Israeli newspaper Haaretz has become one of the great journals of the world, fearlessly reporting the effects of the occupation. But a new German owner appears determined to radically shift its focus. An insider writes:
A new German owner has purchased Haaretz and a “Putsch is being carried out among reporting staff,” in the most important and liberal Zionist paper in Israel. According to inside sources, the new owner has carried out a rough, sitting room survey that revealed that “the occupation doesn’t sell newspapers” and they are therefore concentrating on the business world (ie. The Marker). Twilight Zone, Gideon Levy’s regular Friday column, has been scrapped, Amira Hass has been degraded to freelance on half salary, Meron Rapaport has been fired and Akiva Eldar has lost at least one half page a week.
The paper frequently allowed journalists critical of the Israeli occupation to publish articles that exposed the reality of the occupation to be exposed to the Israeli population and was circulated around the world. The new editorial direction is disturbing news. Haaretz was one of the few decent Israeli media outlets and showed that in Israel there was some respect for freedom of the press and critical discussion. This is a repeat of the situation when Conrad Black bought the Jerusalem Post and hired an Israeli censor to be publisher. The decent journalists all quit in protest, including Benny Morris back when he still had a moral conscience.
It reflects a more disturbing trend. Norman Finkelstein was recently denied entry into Israel and the West Bank. Bishop Desmond Tutu was denied entry into Israel too. Prominent Palestinian journalists are routinely denied exit visas by the Israelis to leave the Occupied Territories to go on speaking tours and a group of Palestinians students from Gaza were also recently denied exit visas to attend American universities after being granted Fulbright Scholarships from the American Government.
It appears that the Israelis are closing down many if not all of the sources of critical information coming out of Israel.