In an open letter to prospective subscribers on Tuesday, Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken dispelled once and for all any doubts about the newspaper’s political bias.
By signing up, Shocken told readers, “you will become a partner in the ongoing effort to shape Israel as a liberal and constitutional democracy that cherishes the values of pluralism and civil and human rights. You will become a partner in actively supporting the two-state solution and the right to Palestinian self-determination, which will enable Israel to rid itself of the burdens of territorial occupation and the control of another people.”
Although Haaretz’s circulation is as low as a 6.1% market share of Israeli print media according to market research carried out for the last half of 2013, its influence undeniably extends beyond such numbers. It is used and often quoted by foreign journalists, commentators and political figures, who tend to share the publication’s worldview.
Commenting on the letter, the media watchdog Honest Reporting charged on Tuesday that the newspaper “plays a major role in the demonization of Israel” as the international media makes use of articles in its pages which are bent on showing the country in the worst possible light.
HR cited Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy for manipulating an opinion poll to “prove” that Israel was an apartheid state; and correspondent Amira Hass who “brazenly defended Palestinian stone throwing even if it could cause Israeli fatalities.”
“Schocken’s appeal reveals that Haaretz is striving not for objective and accurate reporting but for promoting a political and campaigning agenda. It is incumbent, therefore, that the foreign media see Haaretz as a political entity rather than a primary news source. Even more so than Haaretz, foreign journalists should refrain from promoting their own political agendas when reporting on Israel. Using Haaretz as a cover for biased reporting is unacceptable,” concluded HR.