Monday, July 01, 2024

Avishai Raviv and the Israel Media, 1997-98

The following article was submitted for publication to the Jerusalem Post in November 1997 but was not accepted. A second article on the subject "The Complicity and the Conspiracy" was published by the paper the following year. The two form one though outlook and we have decided to post the year-old article to complement the second.


by Yisrael Medad

The recently released Shamgar Commission’s secret section details the negligence of the electronic media as a contributory factor to Raviv’s "success".

The report blames specifically the television for being engaged, in part, in the creation of a virtual reality of a right-wing "incitement campaign".

"Eyal", the report states, referring to Avishai Raviv’s fictitious skeleton crew, "existed for all intents only in Raviv’s pronouncements and via the coverage provided him by the television".

The electronic media failed. The public were cheated of the truth.

The commission directly addressed one unique instance when TV’s Channel One broadcast a "swearing-in ceremony" in September 1995. In the fourth section of chapter four, on page 28, a clear charge of guilt is made when the commission’s members write:

"...all during that time, [Raviv] continued his connections with the media in order to portray Eyal as an existing group and achieved the collaboration of the television when it broadcast a swearing-in ceremony, that was actually a staged event, and anyone who was present should have been aware that it was nothing but a staged affair".

Media consumers, we now know, were, to a large degree, fed misinformation. Raviv sought coverage that would justify himself in his eyes and those of his General Security Services handlers.

The media were interested in the situation because it was good film footage. Each exploited each other. But someone of responsibility in the GSS, and ultimately, someone in the political overview echelon, let developments get out of hand.

Raviv was permitted by his handlers to move fringe actions, in themselves initiated by Raviv, to center stage by titillating reporters and cameramen with material they could not pass up.

Raviv was shown instructing teenagers in the art of urban guerrilla warfare;

Planning an armed break-in to the Orient House;

Patrolling, in a violent fashion, the alleyways of Hebron.

Praising Barukh Goldstein for murduring arabs worshipers in Hebron.

No one, though, thought to take a deeper look and focus their lenses on Raviv himself.

His initial taking the credit for the killing of an Arab in Halhul early in September 1995 was widely reported.

So, too, was the supposed links with the Hamas.

Recalled into service in 1993, he was ordered him to paint anti-peace process slogans on walls.

Raviv called for Rabin’s death while being paid by the government.

Somehow, the media accepted his actions as "normal" or as understandably representative of the Right.

The media cannot now avoid its own need to undergo a process of accounting. The media surrendered its professional duties to get a story which fitted a certain mold it felt comfortable with. That mold was retold by the Michael Karpin propaganda film produced for the "We Shall Not Forget" society which highlighted the incitement campaign while conveniently ignoring Raviv. And that mold, one can suspect, was fed by personal ideological persuasions of media persons.

Not one investigative reporter or program producer was intrigued enough to go after Raviv. Even after Israel’s Media Watch filed a criminal complaint against the Israel Broadcasting Authority for transmitting that "swearing-in ceremony", we as well as the subject were treated with disdain. What the late Law Faculty Dean of Tel Aviv University and the former President of the Supreme Court considered a staged event, was presumed an aberration.

We, media consumers, are owed an apology. Our right to know was harnessed to an out of focus approach by many media persons. The time has come to clear up matters if they are to fully regain our trust as commentators of the political scene.

Yisrael Medad is director of Israel’s Media Watch

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The Conspiracy and the Complicity

by  Yisrael Medad, Executive Director, Israel's Media Watch,

November 12, 1998

The decision of Israel’s Attorney-General, Elyakim Rubinstein, to press criminal charges dealing, in part, with an orchestrated "swearing-in" ceremony supervised by General Security Services (GSS) agent Avishai Raviv, was long overdue.  It was three years ago that Israel's Media Watch (IMW) first brought to public attention the probability that Raviv's performance was staged, perhaps in collusion with the TV’s Channel One film crew.  And today, IMW is still concerned over the role then played by the electronic media in the coverage of the Raviv/Eyal escapades.

Rubinstein's decision, courageous as it was in the face of opposition from within the State Prosecutor's Office and the criticism of left-wing politicians,  does not adequately deal with the issue of possible complicity that existed between the media and the political agenda of the previous government.

