Josef Olmert

Atilla Somfalvi saves the dignity of Israeli press

I wonder if the name Atilla Somfalvi means anything to more than just a handful of the readers of TOI. Well, in order to maintain full transparency, I do not know him. Never met him, never exchanged anything in writing with him, but I know of him, being the chief political correspondent of YNET, which is my favorite website in Israel. Not because I subscribe to their politics, which is dictated by the parent newspaper, Yedioth Aharonot, a well-known anti Bibi Netanyahu influential news outlet. Just a habit, and old habits, as we know, die hard.

I have no sense about Atilla’s politics, whether Left Wing , or Center Left [forget about Right Wing in Ynet…], but as of today, he joins the short list of my media heroes. He interviewed on Ynet TV, an Arab MK, Basil Gattas his name, who simply lied in live broadcast about the circumstances of an incident in Afula, in which an Arab woman holding a knife, threatening a soldier, was shot in the leg. Gattas claimed that she was killed — a blatant lie — but Somfalvi did not take it lightly. No political correctness on his part, he simply told the dangerous inciter, who enjoys parliamentary immunity in the ”Apartheid State” [surely, my readers understand that I am being cynical here], that he is a liar and inflamer and cut him off.

Poor Atilla, as he may be taken to task by the leftist media critiques, who are not likely to forgive Somfalvi for his audacity to call an Arab MK a liar, a title which is mostly reserved in large segments of the Israeli press to Right Wing MKs, particularly those who support the settlers .

Poor Atilla? Not really, because he proved himself a journalist of integrity and principles. See what is the climate in Israel these days, that we need to praise a journalist for simply standing up to a dangerous man, whose words and deeds are a direct invitation to murder Jews. This man, MK Gattas, is a member of the Arab list in the Knesset, a list which got thousands of Jewish votes, people who reject Jewish Nationalism as they said and wrote, so they voted for an ultra-nationalist Arab party. People who reject, so they said and wrote, any display of ”Jewish religious fanaticism”, so they voted for a party advocating Muslim fanaticism.

Many of these Jews are represented in the media in a way that is completely disproportionate to their numbers in Israel’s society at large. This is not a new phenomenon, rather an old one, but a bad one nevertheless. I do not like Jingoistic press, and there some in the Israeli press who are guilty of that. Jingoism in that case, in our current climate, is to blame ALL Arabs, even ALL Arab MKs. Jingoism is to incite against Arabs as if it is within their culture to stab Jews in the back. But it is also Jingoism to side with the haters, the inciters, those who want a civil war in this country between ALL Jews and ALL Arabs.

The sad truth is that many Arab MKs do exactly that — they repeat the performance of the Higher Arab Committee in the Mandatory period, they are today’s Grand Mufti disciples. They do not deserve any free lunches in the Israeli press, and finally came the one, Atilla Somfalvi, who did what had to be done a long time ago. Remember the name — HE will not be a candidate to any prize by journalists without borders, or even any school of journalism in the US, clearly not being praised by too many
of his Israeli colleagues, but he deserves the kudos of all those who care for the truth, and are not afraid to be pro-Israel
in Israel itself…

Crazy world that this is how it is, but we live in strange times, in which nothing can be taken for granted anymore. KO LEHAI TO ATILLA SOMFALVI!

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina