Israel media review

Throwing suspected rapists a rope: 6 things to know for July 18

The Israeli press gives an unseemly amount of airtime and column inches to victim blaming and unverified defenses of 12 Israelis accused of gang raping a British tourist in Cyprus

Joshua Davidovich is The Times of Israel's Deputy Editor

Screen capture from video of Israeli suspects in the alleged gang-rape of a British tourist in Cyprus being brought for a remand hearing at a Cypriot court, July 18, 2019. (Walla)
Screen capture from video of Israeli suspects in the alleged gang-rape of a British tourist in Cyprus being brought for a remand hearing at a Cypriot court, July 18, 2019. (Walla)

1. How not to report on a gang rape: Reporting on an alleged gang rape is by no means easy, but some Israeli news sites are providing a workshop in how not to do it, after 12 Israeli vacationers, some of them apparently minors, were arrested over the alleged rape of a British tourist.

  • Alongside the straight reporting on the unspeakable alleged crime, news outlets rush to give voice to other Israelis and the parents of the alleged perps, allowing them to make themselves out as victims and engage in some old-fashioned victim blaming.
  • Yedioth Ahronoth quotes a “representative” at the hotel who says the woman who complained had befriended one of the Israelis a few nights earlier, and then more of the group, who hail from the Haifa area. Then she began “going around with them separately and playing along with them,” whatever that means, before “things got out of control and they took turns raping her, in front of the whole group.”
  • An interviewer given airtime on Army Radio goes even further, telling the station that the British girls were all over the place and “making eyes at everyone,” i.e., the hussy had it coming.

2. My son the monster: The families of the accused are also being given a chance to tell the press about the poor arrested suspects.

  • On Channel 12 news Wednesday, one mother got on to complain about how the authorities were slow in giving her information about her son’s alleged participation in the gang rape of another human being.
  • In Walla News, the sister of one suspect complains that he’s been treating poorly in prison and is “crying nonstop.”
  • A lawyer for some of the suspects tells the news site that they are good kids who were supposed to enter the IDF next week.
  • Channel 13 news snaps a picture of the father of one of the suspects putting on phylacteries outside of the courtroom, reminiscent of Israeli mobsters who suddenly remember to put on a kippa and carry around a book of psalms when they get arrested (he could also just be religious).
  • Another father (or maybe the same one, there are no names) tells the channel that “my son has nothing to do with this silliness. He’s a minor. He’s 17. I’ll tell you exactly what happened, some drunk tourist went and made a mess and complained and it got from there to the police, who just rounded up everyone who was there.”
  • “Rather than hide in their homes out of embarassment, the parents of these scum from Cyprus are looking to go on the media to speak out against the rape victim,” writes pundit Emilia Moatti on Twitter. “What the hell am I missing here? You raised monsters who took part in a gang rape, why do you think we should get to hear your terrible side?”

3. No such thing as bad press? There also seems to be a strange kind of fascination and almost what one might call prideful embarrassment in the amount of attention the case is getting.

  • “The country’s whole media and the public as well are very curious over what happened and how it might go,” Channel 13 quotes a local journalist saying. “This is the first time we’ve had something like this in Cyprus, we’ve never heard of anything like this here.”
  • Israel Hayom notes the worldwide attention the case is getting, writing that reporters from all over the world are parachuting in to cover it and calling it an “Israeli embarrassment.”
  • At the same time, it also appears to somewhat defend the suspects, chiding the British press for “presenting the details of the case as total fact.”

4. Barak fights another day: Hating on the British press is something at least Israel Hayom and Ehud Barak have in common, but the similarities stop there.

  • Barak went on the offensive Wednesday after days of being pummeled about reports of his connections to Jeffrey Epstein, saying it was because he was standing up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also aiming fire at Netanyahu’s son, among others, at a launch event for his Israel Democracy Party at a bar in Tel Aviv.
  • “Barak is fighting to stay relevant. He was firing in all directions on Wednesday,” Haaretz’s Yossi Verter writes.
  • ( He also says, “As someone who knows Barak for many years, I would say it’s safe to bet that he would not have taken the risk of participating in an orgy with 20-year-olds at a time when everything makes its way to Instagram in the blink of an eye.”)
  • Walla News’s Dan Magen breathlessly reports that Barak was treated like a rock star at the launch event: “The header ‘Israel after Netanyahu’ brought out young and old, women and men, hipsters and businessmen and former political opponents.”
  • ToI’s Raoul Wootliff compares the launch event to the more staid Israel Resilience party several months ago, which saw the debut of Benny Gantz.
  • “Gantz seemed to be preparing an army for mass conventional warfare while Barak was a guerrilla leader ready for a coup, or at least a bar fight,” he writes. “Taking to a stage usually showcasing mediocre Israeli bands, the former prime minister came out swinging.”

5. Powerhouse for the powerful: In contrast, Netanyahu’s interview with Israel Hayom, plastered across its front page, is not his most exciting.

  • “We have turned Israel into a rising global power” reads the not exactly blockbuster headline, alongside a picture of Netanyahu and editor in chief Boaz Bismuth (and columnist Amnon Lord, for a change).
  • But has Netanyahu turned Israel into a huge success story? Looking closely at several indices and comparing them to the OECD, Nati Yefet of Zman Yisrael, ToI’s Hebrew sister site, finds that economic growth is not quite as strong as it seems, and is certainly not trickling down to where it is needed most.
  • “The figures from the last decade show another reality, which Israelis feel in their pocketbooks, and it’s very doubtful if Netanyahu can be proud of it. It’s not by chance that he rarely deals with the economy or social issues during elections,” he writes.
  • One actually interesting thing Netanyahu does say in the interview is that he is not insisting on regime change in Iran.
  • “I won’t mourn the end of the Iranian regime, but there can also be a change within the regime,” he says in a preview of comments ahead of the publication of the full interview Friday.

6. Omar coming? Omar going: Haaretz reports that  the prime minister will have to choose whether to suspend a law barring supporters of BDS from Israel, with Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Omar Ilhan planning trips.

  • Ilhan told the Jewish Insider on Wednesday that she and Tlaib were planning to visit Israel and the West Bank in “a few weeks,” but the trip could be nixed by Jerusalem over their support for the Palestinian-led anti-Israel boycott movement.
  • “Due to the sensitivity of the congresswomen’s planned visit and its possible ramifications on Israel-U.S. relations, Haaretz has learned Netanyahu would be asked to be the one to make the call on the issue,” the paper reports.
  • The news comes days after Omar and Tlaib introduced a measure in the House supporting the right to boycott. While not explicitly mentioning the BDS movement, Omar told al-Monitor that was one of its goals.
  • “We are introducing a resolution… to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar said in comments published late Tuesday. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”
  • Omar was the subject of chants of “Send her back! Send her back!” at a Trump rally late Wednesday, which the Washington Post says “raises new concerns of intolerance.”
  • On Twitter, ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt calls the chants “the sound of illiberalism, intolerance.”


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