Talia Kainan

If it looks, smells, and tastes like it

Screenshot from Galit Distel Atbaryan's tweet
Galit Distel Atbrayan displaying news agencies we should be suspect of bias

Examining the Latest Moves by Our Government

There are many different markers of freedom, of a democratic society. Appropriately, there are specific markers of freedom of speech dwindling, certain government tactics we should take notice of, and concerning changes that we must always be wary towards.

A known marker of dictatorship is restricting free speech, and sowing distrust towards media that criticizes the government.

In Israel’s case, this isn’t so new – we have long distrusted the foreign media that often sides against Israel, or at the very least disliked it, but Galit Distel Atbaryan’s latest video “explaining” mindful consumption of media is a new low in our strained relationship with the rest of the West – to point out 2 of the 3 major news agencies (AP and Reuters) as “fake news” and liars is a hardcore dictatorship move. “You can’t trust outside media, get your news from a singular and controlled government created source.” Sounds suspicious.

Screenshot from Galit Distel Atbaryan’s tweet

Another legal change we should be wary about are steps that tip the scales of justice.

There have always been different standards for Jewish vs Arab terrorists, from policies of house demolishing to the treatment of Jewish suspects of terrorism in contrast to that of Palestinian suspects, but trying to outlaw Administrative detention for Jews (as suggested by Finance Minister Smotrich) or making it completely pick-and-choose (as Minister of National Security of Israel Ben Gvir is vying for) is not a good look. We as a nation are quickly losing our plausible deniability of equality when facing the law.

Another worrying front is condemning civilian partnerships that are non-violent and serve humanistic purposes. Many people dislike Jewish-Arab partnerships or talking about Arab victims of terrorism, but they don’t usually threaten to “blow up” a summer day-camp as MK Almog Cohen has. In a meeting in the Knesset, MK Cohen made it abundantly clear that he will not tolerate gestures of love, good will or finding common ground. This is our face to the world – threatening violence over the audacity to find mutual comfort in the loss of loved ones. A public representative treating a kids’ summer camp as a viable target for violence.

The critics of the government’s actions and outbursts have been demonized, labeled traitors and gatekeepers of the elite that wish to continue to oppress “second Israel” – Mizrahi Jews and those that are not part of the elite that controls the courts and media (in the words of notable supporters of the judicial reform such as Yinon Magal). As Noam Chomsky says: in free societies, criticizing corruption or the politics is not anti-state. It is totalitarian that criticizing policies is considered anti-state. He succinctly explained the idea in the documentary-style interview of him, Requiem For The American Dream: “If you criticize state power… You’re against the society, against the people.”

The current members of the coalition are known for having very strong media presence, using platforms like Twitter and even Tiktok to constantly blame previous politicians for current problems that need addressing, and to divert attention to issues they would rather debate when they are required to acknowledge an issue pertaining to their work. The notable outlier to this unfortunate rule is Moshe Arbel, the Minister of Interior and Minister of Health, who has spoken little about issues publicly and chosen to handle pressing matters the way we might expect a public servant to: by taking action and moving those under him to take care of problems long overdue.

In conclusion, a fair warning to those spending any time on the social media accounts of our current officials –

If it looks like questionable assertions, smells like dubious factuality, and tastes politically driven, be sure: it is government propaganda.

About the Author
Talia is currently a law student at Hebrew University and served in the International Branch of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. Born and raised in Jerusalem.
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