Avram Piha

Blurring the Point: Selective, Star-struck Coverage and its Aftermath

On Wednesday, February 11, Aharon Davidi passed away at the age of 84. Even though Davidi was a famed paratrooper whose leadership was key during the Suez War and Six Day War, his passing received little press coverage. My Israel, a right wing Zionist advocacy group, took issue with the quiet:

Aharon Davidi, one of the founders of the paratroopers, passed away tonight. He fought in the Independence Day war, retaliatory operations (1950s), the Suez War and the Six Day War. He was an Israeli hero who led generations of fighters under the mantra, ‘After me.’ A famous American singer also passed away that night from what seems like an overdose.


On Ynet, the most popular website in the country, the American singer was the standout article on the front page. Aharon Davidi – no article.


This doesn’t happen because of ‘left wing tendencies.’ This is a result of chasing ratings, of shallowness and a disengagement from Israeli heritage.


We’re not angry with the Press. We’re sad, and mainly, determined to change the current situation.

Within a day after My Israel’s post, Ynet ran a fitting tribute to Davidi, discussing the man’s many achievements. That should have been the story’s end. However, within a few days, Ha’aretz’s Avirama Golan wrote an article attacking My Israel’s handling of Davidi’s death. In her article, Golan admits that “Davidi’s death went by quietly” but slammed My Israel for comparing his death to Whitney Houston’s (the “famous American singer”) as “a baseless, manipulative sham.”

An important figure in Israel’s early military history passed away, and there was no coverage due to the concurrent passing of Whitney Houston. That seems to be My Israel’s main gripe – and even Golan, despite her inflammatory statements, admits that the attention to celebrities is something she “has trouble coming to terms with.” As Golan continues, the reader sees where her venom towards My Israel’s stance comes from: Their political stance, or as she coins it, “settler-style, which means rejiggering the Israeli ethos to conform with the settlers’ principles.”

Despite her earlier agreements with My Israel, Golan goes to great length to try and stain their work by highlighting their supposed distaste of Whitney Houston. She claims that My Israel “use Houston to tar the ‘leftist media’ with the whole array of worn images—rock, drugs and loose living.” In their post, they specifically said their unhappiness with Ynet was not due to political persuasions. Some of their issues with the media ignoring Davidi’s death are issues that many people, regardless of where they live, raise about today’s media: It publishes what sells.

Although one shouldn’t fault the media for covering Houston’s death, surely Davidi’s death should have been acknowledged. Had the article that came out a day later come out the day after his passing, My Israel probably would not have taken issue. They probably still would have been upset with the attention Houston’s death garnered compared to Davidi’s, but that was not their main gripe, as Golan wrongly claims. This is the world, as Golan accurately describes, we live in: “A day and age of celebrities and reality shows,” where the next generation of reporters and media personalities don’t “know who founded the Paratrooper Brigade, what the retaliatory raids were or who Israel’s war heroes were.”

Golan’s article continues with the hope that this “tarring” of the media isn’t accepted by most people, as she praises Houston: She “may not have left a huge stamp on music, she was a singer with a huge voice.” Golan was so eager to take a few shots at My Israel that she overlooked Houston’s record as the most awarded female artist of all time (per Guiness World Records), which surely qualifies as a “huge stamp.” Although I do agree with Golan’s point that My Israel’s description of Houston (“a famous American singer also passed away that night from what seems like an overdose”) was unnecessarily flippant, her need to insinuate that My Israel is against the right of Israelis “to mourn her, remember her and cling to her wonderful music” is equally unnecessary, misleading and highlights an obvious agenda.

My Israel wanted some coverage after the passing of a man they view as an Israeli hero – not zero coverage of Houston’s untimely passing. Their political leaning shouldn’t be the reason their stance on Davidi is denounced, nor a reason their valid concerns about the media’s attention to ratings (versus all that is newsworthy) should be ignored.