues. “They don’t try to understand what lies behind how elections are perceived in the Arab community, and how they’re connected to the general system. The reports take a factual tone and focus on the decisions that are made, and there isn’t so much of an effort to provide a deeper picture of how or why these decisions are made, or their impact on the general election campaign as a whole.

“The media operates in a way that bolsters the public discourse that’s relevant to the ruling group, instead of challenging it; instead of introducing the Jewish public to information that can deepen its understanding of the complex position of the Palestinian citizens as a national minority in a country that defines itself as Jewish and democratic,” Karkabi Sabah says. “Of course, there are those who do comprehend this complexity, but they, too, end up propagating a discourse that excludes Arabs and delegitimizes their political demands, especially those of their political representatives.”

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For example, “a strong trend in some of the news coverage is reports that reinforce...

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Once there's no Palestinian suspect, the media loses interest

The media played a key role in turning a Palestinian man into the top suspect in a recent child rape case. But ever since charges against him were dropped, the press seems to have lost interest in the case.

By Uzi Benziman

If you Google the recent rape case of a seven-year-old ultra-Orthodox girl in an ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank, you will find tens of thousands of results. At least until June 25.

After all, that was the day Mahmoud Katusa, a Palestinian from a nearby village who was falsely indicted on child rape charges, was released from prison once it became clear he was not the perpetrator.

Since then, the case has received very little media attention. One must wonder, then, how it is possible that a story that only weeks ago was described by the media as a “horrific and cruel act” — perpetrated by an “animal” against an innocent girl — has disappeared from both the news and the public’s consciousness?

The media silence that has followed the court’s decision is difficult to grasp; after all, the newspapers reported that the investigation will continue. They quoted the Military Advocate General, who said that an additional investigation is necessary in order to “exhaust all the necessary leads, both in relation to Katusa as well as others.”

This official commitment was made by all relevant law enforcement agencies, including the Military Advocate General and the head of Israel Police’s Department of Investigations and Intelligence. Yet two weeks have passed and the media has not bothered to update the public on the progress of the investigation.

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Neither has the media provided relevant information that goes beyond the confines of the investigation. We do not know how Katusa has been doing since his release or whether he has returned to his old job in the settlement. We do not know about the relations between the settlement and the nearby village of Qadis, or how the ultra-Orthodox residents view the Palestinian laborers who come in and out of the town.

The press is supposed to provide an answer to the public’s interest in the girl’s family, the atmosphere in the school after the charges against Katusa were dropped, or what the neighbors have been saying. This information can and must be put out there, subject to legal restrictions, regardless of whether the state slapped a gag order on the case.

I suspect that the media’s utter silence on the...

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How the media helped turn an innocent Palestinian into a child rapist

Mahmoud Katusa, who was falsely accused of raping a 7-year-old Jewish girl, fell victim to a press and a public atmosphere that views Palestinians as guilty until proven innocent.

By Uzi Benziman

In order to understand the false allegations against Mahmoud Katusa, a Palestinian man from the West Bank who was wrongfully accused of raping a 7-year-old Jewish girl, one should listen to what Dr. Suzy Ben Baruch, the former head of the Israel Police Juvenile Department, told Army Radio last week.

Speaking on an evening show, Ben Baruch firmly stated that Katusa’s was “the perfect case.” The victim’s “early acquaintance with the rapist,” and that he was speedily identified were “sound evidence for filing an indictment. And that’s what we have in this case.”

Co-host Yaakov Berdugo tried to understand Ben Baruch’s diagnosis, repeatedly asking her about how she came to this particular conclusion. Ben Baruch responded resolutely: “If the prosecution had doubts about its ability to prove the accusation, it would not have filed an indictment.”

Army Radio was not the only outlet to host Ben Baruch and make room for her insights. That same night she was also interviewed by several other outlets, and in the following days, her opinion could be found everywhere in the media. The impression she left was incontrovertible: Katusa is the rapist, and the Military Advocate General and the police have solid evidence to prosecute him.

On Tuesday morning, shortly after the police and the MAG withdrew the indictment against Katusa, Ben Baruch’s conclusions now speak for themselves. The irony is clear as day, and perhaps it is symbolic that someone previously tasked with investigating cases of sexual abuse of minors failed so disgracefully.

The behavior of the police and the MAG in this case not only reflects an inexcusable professional clumsiness; it mainly shows the kind of racist mindset that is poisoning Israeli society — including, woefully, the branch entrusted with enforcing the law. The state authority whose role it is to protect the public from injustice, to implement the very principles of justice rather than divert or distort it, is infected by a disease that all state institutions must be safeguarded against.

The rape attributed to Katusa took place in an ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank that has limited contact with state authorities, including the police. It is a place where the rabbi has far greater authority than the local police commander. As expected, the news of the rape initially remained within the...

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Is Israel trying to hide arms exports to neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine?

Human rights activists are hoping to use the courts to expose Israeli arms exports and security know-how to neo-Nazi militias fighting in Ukraine.

By Shuki Taussig

Is Israel knowingly selling weapons to neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine? A group of Israeli human rights activists filed a petition to the Tel Aviv District Court last June to demand the government halt weapons exports to the country, where armed groups have been engaged in fighting for the past five years.

In response, the state has asked that the court slap a gag order on legal proceedings surrounding the alleged sale of weapons and military knowledge to neo-Nazis fighting in Ukraine, and has requested the court tohold its hearing behind closed doors and present its arguments in an ex parte hearing.

The petition, submitted by attorney Eitay Mack on behalf of 42 activists, demands that the Tel Aviv District Court instruct the Defense Ministry official charged with overseeing security exports to rescind, either tentatively or permanently, the licenses granted for exporting weapons to Ukraine. The activists argue that these weapons serve forces that openly support a neo-Nazi ideology and cite evidence that the far-right Azov Battalion, whose members belong to Ukraine’s armed forces, are using these weapons.

The Azov Battalion was established in Ukraine following the 2014 Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula. It uses well-known National Socialists symbols, while its members use the Nazi salute and carry swastikas and SS insignias.

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“It is well known that the State of Israel has a special commitment to the global struggle against neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism,” the petition states. “Even if there is any interest in continuing Israeli security exports to Ukraine, the petitioners believe that the State of Israel cannot take the risk that Israeli weapons and training will be used by neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic soldiers.”

The state’s response included affidavits by top Defense Ministry officials, and rejected the petition out of hand, saying the judicial system has no say in matters of security exports. “The decisions regarding security export policy clearly fall under the powers of the executive branch, which are made on the basis of considerations that have to do with national security, foreign relations and international obligations while safeguarding the vital interests of the state,” attorney Sarah Bello from the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office wrote in the response.

But what are the vital interests of the state...

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Palestinians nearly absent from Israel's Election Day news broadcasts

Israel’s leading news outlets included not a single Arab panelist on Election Day. The other stations didn’t fare much better. 

By Oren Persico

Israel’s top-rated news channel did not include a single Arab speaker on Election Day last week, according to the “Representation Index,” a joint initiative of the Israeli NGO Sikkuy and Ifat Media Information, which provides quantitative and qualitative analysis of Arab citizens of Israel who are interviewed on leading news and current affairs programs.

Israel’s largest news companies — Channel 12, Channel 13, and Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, respectively — established special makeshift studios across Jerusalem in the lead-up to last week’s national election. Not a single panel included an Arab speaker on primetime, neither on Election Day nor the day after. While Kan and Channel 13 did include a small number Arab speakers throughout the day, not a single Arab voice could be found on Channel 12.

The low voter turnout among Palestinian citizens of Israel was a central issue in these elections, yet the panelists who were granted airtime to discuss the issue were for the most part Jewish Israelis, according to Ifat Media Information. When Arab panelists did appear on television, it was during hours with relatively few viewers. It should be noted that only speakers who were physically present at the studios were counted in this analysis. There were a number of Arabs who participated in discussions from the field.

On Election Day, Kan’s studio, built across from the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, included a total of 63 panelists, among them only five Arabs (eight percent): former MK Taleb el-Sana, Bar-Ilan University researcher Waseem Younis, journalist Safaa Farhat, writer and tech specialist Afif Abu Much, and researcher Salim Bariq from the Open University.

Channel 13 included 107 panelists on the day of and the day after the elections, of which only six (six percent) were Arabs: Safaa Farhat, MK Jamal Zahalka, first-time voter Zaki Shyuahna of Sakhnin, journalist Sanaa Hamoud, Afif Abu Much, and former MK Zouheir Bahloul.

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Of the 74 panelists who appeared on Channel 12 on Election Day and the day that followed, not a single one was Arab.

An in-depth examination revealed that all 11 speakers who appeared on Kan and Channel 13 did so during non-peak hours.

On Tuesday, April 9 at 10 p.m., the three outlets published their exit...

