How the anti-Netanyahu daily actually brought him to power

Enhance a fear of Iran. Promote a privatization policy. Encourage the view that Israel has no peace partner. If you do all that, don’t expect the voters to reject the person who represents this very worldview.

Daniel Dor (translated by Sol Salbe)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud minister Israel Katz at a campaign event in Raanana. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud minister Israel Katz at a campaign event in Raanana. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

I recently heard some people saying that we now have the proof that the media really does not have any sway over the voting public. Look how much effort it invested in the campaign against Netanyahu, and once again he won. A generation of media professionals will now be raised on this so-called insight. It fits the industry’s capitalist instincts like a glove: if it really doesn’t matter what we do, then why not continue selling some marketing content, regurgitate cliches and call it a day.

But this so-called insight is not only dangerous — it is also wrong. There is, of course, the minor matter of Israel Hayom: only those in-crowd of the media bubble think that everyone knows the paper belongs to Netanyahu. It is reasonable to assume that it carries as much weight in the broad community as the old established papers.

The main point, however, revolves around the very essence of the media’s impact: it works in the long term. Take Yedioth Ahronoth, which day after day markets to its readers a perspective that strengthens the fear of Arabs and Iranians. It is a perspective which ignores the occupation and its horrors and continually reiterates that there is no partner for peace and there is unlikely to be one any time soon. The paper’s viewpoint expresses open contempt and reasoned disdain for the social protest movement. It may be somewhat afraid of a quarrel with the U.S,, but is convinced that the whole world is against us because of its anti-Semitism. It visualizes economic reality from the perspective of a child’s version of capitalism (the newspaper itself, not its sister publication, Calcalist, devoted to financial matters), and so on. The list is long.

In this way, Yedioth creates the ideological basis upon which Bibi is perched. You can keep on calling it a “leftist” newspaper till the cows come home. The ideology it portrays is undoubtedly a right-wing one.

And then Yedioth Ahronoth suddenly decides to get rid of Bibi the individual, but not what he stands for. It embarks on a campaign to convince people to toss him out on the basis of some minor scandal. This well and good, responds the public, but we also need to remember life itself. The whole world is against us. We are threatened by the imminent dropping of The Bomb. Who would be best able to cope with all this? Of course it’s Netanyahu. And if he is the only one who can do so, why are you raving all of a sudden about his wife Sara pocketing loose change from some recycled bottles? In other words, the long-term impact of the content of the paper is enormous. Even the paper itself cannot simply switch it off when it feels like it.

Likud youth hold a protest against Yedioth Ahronoth. (photo: Nir Gontarz)
Likud youth hold a protest against Yedioth Ahronoth. (photo: Nir Gontarz)

So Yedioth wants a “regime change?” By all means. Let them now start unravelling their cocoon of intimidation, concealment and deception that they have woven for many years (of course not on their own) around the Israeli public consciousness. Let them work on it gradually and thoroughly, over a good many years. Sometime in the future, God willing, they will get to sit in front of the television at 10 p.m. on election night, watch the exit polls and see how their influence sent Bibi packing.

Daniel Dor is a linguist and scholar of communication, head of the Department of Communications at Tel Aviv University, author of “The Press Under the Influence,” and co-founder of the Social Guard with Lia Nirgad. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle east News Service Melbourne Australia.

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