Monday, September 26, 2016

Careful When a Journalist 'Explains' Something to You

Here's a description of the latest incident in which Binyamin Netanyahu is portrayed in a scandalous fashion, a descritpion which I think is fair :

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu gave interviews to Israeli television channels from New York....One of the issues raised during the interviews had to do with values. Netanyahu was asked if he regretted the phone call he had made to Charlie Azaria, the father of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is on trial for manslaughter after being filmed shooting a seriously wounded Palestinian terrorist to death in Hebron. He replied that he had no regrets.
 Channel 2's Udi Segal asked him if he had telephoned parents of other soldiers who allegedly disobeyed the army's orders, and Netanyahu replied: "No, but I did call many parents who were in distress over the fact that their sons had been killed or had gone missing."

But then the writer, Nahum Barnea, "explains" the scandal:

The comparison between the parents of a soldier who is on trial for manslaughter and the parents of missing soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul is outrageous, not least because of the unbridgeable abyss between fighters who sacrificed their life for the state and a soldier accused of a serious crime. It is outrageous because of the abyss separating between the parents...And it's outrageous because it offers Israelis in general, and those who serve in the army in particular, a distorted value system which must not be accepted. Soldiers are not children. They are adults,

However, it is Barnea making a bad comparison.

Netanyahu was asked about making a phone call to relieve distress of a parent who is concerned his child, while in uniform, is perhaps not being treated fairly, in a lawful fashion or, because of the situation the parent finds himself in, physically. medically, economically or psychologically.

Let's not forget that in that phone call to the soldier on trial, the Prime Minister did not identify with the soldier's action but informed the father that he must trust the system.  

“I have full faith in the IDF and its chief of staff, and that I think you, too, should have faith in the commanders and examination, just as the people of Israel need to stay united around its army. We only have one army, with many more challenges ahead of us,” Netanyahu added. 

If anyone, it was the former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon who injected a prejudicial tone into the public discourse, saying then

when someone has his hands up, or is already neutralized, that’s when you arrest,” he added. “Whoever supports these kinds of acts [the soldier’s] is damaging the values of the Israel Defense Forces.”

in what was a blatant attempt to subvert justice and interfere with the future trial and the then on-going investigation.

But the media went into a shark frenzy, Yedioth Ahronot plastered the above column on page 1 and Netanyahu had to clarify 

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a clarification on Sunday, in which Netanyahu stated, “I am sorry if my words were misunderstood.” He continued to say that “In no way did I compare the suffering of bereaved families—a suffering I am very familiar with—to that of other parents who are also suffering. There is no comparison and can be no comparison.”
Haaretz went further, of course:

Prime minister openly supports Elor Azaria and demonstrates empathy toward his family, even if it's seen as challenging the military justice system.

wrote Amos Harel and Gili Cohen.

Netanyahu, declares the first principle of Israel journalism, is guilty.

The second principle is he can never be correct.

And if he isn't guilty and is correct, then the third principle is that he must be doing it for an ulterior reason.


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