Hebrew Media Review

‘Fake news’ hits back at Bibi

Two days after Netanyahu’s fiery speech lambasting media and the left-wing, Israel’s print media doesn’t hold back in its own criticism of the PM

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Likud supporters at a rally designed to deliver a powerful show of force as he battles a slew of corruption allegations, August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Likud supporters at a rally designed to deliver a powerful show of force as he battles a slew of corruption allegations, August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the Israeli media, claiming it is promoting a left-wing agenda to bring down his government, the media is striking back.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend edition is chock-full of op-eds hitting back at the prime minister. The paper’s Amichai Attali lays into Netanyahu as nothing more than a “false messiah” of the right-wing. He lambasts Netanyahu’s accusation that the media aligns with the political left, saying the prime minister’s track record is in fact proof that he isn’t a strong right-wing leader.

Atalli cites Netanyahu’s failure to address terrorism from within the Israeli Arab community, his freezing of settlement construction in the West Bank, and the release of Palestinian terrorists in various prisoner exchanges during his tenure. He also recalls his own family’s disappointment when Netanyahu freed the Palestinian terrorist who murdered his brother in a prisoner exchange.

Yedioth’s weekend supplement prominently features a cartoon depicting senior Likud members struggling to hold up a litter bin carrying Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu, with the latter obliviously smoking a cigar above.

In her weekly column, Sima Kadmon doesn’t hold back either, saying the prime minister’s solidarity rally had authoritarian undertones.

“This is our prime minister. A man in his position should have kept his head down and kept quiet, and certainly should not have held an Erdogan-style rally for himself,” Kadmon writes. But instead, she says, “Netanyahu chose to declare war” on the media, the left-wing and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

The left-wing Haaretz daily also takes Netanyahu to task for attacking the media and the left. In a stinging editorial titled “Netanyahu above the law,” the paper says the premier’s remarks represent a danger to Israel’s democracy.

“Netanyahu, in fact, told the crowd that it won’t be police, lawyers or judges who will judge him — it will be his thousands of supporters,” the editorial charges.

The paper accuses the Israeli leader of sending a not-so-subtle message to law enforcement officials that “the adoration of the masses is above the law.” It adds that “there’s no parallel for this kind of behavior in a state of law.”

Columnist Carolina Landsman calls Netanyahu’s speech “pure emotional manipulation,” while Ravit Hecht says his Wednesday remarks are an example of the prime minister’s hypocrisy.

“Any criticism and he immediately brands it as patronization and condescension towards his supporters,” she charges.

Unlike Haaretz and Yedioth, the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom dedicates less attention to Netanyahu’s controversial speech, instead focusing on the dangers of kids riding hoverboards and this year’s matriculation test results of Israeli high schoolers.

The free daily’s brief coverage of the political fallout in the wake of Netanyahu’s speech mainly focuses on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s defense of the prime minister — with the premier’s ally saying his speech was appropriate and adding that she does not feel he should resign even if indicted on corruption charges.

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