Facebook Feed

5 days ago

Yoram Ettinger
2023 Jewish demographic momentum in Israel: bit.ly/40qV0aV ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

4 weeks ago

Yoram Ettinger
Purim Guide for the Perplexed 2023: bit.ly/3ZdlxHY ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

4 weeks ago

Yoram Ettinger
אתגר מרכזי לביטחון לאומי: bit.ly/3xkSwh1 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

US and Israel Mass Media – Siamese Twins

In the US, the latest Gallup poll on public confidence in the US mass media – newspapers, radio and TV – documented a 41% trust when it comes to reporting the news fully, fairly and accurately. This is in comparison to 32% in 2016, 54% in 2002, 72% in 1976 and 68% in 1972 (which was the first Gallup media poll).

While Democrats overwhelmingly trust the mass media (69%), Republicans’ trust is very low (15%), and Independents’ trust is relatively low (36%).

Moreover, according to Gallup, while the trust in mass media is higher than the trust in Congress (37%), it is lower than the trust in the military (91%), Supreme Court (78%), organized labor (74%) and the Presidency (55%).

In Israel, the latest poll, published by the Israel Democracy Institute on Israeli public confidence in mass media, documented a 36% trust in mass media, compared with 24% in 2016, 52% in 2011, 38% in 2008 and 51% in 2004.

While Israel’s left-of-center overwhelmingly trusts the mass media (64%), Israel’s right-of-center resoundingly does not (16%).

Furthermore, while confidence in Israel’s media is higher than confidence in Israel’s political parties (14%), and similar to the confidence in Israel’s Executive and Legislature (30%), it is substantially lower than the confidence in Israel’s Defense Forces (90%; 41% among Israeli Arabs), Israel’s Presidency (71%; 37% among Arabs), Supreme Court (55%; 56% among Arabs) and Israel’s police force (44%; 38% among Israeli Arabs).

The Left-Right divergence of confidence in mass media highlights the intensifying political, ideological, social and cultural polarization, which has afflicted both the US and Israel.

In the US, the Left vs. Right cultural war was reflected by the coverage of President Trump’s July 4, 2020 speech at Mount Rushmore. While the New York Times (480,000 print circulation), Washington Post (255,000) and the Los Angeles Times (418,000) reported that “Trump uses Mt. Rushmore speech to deliver divisive culture war message” (NYT) and “At Mt. Rushmore, Trump exploits social divisions,” the Wall Street Journal (1 million print circulation) wrote that “Mr. Trump is trying to rally the country in defense of traditional American principles that are now under radical and unprecedented assault.”

In Israel, there is a similar divergence of opinion between the (opposing) coverage of Prime Minister Netanyahu by Israel’s main TV and radio stations, as well as Yedioth Achronot (the 2nd largest daily), on the one hand, and the (supportive) Israel Hayom (the largest daily), on the other hand.

The relatively low trust of the US and Israeli mass media has also shed light on the limitations of the clout and accuracy of mass media.  Also, with the advent of social media (including its facilitation of fake news), significantly less people consider mass media to be the fourth branch of government, the watchdog of democracy and a credible channel of information.

An increasing number of people consider mass media to be another player in the political arena.

For example, in 1948, the New York Times and Washington Post failed in their attempt – along with the State Department, Pentagon and CIA – to stop President Truman from supporting the establishment of a Jewish State on the flawed grounds that a Jewish state would join the Soviet Bloc, undermine US ties with the Arab world and access to Arab oil, and would be resoundingly obliterated by the surrounding Arab military forces.

However, according to the February 2020 annual Gallup poll of foreign countries’ favorability, Israel enjoys a 74% favorable opinion by the US public, notwithstanding the 72-year systematic criticism of Israel by the US “elite media.”  The Palestinian Authority enjoys a meager 23% favorability, despite its embrace by the “elite media.” Contrary to the misperceptions put forth by the New York Times and Washington Post, Israel has become a unique force-multiplying ally of the US, a battle-tested laboratory for the US armed forces and defense industries, and a close partner in the research and development of world-class commercial and military technologies.

Mass media’s dramatic fallibilities were exposed by the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, which was determined in defiance of mass media, exposing its mistrust by many Americans. Most of the US mass media underestimated the constituency’s frustration with the political, media and academic establishment; misread the state of mind of major segments of the population – especially those residing outside the major urban centers – and severely underestimated Trump as a legitimate presidential candidate.

Israel’s mass media was stupefied by the outcome of the 1977 election, which ended the domination of Israel’s Labor Party and catapulted Likud to power. The media was rebutted by the Israeli constituency in most subsequent election cycles, including the February, 2020 election.

Just like the US mass media, Israel’s mass media has been challenged by the constituency – and gravely misperceived – on a number of the most critical national security issues. For instance, in defiance of most people, much of the mass media has glorified Israel’s retreat to the indefensible pre-1967 ceasefire lines, supported substantial concessions to the Palestinians, a giveaway of the Golan Heights and uprooting Jewish settlements. Also, the mass media welcomed the 2010 eruption of the Arab Tsunami as if it really were an “Arab Spring,” a “march of democracy,” and a “youth and Facebook revolution,” while, in fact, the Arab Tsunami is still disrupting the highly turbulent Middle East.

Will the US and Israeli mass media resume their role as a provider of credible information, and reduce their role as another player in the political arena?

Will the mass media conclude the proper lessons from the erosion of their stature in the eyes of their active and potential consumers?

Will the mass media refrain from their frequent habit of sacrificing frustrating and inconvenient reality on the altar of convenient and oversimplified scenarios?




