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Friday, October 07, 2011

What diplomatic tsunami?

Have any of you figured out what happened to the 'diplomatic tsunami' that Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned would hit us in the wake of the 'Palestinian' effort to gain admission to the UN? Nili Ben Gigi and Yisrael Medad try to figure it out.
Israeli media turned Barak’s statement into an agenda. In May, in this newspaper’s weekend magazine, David Harris- Gershon wrote, with a bit of hyperbole, of a “crippling fear of September’s UN General Assembly” and predicted “that, with help from the prime minister, Barak’s self-fulfilling ‘diplomatic tsunami’ prophecy may actually come true.”

He was not alone. For half a year the media rallied itself behind the “tsunami” image.

Headlines, questions from interviewers, panel discussions, expert comment and op-eds all were linked to the upcoming September tsunami.

No matter which channel or which page, the media consumer found him/herself all but consumed by the media wave.

On May 8, one headline referred to a “legal tsunami.”

Haaretz columnist Aluf Benn described Netanyahu as falling into a diplomatic trap in April.

An editorial in that newspaper on August 9 pictured Israel’s government as “hysterical.”

On September 15, Ari Shavit, also in Haaretz, stated, “uncontrollable violence would break out in the territories.”

Inexorably, panic was being generated. Fears of Arab-initiated violence and Israel’s failure were heightened. Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon tried to stem the surge of bias in a Ynet interview on July 11, saying “... there is a series of scare tactics being used from within the coalition” but he was a lone voice, outside the media frame.

The media scare campaign reached it climax in the weeks preceding the actual events.


And what, in the end, was the public’s opinion after the supposed tsunami failed to materialize? A DAHAF poll that appeared in Yediot Aharonot on September 30 registered 66 percent as believing there will never be peace with the Palestinians.

Seventy-six percent considered Netanyahu’s speech to be good, with less than 10% holding a negative view.

A Dialogue poll for Haaretz had 41% satisfied versus 45% unsatisfied with Netanyahu’s performance at the UN.

Asked how they felt watching Netanyahu’s UN address, 40% expressed pride, 21% hope, only 13% expressed frustration.

It would be hard to dispute Moshe Arens’ comment, published on September 28 in Haaretz: “It turns out that the tsunami predicted to hit Israel in the month of September went the way of so many other predictions that have been made about the Middle East in recent years.”

In retrospect, we again note that Israel’s media set an agenda – a campaign to force Israel’s government to provide concessions to the Palestinian Authority in return for negotiations. Even after the Palestinian move failed miserably, Yediot Aharonot was not willing to concede Netanyahu’s success; rather their headline screamed that Netanyahu was returning to a hopeless situation.

The same type of agenda-setting occurred during the expulsion from the Gaza Strip and north Samaria. What is surprising is that the public, which should by now be well aware of the media’s predominantly undemocratic attitude, does not respond. It is high time the public demands accountability, especially from the public media outlets.
Indeed. Barak ought to be held accountable as well.

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At 9:58 AM, Blogger Batya said...

Considering what I see and hear in Yafiz, Shaar Binyamin, where I deal with Arabs all the time, they don't want any change in the status quo. They enjoy the varied benefits of the State of Israel.


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