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Israel's top news channel: Gov't asked us to show more Gaza devastation

Israeli consumers don’t want to know what’s happening on the other side, the station’s foreign editor explains. ‘We don’t serve the regime, we serve the consumerist regime.’

By Oren Persico / ‘The 7th Eye

Palestinian children carry goods that were rescued from the village of Khuza'a, which has undergone of intense attacks and was largely destroyed during the Israeli offensive.

Palestinian children carry goods salvaged from the Gazan village of Khuza’a, which underwent of intense attacks and was largely destroyed during the Israeli offensive, Operation Protective Edge. (Photo by Activestills.org)

During this summer’s Gaza war officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and Defense Ministry contacted Israel’s Channel 2 News, asking why they were not broadcasting more images of destruction caused by the army’s bombing in Gaza.

Speaking at a panel discussion at Netanya College last week, Arad Nir, the company’s foreign news editor, said the news channel did not comply with the government’s request, instead decided to show what its viewers demanded.

The panel, which also included journalists Dror Feuer, Prof. Motti Neiger and Attoney El-Ad Mann, dealt with freedom of speech in Israel and the Israeli media’s coverage of Protective Edge.

“The Israeli media allows itself to be controlled by its consumers — it does this of its own volition,” said Nir.

“My personal, in-house claim is that if we provide our audience with a different type of journalism, even in certain doses, if we make it good enough and interesting enough — the public will know how to handle it,” he continued. “The media here has a kind of patronizing and arrogant attitude toward the public.”

Nir also spoke about the differences between the Israeli media’s coverage of the war as opposed to global media coverage.

“In Protective Edge, out of the 15 hours of straight news coverage per day showing what happened in this war, there were only 10 or 15 minutes dedicated to what happened on the other side,” he said, adding that “only five minutes of out two hours of every prime time news broadcasts were dedicated to what was happening on the other side, and not always [even that].”

“As someone who sits in front of the screen all day, I see two completely different wars,” the Channel 2 News editor explained. “There is one war that you see on BBC, CNN and all those channels, and another war that you see on [Israel’s] Channel 1, Channel 2 and Channel 10. Totally different pictures.”

“I have some news for you,” Nir went on. “Even the decision makers in Israel […] wanted us to show what was happening on the other side — they were under the impression that the public doesn’t understand how much they were doing or how hard they were hitting the other side. So they complained to us.”

“It’s not that we are serving the regime, the government — we are serving the consumerist regime, and those are not necessarily the same interests.”

“I know for a fact that there were phone calls by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry in which they asked us: “Why aren’t you showing what’s happening on the other side?” he detailed.

“During all the wars we covered on Channel 2 News, during our post-mortem meetings there were many times that we made a mea culpa and admitted that perhaps the public’s feelings of bitterness in the wake of the war were because we did not show what was happening on the other side,” he admitted. “That is, we didn’t show the public the blood spilled in its name on the other side. Not because someone cared about what was happening there, not because someone thinks that this isn’t the way to behave, that we must think differently. Rather the opposite – because this is the way, because this is what we must do. But we didn’t show that.”

Channel 2 journalist Dana Weiss made a similar claim in a lecture at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies last month. (Hebrew)

At a different point in the discussion at Netanya College, Nir admitted that the “reign of the consumer,” as he terms it, causes Channel 2 News to not only shape its content to the will of the people, but also the identity of its presenteres. Responding to a question by Mann regarding the make-up of Friday night’s highly-rated, primetime “Ulpan Shishi” news show, Nir responded: “Friday’s panel is influenced by Saturday morning’s ratings — unequivocally.”

This article was first published in Hebrew by The 7th Eye media watchdog website. It is reproduced here with permission.

More on the Israeli media’s war coverage:
For the Israeli media, Gazan lives are little more than expendable
Dispatch from Gaza: Why Palestinians should speak to Israeli media
Gaza deaths aren’t worth a mention in leading Israeli newspaper

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    1. Pedro X

      Most people I know obtain their news over the internet. During the war there was no lack of coverage of the damage done in Gaza on Israeli websites such I24news, The Times of Israel, ynetnews, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, Haaretz, to name some. Most of these sites had live blogs updating strikes in Israel and Gaza on a minute to minute basis throughout the day and night. One also must remember that the IDF regularly released images of targets struck in Gaza.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      Speaking about the media, a new book will be out in a few weeks: “Israel and Gaza: Behind the media veil”.

      In these pages there is a good reminder of the structural habits in Western media that for more than half a century have helped Israel to maintain its increasingly violent dominance over the Palestinians without much challenge from opinion in the West.
      Victoria Brittain
      Author, journalist and a former
      Associate Foreign Editor of the Guardian


      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        It’s true. This is why one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when hasbarists complain, as they do incessantly, that “the whole world is against us” and “the media is biased.” It’s true that the western world’s (and especially the USA’s) media is biased, but it’s on balance biased way in favor of the Israeli state and it’s implicit narrative. As Larry Derfner has well argued, directly contrary to the theme the hasbarists harp on, Israel gets a pass that no other member of the western club of nations does. The semi-western Putin does not even get it. The Swedes sure as hell wouldn’t. The Germans? Let’s not even go there. But Netanyahu, with western leaders’ teeth gritted, does.

        Reply to Comment
    3. tomer

      I am very happy that Aza is devastated. The more misery for the foreign arabs over there means they are less likely to fire rockets again.

      Reply to Comment
      • Do you really want this to be your legacy? The more damage the GoI inflicts, the more firm is the resolve of the Palestinians. You’ve been trying for decades to “break them”, “break their bones”, etc. Decades. This is failure. You are a shining example of the “sick society” Rivlin spoke of. One good thing has come from the abject brutality of last summer is the awakening of millions of people who are finally seeing clearly what this zionist enterprise has become, and they don’t like the looks of it at all.

        I know you don’t care.

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        I find it useful when assessing character to ask: “If this person had been born a Gentile in Germany in 1920, how would he/she have behaved if given the opportunity? An enthusiast (the SS)? An active supporter? A passive supporter and ‘patriot’ (average Wehrmacht draftee)? Indifferent? A passive resister? An active resister (Hans and Sophie Scholl, other righteous Gentiles)?” Ask yourself: Where would ‘Tomer’ have been?

        Reply to Comment
        • Josh

          Firts row of window smashers on 9.11. for sure.
          And later in the “Einsatzgruppen”, cause he is obsessed with deporting people “belongin not to “us”” across borders to establish an ethnic clean state.
          And after the allies bombed his ass off, he would tell us that he was just an average normal follower, had to do his job and never ever said a bad word about jews..

          Reply to Comment
    4. Ginger Eis

      Oy, ya gotta luv this article! it seems +972mag is now clearly contradicting the lies it has told in the past. SMH. Up until now +972mag and its columnists (mairav zonszein, larry derner et. al.) has been spreading the lies that the Israeli government and its cronies control the news media and that there is no press freedom in Israel. Now +972 is saying that the Israeli news media is as free as the birds of the air to make its own choices and publish whatever it wants – as it sees fit?! Gee! But that’s not all folks. According to +972mag, the almighty Israeli government actually had/has to go on its knees and beg the Israeli news media to report what the governments would like to see reported and that the government got/gets rebuffed while on its knees. This is unique. Only in Israel does the government beg to be heard (in time of war!) in the entire Western world. Thank you +972mag for MISTAKENLY reporting the truth!

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bruce Gould

      Still no Palestinians in the discussion right here! Guess they’ll have to speak indirectly – one of the best sites from a Palestinian perspective:


      Reply to Comment