Did Bibi’s patron newspaper just endorse Trump?

Pro-Netanyahu paper ‘Israel Hayom’ makes clear that Trump is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to go to war against ‘Islamic terror.’

File photo of Donald Trump (Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com)
File photo of Donald Trump (Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com)

If you happened to glance at Israel Hayom‘s front page on Monday, you may have noticed what look to be a brazen political endorsement. The top headline reads as follows: “Giuliani says: ‘Trump isn’t afraid to say Islamic terror’.”

Monday’s edition of Israel Hayom, the free Israeli daily owned by American casino mogul and Republican bankroller Sheldon Adelson — considered Prime Minister Netanyahu’s patron newspaper — included an interview with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The interview itself is less than illuminating; the real story is the editorial decision to place Giuliani’s invective front and center.

The headline itself surely resonated with most Israel Hayom readers — not to say most Israelis — while the subhead was simply one long attack on presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who according to Giuliani has “failed at everything she has ever done” and “has one of the worst records in history. The subtext is hard to miss: Trump isn’t afraid to fight against Islamic terrorists, and therefore should be viewed by Israelis as the right person for the job. Hillary, on the other hand, is incapable and a failure.

The paper’s editorial decision begs a number of questions: does Israel Hayom have any qualms about standing behind a bigoted presidential candidate who has made anti-Semitic statements — and has been repeatedly condemned by the Anti-Defamation League — not to mention verbal attack after verbal attack on undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities? Adelson’s paper is notoriously right wing, but does that mean it will undoubtedly get behind any Republican candidate, regardless of his position on Israel (Trump famously said he would remain “neutral” on issues pertaining to Israel/Palestine, although he did throw his support behind Netanyahu in the 2013 elections)?

Israel Hayom front page reads: "Giuliani says: 'Trump isn't afraid to say Islamic terror.'"
Israel Hayom front page reads: “Giuliani says: ‘Trump isn’t afraid to say Islamic terror.'”

Israel Hayom, a free daily paper, was created by Adelson as a platform for Netanyahu while circumventing Israel’s extremely strict campaign finance laws. He bankrolls the paper reportedly at a considerable loss, selling ad space significantly below market value to put his competitors at a disadvantage. The paper, now the country’s most widely read, has dramatically upended Israel’s media landscape, and is considered just one of the ways Netanyahu is able to maintain control over the public discourse.

Israel Hayom’s editor-in-chief is Amos Regev, who was reportedly handpicked for the job by Netanyahu. As my colleague Noa Yachot recently pointed out, Regev allegedly reviews almost every word before it goes to print, excises all copy remotely critical of the prime minister, and must personally approve all photos of Netanyahu’s wife, Sarah.

A number of other members of Netanyahu’s inner circle have been on the Israel Hayom payroll, including Natan Eshel, Netanyahu’s disgraced former chief of staff, and Dror Eydar, who previously worked as a speechwriter in the Prime Minister’s Office.

In February 2015, after suspecting that Netanyahu himself was exerting editorial control on what was being printed, Channel 10 journalist Raviv Drucker filed a freedom of information act to the Prime Minister’s Office to obtain information on all conversations between Netanyahu, Regev, and Sheldon Adelson. Four months later, the Prime Minister’s Office wrote back saying that the documentation of the prime minister’s conversations until March 2014 have been transferred to the state archives, thus the information does not have to be provided according to the law governing official government archives. A Supreme Court appeal seeking to force Netanyahu to turn over the call logs is pending.