By all accounts, Donald Trump’s election campaign is careening toward disaster. But according to Israel’s most-read newspaper, everything seems to be going just fine.
The most prominent event in the United States over the past few days has been the implosion of Donald Trump’s campaign. Not only has Trump lost the slight advantage he held following the Republican National Convention, according to polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, he is now trailing Hillary Clinton by five percent (Fox News’ latest poll is the least favorable).
There is still time until the elections and anything is possible. Right now, however, it looks like Trump has a big problem on his hands, which even the right-wing media and his biggest supporters cannot help but talk about. Other segments of the American mainstream are already speculating over the sanity of the Republican nominee, while some are discussing the possibility of replacing him before election day.
But if you read the most popular newspaper in Israel, Israel Hayom, the story of Trump’s troubles simply does not exist. At all. On Wednesday the paper merely hinted that Trump had become embroiled in controversy following his attacks on a Muslim American family whose son died in Iraq, while on Thursday it briefly mentioned the fact that he had kicked out a baby from one of his rallies.
But instead of reflecting the current turbulence, the headline of that piece is a quote by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, about how her father will be an excellent president. The only poll cited in the piece is by the Los Angeles Times (which shows Trump up by one percent), and the piece briefly mentions an Israeli who opened up a pro-Trump Facebook page, which already has 8,000 “likes.” That page, by the way, includes Bernie Sanders photoshopped with the slogan “Vote Trump, the bitch (Hillary) is crazy.”
All this would be funny if it weren’t the reality that most Israelis consume on a regular basis. This alternative universe will one day collapse, and Israel Hayom will most likely blame the media, or the elites, or the Left, or Obama the Muslim. Israel Hayom can support Trump just as Haaretz and the New York Times can support Clinton, but to conceal information — not opinions — from the readers shows a total abandonment of the mission and principles of journalism for the sake of something else entirely. If only this problem existed solely when it came to coverage of the U.S.
Israel Hayom‘s opinion pages included another reference to the upcoming elections, this time by Professor Avi Ben-Zvi, who raised a conjecture according to which the Russian hack of the Democratic Party’s computers and the leaking of files harmful to Clinton in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention were part of a complex sting operation meant to tie Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The absurd part is that Trump has never hidden his sympathy for Putin — even Ben-Zvi admits as much. In any case, there is no proof whatsoever to back this claim. Just more of the alternative reality.
Ben-Zvi is one of the top experts on Israel-U.S. relations; I studied under him 20 years ago, and I still remember him fondly. His lapse into strange conspiracy theories is another testimony to the general insanity of the current public discourse in Israel.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.