While many conservative Americans are frustrated with the establishment media over “fake news,” analogous resentments toward the press harbored by some Israeli nationalists boiled over during the Jerusalem Day Flag Day Parade.
Israeli police estimate that more than 70,000 people marched in the largely peaceful celebration on Sunday commemorating the reunification of East and West Jerusalem following the Six Day War.
As thousands of people walked through the Damascus Gate in the largely Arab-populated East Jerusalem to enter the Old City, some participants attacked the media by throwing water bottles.
The next day, Israeli police announced the arrest of two suspects in the attack on Kann reporter Iyad Harb. The public broadcaster was pepper-sprayed, beaten and had his phone stolen, i24 reported.
“The masked Jewish youths asked me to stop filming, and then they assaulted me with pepper spray or tear gas … then I fell to the ground, and they hit me on the head and back with sticks, and kicked me,” the reporter said.
Independent filmmaker Quique Kierszenbaum claimed he was pepper-sprayed by “a radical nationalist Israeli” and “beaten by a Israeli border policeman” during the march.
Some marchers made obscene gestures, and others tried to block the camera of this Just the News reporter. One demonstrator even attempted to take this journalist’s phone while she was filming.
An Israeli Democracy Index survey released in January showed that just 25% of Israelis trust the media, down from 32% in October 2020.
Most Israelis (55%) agreed that “the media in Israel describe the situation in the country as if it is much worse than it really is,” but responses vary by political ideology.
On the left, 25% of Israelis thought the media portrayed the situation as worse than reality, while 65% on the right thought so.
Americans’ confidence in the media is also declining. In fall 2021, a Gallup poll found that just 36% of Americans expressed a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in the media.
Much like in Israel, mistrust of the media in the U.S. was far higher on the right, with a mere 11% of Republicans expressing confidence in the media, compared to 68% of Democrats.
Aside from the frustration expressed by Israelis towards reporters during the march, there were also clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, adding to tensions that have seen more than a dozen Israelis killed in five terrorist attacks in 2022.
During the event Sunday, a group of Israelis yelled, “Death to Arabs” and “Let your village burn down,” while Arabs chanted, “Allahu akbar.”
Both sides attacked each other by throwing objects and reportedly using pepper spray.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security forces to “show zero tolerance for violence or provocations by extremist elements,” according to a press release from his adviser.
“The overwhelming majority of participants have come to celebrate, but unfortunately there is a minority that has come to set the area ablaze, take advantage of the government’s strong position against Hamas threats and trying to use force in order to ignite a conflict,” his office said after threatened violence in response to the flag march. “Therefore, all incidents of violence will be dealt with severely including prosecution.”