Anti-reform protests more dangerous to Israel than BDS, say Likud officials

The charge was made in reaction to local media complaining that the prime minister interviews only on foreign news shows and not locally.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Officials in the Likud party reacted Tuesday to media complaints that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives interviews only to foreign news services.

According to the officials, the Israeli leader must counteract the massive anti-judicial reform protests, which, they say, endanger the country more than BDS does.

Channel 12’s Amit Segal tweeted that the officials, who remained unnamed, told him that “Netanyahu interviews abroad in order to repair the tremendous damage to Israel inflicted there by the leaders of the protest, damages greater than those of the BDS movement.”

The movement advocates boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel until it capitulates to the maximalist Palestinian demands for a state, including the right of return that would ultimately destroy the Jewish state. It has chalked up a few victories over its 18 years of existence, mostly in the cultural field, as its activists continue to pressure entertainers not to perform in Israel, and in academia, with hundreds of university professors signing anti-Israel and stating they would not carry out research with Israeli colleagues.

Israel has spent millions of dollars to combat their rhetoric and convince others of their bedrock antisemitism. More than 30 U.S. states have passed anti-BDS laws in recent years as a result.

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According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu has been interviewed 21 times in the foreign media since his latest ascension to office, while only giving three interviews to locals. Two of them were to the right-leaning Channel 14 and one to The Jerusalem Post, the last of which was in June.

The spurned press has written that Netanyahu prefers to talk to those who allow him to state his views without interruption or difficult follow-up questions.

“Netanyahu’s interviews abroad about Israel’s internal issues allow him, more than once, to be inaccurate in his words, and sometimes even to add ‘alternative facts’ to the Israeli reality,” which the local media would never accept, Haaretz said on Wednesday. Netanyahu’s attitude shows “disdain for the media in Israel and its role in democracy,” it claimed.

Israel Hayom ran an op-ed on Wednesday, titled, “It’s high time Netanyahu gave the Israeli media an interview,” asking, “Why is it that Jennifer and Jimmy from Arkansas get to watch the Israeli prime minister answer challenging questions on the crisis in Israel, but Yael and Amir from Gedera have to settle for a 40-second video?”

It is not news that the prime minister avoids the local press much more than his predecessors, in general only bestowing lengthy face-time to journalists before elections.

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Netanyahu spokesman Topaz Luk put it simply in a podcast in December, telling former journalist Nadav Perry, “The American media lets you talk. You start a sentence and finish it. Israeli journalists have to prove something. When they sit in front of the demon Netanyahu, they have to stab him.”

He also knows, Luk added, that the Israeli public will hear his views this way as well, as the local press will report on what he says abroad in English.