Bill moving ahead in Knesset to silence Israel's conservative newspaper
Start with a conflict of interest disclosure: I have been writing a regular weekly column for the newspaper Israel Hayom for two and a half years. Israel Hayom is apparently too successful for some people in Israel (being distributed for free helps, and having the deep pocket of Sheldon Adelson helps even more). William Mehlman writes in Mideast Outpost:
There’s a bill with an uncommon degree of bi-partisan support in the Knesset, Israel’s famously disputatious parliament, that would ban the distribution of free newspapers in the Jewish State, as well as newspapers that are not free but are regarded as “too cheap.” Its proponents, an unlikely group of bedmates, include representatives of the Left-leaning Labor and Justice Minister’s Tsipi Livni’s Hatnuah parties, Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas, Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Russian Yisrael Beitenu, (moving toward a breakup of its marriage with Likud) and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s religious national Zionist Bayit Yehudi.
They are conjoined, they declare, in an effort to “strengthen written journalism in Israel and fair conditions of competition between newspapers.” Eton Cabel, the Labor Party’s point-man on this crusade, may be excused for failing to imbue its “mission statement” with any additional clarity, but having been the moving force in silencing news service Arutz-7’s radio voice to 350,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, he is clearly an authority on “the threat to pluralism and democracy” posed by a medium bearing the wrong message.
The bill to ban free newspapers is kith and kin to an earlier proposed measure to bar newspaper ownership of any kind to a non-citizen of Israel. The target of both bills, bitterly opposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is Las Vegas-based, mega-billionaire international casino mogul and Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson, whose give-away Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom (“Israel Today”) climbed to the top rung of the Israeli circulation ladder virtually with its first issue in 2007 and has remained there ever since. Adelson, recently described by the New York Times’ eminence grise Thomas L. Friedman as a “crude right-wing pro-Israel extremist,” the personification of “everything that is poisoning our democracy and Israel’s today,” spends somewhere around $15 million a year on Yisrael Hayom, which takes little advertising, partly for the sheer pleasure of sticking it to pontificators like Friedman and Peter Beinart, who in the same New York Times lumped him with hate mongers Louis Farrrakhan and Mahmud Ahmadinejad for asserting that “there isn’t a Palestinian alive who wasn’t raised on a curriculum of hatred and hostility toward the Jews.” Mostly, however, Adelson says he started Yisrael Hayom as a counter to the predominantly left-oriented Israeli media, print and electronic….
Since when is protection of existing newspaper franchises a pubic good? Would the left get rid of Fox News Channel if they could? I do not worry about needing to eliminate MSNBC -- smart liberals are tuning out the constant whining of Chris Hayes, whiny Rachel Maddow, and the race baiting of every other anchor. Technological change has shaken up the newspaper business. Israel Hayom is a welcome addition to Israeli journalism. And I have a columnist to recommend to you.