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'Criticizing the government nowadays makes you a traitor'

Avi Katz, the cartoonist let go by ‘The Jerusalem Report’ over a caricature depicting Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers as characters from ‘Animal Farm,’ talks about what happened behind the scenes, why accusations of anti-Semitism are so off-base, and what the saga says about freedom of expression in Israel today.

By Oren Persico

Avi Katz wasn’t even in Israel when the cartoon was published. He was in the United States, where he was born, visiting his children. A few days earlier, he had realized his deadline was approaching for the weekly cartoon he publishes in The Jerusalem Report, called “Sketchbook,” and that he hadn’t yet sent anything to his editors.

“I went over the news and I saw Fitoussi’s photograph of the selfie and I broke out laughing,” Katz says, referring to Associated Press photographer Olivier Fitoussi’s photo, initially published in Haaretz, showing Benjamin Netanyahu and some of the more radical and oft-ridiculed lawmakers from his Likud party celebrating the passage of the Jewish Nation-State Law in the Knesset. Netanyahu appears forlorn, MK Oren Hazan is smirking, and the latter’s belly is exposed as he raises his arm to take the selfie.

“I said to myself, I don’t need to do a caricature, the caricature already exists,” Katz recalls, “and I decided to do the easy thing. It’s like telling someone else’s joke and you hope you don’t mess it up too much. I drew the photo the same way they were positioned and standing in it, Hazan and [David] Bitan and the rest, and I drew them as pigs. On the top half of the page, in large letters, I wrote the George Orwell quote and then I sent it.”

Jerusalem Report editor Steve Linde (formerly editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post) immediately wrote back saying thank you, Katz recalls. Something along the lines of, “Great, I was worried you weren’t going to make the deadline.” Soon after, Katz says, “they sent the cartoon to print and it appeared in the magazine.”

The quote, as anyone who has read the book would immediately recognize, is taken from Orwell’s Animal Farm, a satirical allegory of the Soviet Union that takes place on a farm controlled by the pigs, who explain to the other animals that although all the animals are equal, some animals are more equal than the rest.

To Katz, the parallels between the discrimination anchored...

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Israel arrests six Palestinian journalists for 'incitement'

Dozens of Palestinian journalists protest to demand the release of 21 of their colleagues currently imprisoned by Israel. 

By Oren Persico

Israeli security forces arrested six Palestinian journalists across the occupied territories over the past several days for alleged incitement.

Four of the journalists — Alaa Rimawi, Mohamed Hamdan, Qoteiba Hamdan, and Hosni Angas — work for the Hamas-linked Al Quds television station. They were arrested on July 30th. Mohamed Hamdan, was detained in an Israeli prison for several days last February after filming a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners, while Rimawi, Al Quds’ bureau chief, was previously imprisoned for 12 years in Israel.

Israeli forces also arrested Mohamed Anwar Mouna, a journalist with Al Quds Press, which is also affiliated with Hamas, and who also manages a local radio station in Nablus, as well columnist Lama Khater, who writes for various Palestinian outlets.

According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), a Paris-based NGO dedicated to the protection of journalists around the world, the arrests were politically motivated

“Palestinian journalists held solely for political reasons must be released at once,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “In the absence of any proof to the contrary, these journalists have committed no crime justifying their detention, which is therefore completely arbitrary.”

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On Sunday, dozens of Palestinian journalists took part in a protest outside Ofer Military Prison near Ramallah to demand the release of 21 journalists currently imprisoned by Israel. According to the MADA, an NGO that defends Palestinian journalists, the Israeli military closed a total of 17 Palestinian media outlets last year, accusing some of them of providing video footage to Hamas-affiliated stations. The closures were accompanied by arrests of journalists, some of whom were held for several months.

The IDF Spokesperson Unit issued the following to the arrests of the six journalists:

A version of this article first appeared in Hebrew on the Seventh Eye. Read it here.

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An end to 'apartheid polls' in Israeli media?

Jews-only polls on matters relevant to the entire Israeli public and polls that present Jews-only polls as representing the views of the entire Israeli public constitute discrimination against the country’s Arab population, Israeli Press Council’s Ethics Court rules.

By Oren Persico

Excluding Israel’s Arab population from public opinion polls on matters of politics and policy is ethically unacceptable, according to a ruling by an appeals tribunal of the Israeli Press Council’s Ethics Court earlier this month. The ruling overturned an earlier decision that said publishing Jews-only public opinion polls on matters relevant to the entire Israeli public was ethically acceptable. It has long been common practice among mainstream Israeli media outlets to exclude Arab citizens of Israel from public opinion polls.