Ami Ayalon, current GSS director, admitted to the government last year that the Prime Minister’s bureau was notified a few days after the ceremony was broadcast that it was "a sham, a double deception also on behalf of the television".  Former A-G Michael Ben-Yair has also gone on record that the footage was a hoax.  Thus, the sharp criticism by such left-wing political figures as Amnon Rubinstein, Yossi Sarid, Ori Orr and Shimon Peres that Rubinstein is providing succor to those who would believe in a conspiracy theory in connection with Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, should be judged as self-serving in the extreme.

Avishai Raviv was implanted into the nebulous area of right-wing fringe groups.  Ever since late 1987, when he was 21 years old, he has been a paid employee of the state of Israel.  But what exactly was he paid to do?  What was his mission? One cannot avoid the nasty suspicion concerning the GSS motives when one reflects more closely on just what the Raviv Affair is truly all about.

According to the Shamgar Commission Report, an intrinsic part of Raviv's job was the perpetration of violent and criminal deeds.  He engaged in assault, spouted racist invective, battered Arabs, damaged property, solicited minors to commit illegal acts and, ironically, lied to his handlers.  As part of his cover, he married and then, psychologically and physically, abused his spouse until she divorced him.  He was constantly excused for his behavior and, following stern talks, repeatedly rehired even after he assumed responsibility, as leader of the Eyal organization, for the murder of an Arab in Halhul in September 1995.

As the Shamgar Report makes clear, Raviv was engaged not only in violence but in provocation.  The report notes that "his handlers even chose to order him to write graffiti against the peace process". In any normal society, his employers would be chastised for moral corruption in serving a partisan political direction.  Despite the recent interviews of GSS officers, Raviv’s main task was the promotion of an image, the image of a wild, anti-democratic, felonious and outlaw ideology.   And, with GSS prodding, and the willing cooperation of central Israel media personnel, that image took hold.

The media, especially the electronic media, with its demand for "action", for pictures and scandal, alighted upon Raviv.  His ceremonies, his camps for arms training and his military-style exercise in preparation for the "conquest" of the Orient House broadcast on TV’s Channel One and Two, became a focus of attention.  Those scenes locked into the public’s consciousness.  As British media observer Patrick Birkinshaw has written, "TV represents the most immediate and effective mass persuader and conveyor of information in our culture".  And Raviv was a TV star.

Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Eitan Oren, a reporter for the weekly round-up program, "Yoman", had already been suspended for planning a staged item back in 1988.  His September 22, 1995 clip of Raviv’s gang was the highlight of media self-enticement.  As the Shamgar Report states: "[the clip] was a performance, for anybody who was present at the site must have been aware that it was a fake" (page 28).  Eitan’s professionalism, it would appear, failed him.  His personal agenda overrode ethical judgment for, it seemed, he was convinced that he was serving a higher principle: combating the right-wing.

Oren, his editor, Yisrael Segal, ITV director Yair Stern and IBA director-general Mordechai Kirschenbaum all sought to deny what everyone else perceived: Israel's state-supervised television channel was acting in complicity, willingly or otherwise, to convince the viewers that what they were seeing was truth, when it wasn't.

Whether or not with malice aforethought, the media took a true outsider with no real support or representative status and with the help of millions of TV screens, placed Raviv, now the epitome of the "extreme right", in everyone’s living rooms and in their minds and thoughts.  One cannot deny the atmosphere of antipathy and wrath directed against Rabin and his policies at the time.  But, for months, if not years, the outstanding and dominant example and role model of right-wing "incitement" was Avishai Raviv, media star and GSS agent provocateur, paid out of public funds.

The bandied about conspiracy theory should not be whether the GSS staged Rabin’s assassination.  Rather it is that the GSS may have crossed the lines of democratic norms.  The GSS is now perceived as having lent itself as a weapon of the Labor-Meretz coalition against a massive public protest campaign.  In this, the media was willingly compliant.

If there was actual complicity by the GSS and media elements to aid and abet Raviv’s illegal activities may be difficult to ascertain.  Raviv’s trial, if there is to be one, will be conducted behind closed doors.  But, as Raviv’s defenders are now aware, no locked door can for too long suppress the truth. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

July 13, 2024: Fox News Anchor Trace Gallagher with guests (Kaylee Mcghee White and Aaron Cohen) elaborated on Dems. conduct vis-a-vis anti-Israel riots. And the fact that Democrat elected Alvin Bragg dismissed the charges against "palestine" violent rioters on Columbia University. As well as the leftists attitude at the "free palestine" (genocidal) "from the river to the sea," shouts.