The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb

President Biden’s pressure and Israel’s Judiciary Reform

Israel’s proposed Judiciary Reform ranks very low on President Biden’s order of priorities, far below scores of pressing domestic, foreign and national security threats and challenges.

Therefore, he has not studied the various articles of the reform, but leverages the explosive Israeli domestic controversy as a means to intensify pressure on Israel, in order to:

*Gradually, force Israel back to the 1967 ceasefire lines;
*End Jewish construction and proliferate Arab construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank);
*Advance the establishment of a Palestinian state on the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which overpower the coastal sliver of pre-1967 Israel;
*Re-divide Jerusalem;
*Prevent game-changing Israeli military actions against Palestinian terrorists and Iran’s Ayatollahs.

Israel’s Judiciary Reform and US democracy

If the President and his advisors had studied the proposed reform, they would have noticed the Israeli attempt to adopt key features of the US democratic system, which would end the current situation of Israel’s Judiciary as Israel’s supreme branch of government. The reform aims to provide Israel’s Legislature and Executive branches with the effective authority (currently infringed by the Judiciary) to exercise the responsibility accorded to them by the constituency.

For example:

*Israeli Supreme Court Justices should not be appointed – as they are today – by a committee, which is controlled by Justices (who possess a veto power) and lawyers, but rather by a committee, dominated by legislators;

*The Attorney General and the Legal Advisors of Cabinet Departments should be appointed (and fired) by – and subordinated to – the Executive, not the Judiciary. Their role should be to advise, and not to approve or veto policy matters, as it is today. Their advice should not be binding, as it is today.

*Supreme Court Justices should not be empowered to overturn Basic Laws (Israel’s mini-Constitution).

*Supreme Court Justices should have a limited power to nullify and overturn legislation.

*Supreme Court Justices should decide cases according to the Basic Laws and existing legislation, and not resort to the reasonableness of the legislation (which is utterly subjective), as is the case today.

*The Supreme Court should not be able to overturn legislation by three – out of fifteen – Justices, as is the case today.

*The Supreme Court should be supreme to lower level courts, not to the Legislature and Executive, as it is today.

President Biden’s pressuring Israel

*President Biden’s pressuring Israel reflects the return of the US State Department to the center-stage of policy-making. The State Department opposed Israel’s establishment in 1948, has been a systematic critic of Israel since then, and has been consistently wrong on crucial Middle East issues.

*This pressure on Israel represents the multilateral and cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department establishment, in general, and Secretary Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan, in particular. This worldview espouses a common ideological and strategic denominator with the UN, International Organizations and Europe, rather than the unilateral US action of foreign policy and US national security. It examines the Middle East through Western lenses, assuming that dramatic financial and diplomatic gestures would convince Iran’s Ayatollahs and Palestinian terrorists to abandon deeply-rooted, fanatic ideologies in favor of peaceful-coexistence, enhanced standard of living and good-faith negotiation.  Middle East reality has proven such assumptions to be wrong.

*President Biden’s pressure mirrors the routine of presidential pressure on Israel since 1948 (except 2017-2020), which has always resulted in short-term tension/friction and occasional punishment, such as a suspension of delivery of military systems and not vetoing UN condemnations of Israel.

*However, since 1948, simultaneously with presidential pressure on Israel, there has been a dramatic enhancement of mutually-beneficial defense and commercial cooperation, as determined by vital US interests, recognizing Israel’s unique technological and military capabilities and growing role as a leading force and dollar multiplier for the US. Israel’s unique contribution to the US defense and aerospace industries, high tech sector, armed forces and intelligence has transcended US foreign aid to Israel, and has eclipsed US-Israel friction over less critical issues (e.g., the Palestinian issue).

*The current bilateral friction is very moderate compared to prior frictions, such as the Obama-Netanyahu tension over the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran; the US’ brutal opposition to Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors; the US’ ferocious resentment of Israel’s application of its law to the Golan Heights; the US’ determined opposition to the reunification of Jerusalem, and the renewal of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and Greater Jerusalem; and the US’ strong-handed pressure for Israel to withdraw to the suicidal 1947 Partition lines; etc.

*In hindsight, the US pressure on Israel was based on erroneous assumptions, which could have undermined vital US interests, if not for Israel’s defiance of pressure.  For example, Israel’s refraining from bombing Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors in 1981 and 2007 would have confronted the US and the world at-large with a potential nuclear confrontation in 1991 and a potential Syrian nuclearized civil war since 2011.

*Rogue Middle East regimes consider US pressure on Israel as an erosion of Israel’s posture of deterrence, and therefore an inducement to the intensified threat of terrorism and war, which gravely destabilize the region and undermine US interests (while advancing the interests of China, Russia and Iran’s Ayatollahs), threatening the survival of pro-US vulnerable oil-producing Arab regimes.

*Most Israeli Prime Ministers – especially from Ben Gurion through Shamir – defied presidential pressure, which yielded short-term friction and erosion in popularity, but accorded Israel long-term enhanced strategic respect. On a rainy day, the US prefers allies, which stand up to pressure, and are driven by clear principles and national security requirements.

*Succumbing to – and accommodating – US presidential pressure ignores precedents, overlooks Israel’s base of support in the co-equal, co-determining US Legislature, undermines Israel’s posture of deterrence, whets the appetite of anti-US and anti-Israel rogue regimes, and adds fuel to the Middle East fire at the expense of Israel’s and US’ national security and economic interests.

Support Appreciated





The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb