Yesterday was the first time that I ever watched Amit Segal live in the Channel 12 News studio panel discussion. Segal is an extremely popular (right wing) journalist. I follow him on Twitter and Telegram. I have seen him on the news reporting and giving his commentary (which is usually) on politics, seen clips of him getting into arguments with other speakers, but I have never watched Segal live. It was a treat.
The discussion between the participants was about a post that Segal wrote yesterday about the news coverage of what has been going inside of Israel over the last few days. In particular, the argument wasn’t about the rockets but the riots. In a nutshell: Yes, in Bat Yam Israeli Jews dragged innocent Arab from his car and beat him (on live TV). Yes, what they did was simply horrible and Segal spared no words on what should have happened to them. However, that one incident as horrible as it was doesn’t justify the asymmetric coverage given to this one particular crime. In Lod, Akko, and other places Arabs mobs have been rioting night after night, beating and attacking Israeli Jews, setting property on fire, destroying synagogues and more. Yet what one sees on the news has been Bat Yam, Bat Yam, and more Bat Yam.
Two people responded to Segal’s claim, journalist Ilana Dayan and former MK and Education Minister Rabbi Shai Peron. Neither disputed the claim that the coverage has been completely asymmetric, but they justified the lack of symmetry. Peron started his answer with a story. His daughter lives in Lod. The other night the missiles sirens went off. His daughter stayed in her apartment with her kids because she was more afraid of being in the bomb shelter with her Arab neighbors than she was of the bombs themselves. How about that.
Peron feels that the asymmetrical coverage is justified because “these are my people, they speak in my (religious) language, wear my religious clothing”. Meaning: I have to fix the problems in my community first. Dayan feels that since Israeli Jews are the majority, the excess coverage of Bat Yam is required. Israeli Jews are the ones setting the tone in the country, the coverage has to be on them.
Both of these answers left me dry, although Dayan’s’ left me even drier. Ilana Dayan, Rav Peron – you both said that you want Arabs completely integrated into Israeli society, that we have no choice but to understand that the barriers have to come down. That approach is excellent but you can’t say that and then demand that society ignore or turn away from or not give the same attention to those very Arabs. Dayan’s “we’re the majority” approach has an additional problem – what do you mean that we’re the majority? Maybe in the Tel Aviv area Jews are the majority but in the Galil we’re not the majority. In the Negev we’re not the majority. This approach of turning away from the rest of the country and only looking at Gush Dan is exactly why crime rampant in the Arab sector (among other problems).
Rav Peron and (especially) Ilana Dayan: you’re the people who determine the public discourse, what is being talked about. There are huge problems with the relations between Jews and Arabs, Arabs rights in Israel, integration, Arab society in Israel, the whole nine yards. No one denies that. However, none of those issues are going to be solved by turning our eyes away from them and only looking at ourselves. It isn’t all about us (Israeli Jews).