The Press Council’s Ethics Tribunal found Israel Hayom, the Israeli newspaper funded by Sheldon Adelson, and Ynet, the web version of the Yedioth Aharonot newspaper, to be in violation of the Press Council’s ethics code for publishing exclusionary opinion polls. The Council also ruled that both Israel Hayom and Ynet have a week to publicize their violations of the Council’s ethics code.

For over three years, the Seventh Eye has tracked the publication of “apartheid polls,” public opinion polls that represent the views of Jews only on matters relevant to the entire Israeli public. Following criticism of this practice, several major publications that previously published Jews-only polls — including Haaretz, Army Radio, Globes (a business paper), Channel 10 News, and Channel 2 News — agreed to cease publishing such polls, or to at least report on the polls in a way that makes it clear that they represent the views of solely the Jewish Israeli public. Other publications ignored the criticism and continued to publish Jews-only polls.

Roughly a year and a half ago, Yair Tarchitsky, chairman of the Israeli Union of Journalists and a member of the Press Council’s directorate, initiated a change in the Council’s ethics code to formally prohibit the publication of discriminatory polls in Israeli media outlets. Though the change was accepted by the Press Council in 2016, numerous outlets continued, nevertheless, to publish Jews-only polls. In response, attorney Elad Man, legal advisor to the NGO Hatzlaha and chairman of the Seventh Eye, filed a complaint with the Press Council against six media outlets that published Jews-only polls: the Adelson-funded Israel Hayom, Yedioth Aharonot, Basheva (a religious-nationalist tabloid), Maariv, and The Jerusalem Post.

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Challenging Israel's secret information warfare campaign

Israel’s government is outsourcing ‘mass consciousness activities’ to private organizations, unaccountable to the public. A legal challenge in the High Court aims to stop it. 

By Itamar Benzaquen

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs is carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so, according to a lawsuit filed in the High Court of Justice Monday. Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which Ben Meir calls the “Ministry of Spying and Propaganda,” is, according to the attorney, surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.

The ministry has been at the center of a series of articles published by the Seventh Eye over the past several months. The articles revealed that one of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ main activities is the funding and publication of government propaganda on social networks and in newspapers, which is often carried out with the help of private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.

The Israeli government recently approved the payment of NIS 128 million to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” The organization was also said to have received a donation of a similar sum from Jewish philanthropists whose names the Ministry of Strategic Affairs refused to disclose. Kela-Shlomo’s starting budget, as result, exceeds a quarter of a billion shekels. Attorney Ben-Meir is demanding that the High Court of Justice stop these activities, too.

Kela-Shlomo is a non-profit organization founded by former high-ranking government employees, including former Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs Yossi Kuperwasser. Unlike a government agency, which must follow freedom of information laws and actively publish information about its donors and formal ties, Kela-Shlomo owes the public nothing – it does not even have a website (a temporary website set-up by the organization just months ago has been taken down).

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Attorney Ben Meir argues that the relationship with Kela-Shlomo is meant to enable activities that “the Israeli government is prohibited from doing,” while obscuring the fact that these activities are...

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The Israeli government is paying for anti-BDS journalism

The Israeli ministry tasked with fighting the BDS Movement is spending millions of shekels to place propaganda that looks like news in Israel’s most prominent media outlets.

By Itamar Benzaquen

The Israeli government paid the Yedioth Group, publisher of Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, hundreds of thousands of shekels to publish articles and interviews meant to influence readers to support a campaign Israel is waging against its critics. The Strategic Affairs Ministry, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, purchased positive coverage and the distribution of that content on the Internet.

According to information provided to “The Seventh Eye” and “Hatzlacha,” as part of a freedom of information request, the Yedioth Ahronoth Group received NIS 350,000 ($100,000) to publish journalistic articles, which were then distributed by member organizations of the “Pro-Israel Network” in Israel and around the world. The articles, according to the information furnished, were meant to motivate or enlist Israelis into the struggle.

The paid-for articles were published starting in June 2017 in the news section of Yedioth Ahronoth‘s weekend magazine, and on its website, Ynet. Like other campaigns that included purchasing articles from the newspaper, this one also included promotions in the widely-distributed weekend edition.

Alongside the paid-for articles, Ynet also published promotional videos produced by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, as well as three interviews with a ranking official at the ministry, Tzahi Gabrieli. Two of those paid-for interviews were conducted by Ynet’s senior political correspondent, Attila Somfalvi, who asked soft-ball questions that allowed him to present his talking points.

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In addition to the interviews with Gabrieli, Yedioth also interviewed a string of people from various Jewish organizations that do not have direct ties to the state. The role of those organizations in the government efforts against de-legitimization and their ties to the government are unclear.

Two of those organizations, the “World Jewish Congress” and “Stand With Us,” were sponsors of Yedioth’s anti-BDS conference last year, in which senior politicians and officials from the Strategic Affairs Ministry took part. “Over the last year,” wrote journalist Reuven Weiss in one of the paid-for articles, “the boycott movement’s main base of operations in their campaign to delegitimize Israel has moved to social media, and...

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Mexico used Israeli software to spy on journalists, activists

A New York Times investigation reveals how the Mexican government used software developed by an Israeli company to hack the phones of anti-corruption lawyers and activists in Mexico.

By Edan Ring

An Israeli cyber and spyware company, NSO, is in the headlines again over its software being used to hack the phones of anti-corruption lawyers and activists in Mexico. Nonetheless, it has been considered a source of “Israeli pride.” Established by veterans of the IDF’s main intelligence unit and run out of Herzliya, NSO’s spying and eavesdropping software – and above all its Pegasus spyware — have earned it global name recognition. Last year, Apple was forced to release an iPhone security update after it was discovered that Pegasus had been used to try and hack the phone of an Emirati human rights activist. The Israeli company had almost managed to take advantage of what was then considered the most secure operating system in the world.

Pegasus is thought to be among the most sophisticated software of its kind. It allows users to remotely take over cellphones and computers, to take pictures with their cameras and record conversations with their microphones, and overall to turn them into spying devices that can pass on huge amounts of their owners’ personal information.

This software has won plaudits from across the world of cyber security, and has raked in money for NSO. The cyber outfit has been valued at around a billion dollars, amid speculation that its investment funder is looking to sell it off — a dream come true for all startup companies in the “Start-up Nation.”

Yet this “Israeli pride” is highly questionable. An expansive investigation by Canadian research center Citizen Lab, published in the New York Times this week, reveals how the Mexican government purchased the Pegasus software and used it to spy on lawyers, journalists and human rights activists working to combat state corruption.

NSO would have charged around $650,000 to track the activity of dozens of iPhones, according to documents previously presented by New York Times researchers, in addition to the $500,000 payment to install the software. Since 2011 the Mexican government has, according to the more recent investigation, paid NSO around $80 million for use of its spyware in order to monitor various human and civil rights advocates and activists.

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Netanyahu scandal exposes corruption in the Israeli press

The alleged dealing between Netanyahu and the publisher of ‘Yedioth’ reveals the driving force behind Israel’s biggest newspapers — a type of corruption that couldn’t exist in media outlets with truly independent journalists.

By Shuki Tausig

Israeli media this week revealed secretly recorded conversations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the publisher of the country’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. The contents of the conversations, ostensibly negotiations between the two men, once again expose the bitter truth about the world of Israel’s media: it is one in which media and journalistic outlets are driven solely by economic interests. They are beholden by the owners’ bottom line, and their journalistic work is constrained and governed by external interests and illicit relationships with the subjects of their coverage.

According to the reports by Haaretz and Channel 2, the recordings are of Netanyahu and Yedioth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes discussing a deal according to which Yedioth will alter its hostile coverage of Netanyahu. In return, Netanyahu will act to reduce the circulation of rival newspaper Israel Hayom, and perhaps even stop it from putting out a weekend magazine edition.

Such deals reiterate just how baseless many of the widespread axioms about the Israeli press and journalists are, specifically:

  • That Yedioth Ahronoth is a newspaper that is ideologically opposed to Netanyahu.
  • That Israel Hayom is an ideologically right-wing newspaper.
  • That journalists at both Yedioth and Israel Hayom operate independently and free of third-party interests.

The alleged deal demonstrates that Yedioth Ahronoth doesn’t actually have a problem with Netanyahu and Israel Hayom isn’t particularly identified with the political right. They are personal media outlets used for specific aims: Yedioth is utilized to generate profits for the ownership, controlled by Mozes. Its hostile coverage of Netanyahu is not the result of any affinity for his political opponents, and certainly not borne of ideology; it is a response to the threat posed to Yedioth’s bottom line by Netanyahu when he brought about the creation of Israel Hayom.

On the one hand, we can conclude from the alleged conversations that Israel Hayom is not the ideological mouthpiece of a silenced right wing, but rather a blunt instrument designed to serve the political maneuvers of a single politician. Out of a desire to make gains with a “left-wing” newspaper, the prime minister was willing to inflict a price on a “right-wing” paper.

Senior journalists at Israel Hayom have for...

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