Israel & the Media, or A few likely unrelated issues I hastily attempt to put into some context while using the free internet at Ben Gurion

You may recall Nicolas Sarkozy’s open-mic dis (‘liar’) of Bibi way back in November. Well, Netanyahu had a bit of an awkward media leak of his own in recent weeks.

Take it away, Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde:

‘You know, Steve, we have two main enemies’… And I thought he was going to talk about, you know, Iran, maybe Hamas. He said it’s The New York Times and Haaretz. He said they set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in The New York Times and Haaretz.

Both Bibi and Linde are now backtracking on the story, but the fact that it was reported as plausible speaks volumes. It is against the backdrop of these circumstances that I relate the following anecdote:

I visited Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut on Monday for the first time since I completed my year in Israel in 2006. I used a few free moments to access the wireless internet available on the grounds of the Yeshiva. I don’t know that the Yeshiva provides the internet, or to what extent it is responsible for what is available, but I immediately ran into the network’s filter, provided by ‘Internet Rimon’.

I first discovered the filter while trying to access sites like Youtube and Facebook – obvious examples of bitul Torah that didn’t surprise me at all (Ben Gurion blocks Youtube, I assume in an attempt to conserve bandwidth). But when I compulsively clicked on my bookmarks toolbar, I made an interesting discovery. The New York Times is blocked. Haaretz is blocked:

Even ynet is blocked.

Jerusalem Post is not blocked (though, to be fair, it loaded quite poorly given the overall quality of the internet connection):

I stopped my exploration there (because I really did only have a few moments).

Obviously, ‘Internet Rimon’ is not the Israeli government (as far as I know – so maybe not ‘obviously’) and internet filters are certainly not unique to Israel or Yeshivot. And given that ynet is also blocked, my feeling is that Rimon’s preference for JPost is a glitch of some sort.

But it’s interesting to note these anecdotes against the backdrop of Israel’s decline from 46th to 92nd on the Press Freedom Index in just the past three years (since 2009). I know it feels like he’s been around forever, but I’ll also mention that Bibi assumed his current office on the last day of March of that year.


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