Media blog

“The Naked King”: Tzvi Yehezkeli and “Allah Islam”

Channel 10's flagship program was full of mistakes and distortions
27 September 2012

 

Watching the whole series strengthens the suspicions which arose following the first episode: Channel 10 and Tzvi Yehezkieli (channel 10's commentator on Arab affairs) adopted a language of manipulation that turned the entire series to careless and biased journalistic work and a mixture of distortions, serving to strengthen the ignorance and fears which fuel hate. Only one thing was missing: the facts.

 


 

In our last analysis, which we published after the first broadcast of "Allah Islam", we showed a series of mistakes and manipulations which turned the first episode into careless and biased journalistic work. We could have done the same thing with the other episodes, but we chose to wait until we had seen the entire series. Our disturbing conclusions are below.

"Allah-Islam": An Example of Deception

Yehezkieli's central claims in the "Allah-Islam" series were clear and disturbing, and kept repeating themselves. According to these claims, Muslims will soon become a majority in Europe, are unwilling to assimilate to their surroundings, and do not reject the use of violence in order to achieve their goal: To impose a Muslim way of life on Europe. This is supposedly a genuine threat to the Western way of life.

As the prizewinning British-Canadian journalist Doug Saunders wrote in his new book The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? these claims and similar ones have become the basis of a wide-ranging conversation regarding relations between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority in the West. Today, the influence of this idea on politics is deep in many European countries. But, according to Saunders, this discussion is not supported by logic and facts, but on instilling fear, ignorance, and encouraging the hatred of migrants, exactly like what happened with earlier waves of migration to Europe. And this is exactly what Channel 10 and Tzvi Yehezkeli chose to do – to bring to Israeli viewers a concoction of distortions, which strengthen fear and hate. What were lacking were the facts.

Demographics

First let's hand the microphone to Tzvi Yehezkeli: "In 2050 most European countries will have a Muslim majority", "An important recommendation to whoever wants to travel to classic Europe in the future – learn Arabic."

But the reality is completely different. 3.2 percent of the EU population is Muslim, and in the whole of Europe (including Albania, Russia, Bosnia, and the Caucasus), it is 7.2 percent. According to recent assessments by experts, at its peak in 2050, the number of Muslims in the EU will reach 8 percent, and in the whole of Europe 10 percent. A Muslim majority is not predicted in a single European country.

Essentially, the natural growth of Muslims in Europe has gone into constant decline over the last few years, and according to forecasts is expected to be the same as the natural growth of the rest of the population over the coming decades – with the implications of that for family structure, women's rights, and use of contraception.

But Yehezkieli is not confused by the facts. In the third episode of the series he opened with the following warning: "In Holland there are 180,000 Muslims – 24 percent of the population." Essentially he is talking about one single percent of the population of more than 16 million people, but like we said... facts.

Integration

The second major claim of the series touches on the unwillingness of Muslims to integrate with their surroundings. Sentences like "they live like it's a different state", "struggle over the rule of law" and "extraterrestrial enclaves" accompanied the entire series. But the reality is different.

The biggest and most wide-ranging survey on the integration of Muslims in Europe was done by the polling giant Gallup. The results of the poll are incredible, and completely contradict the impression left by Yehezkieli's program – Muslims in Europe want to integrate into wider society, are patriots of the countries in which they live, and are opposed to political violence.

Take, for example, the fact that the level of identifying with the country in which they live is higher than the local population. The faith of Muslim citizens in the rule of law, the media and the government, is generally higher than for the veteran population. In addition, the desire of Muslims to live in mixed neighborhoods with people from different religions is significantly higher than the general population – only a small minority, between 6 and 17 percent, prefer to live in their own neighborhoods.

The results of Gallup's poll are supported by many other surveys, which show that most Muslims in England, for example, support changing Sharia law so that it matches Western reality; 79 percent of British Muslims are ready to consider joining the British army, etc.

Terror

The third episode in the series was simply called 'Terror'. Its accompanying subtitle was "Terror Activists in the Heart of the West". Yehezkieli spoke about "a chain of terror attacks", about "the growth of terror cells" and about "Jihadist terror activists". From the episode one could easily be left with the impression that the Muslims were planning no less than what Yehezkieli called "A battle – which is now a tectonic battle".

And the facts?

According to a report by Europol – EU police – in 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, there was not a single act of terror by Jihadists against European targets (in contrast to 110 terror attacks for separatist reasons, in the main by the Basque organization ETA and the Irish organization RIRA). Essentially, the number of arrests for being part of a Jihadist organization is on the decline over the last few years in Europe, and constitutes less than a quarter of terror-related arrests on the continent. More than half of the people arrested for these offences are not EU citizens. We are talking about the arrest of less than 50 EU Muslims citizens suspected of terror connections – mostly for financing or incitement. That's 0.000001 percent of Muslims on the continent. Truly a tectonic battle.

According to the Gallup poll, which checked the level of support among European Muslims for terror and political violence, it became clear that the support of Muslim citizens for political violence and for harming citizens is tiny. In every country that was checked apart from France, it is lower than the support of the rest of the population for political violence.

About Two Conflicts

The word 'conflict' is the basis of the entire series. The clearest conflict is between Muslims and Westerners, between religious and secular, between human rights and Islam. This axis, upon which the series relies, is well known to every Israeli. And here too, in Israel, there is no shortage of support for the concept of a clash of civilizations.

In the last episode of the series Yehezekieli took pains to bring the background conflict – Israel vs. Palestine – to the center. After three episodes demonizing Muslims in Europe, without any foundation in the facts, the last episode deals with anti-Semitism and anti-Israel demonstrations. Essentially, Yehezkieli drew connections between right-wingers in Israel and racists in Europe, who have already been cooperating for quite some time.

In addressing anti-Semitism Yehezkieli proclaims that "since World War II Jews have never been under such threat in Europe...the threat today is mainly from the Muslim minority." Here too we see that most of Yehezkieli's "facts" are figments of his imagination.

According to the annual report of the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitism in Europe is higher in countries like Hungary, Poland and Spain – where there are hardly any Muslims. According to the World Jewish Congress, in 2011, the last year for which there are statistics available, the number of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide is on the decline – mainly because of a steep decline in Western Europe. The WJC's main concern is about the rise in strength of the far-right in Europe – the same far-right who were prominent in Yehezkieli's interviews. And, if that is not enough, in our earlier summary we showed that in the last few years Islamaphobia is more common than anti-Semitism.

The second conflict is concealed. It is a conflict between professionalism and the drive for higher ratings and popularity - between the media which tries to bring its citizens a true picture of the world and the media which creates a fabricated and threatening picture of the world in the hope that this will bring higher ratings. In this conflict there was a knock-out. Yehezkieli and Channel 10 chose, knowingly, to distort facts in order to achieve higher ratings. In the end they won, receiving 20 percent average viewing figures for the episode. But media professionalism lost out, and so did we.

Channel 10 is seen by the public as honest and critical. This series – which distorts the facts and misleads the viewers, raises difficult questions about the channel's professional fairness. For some reason, media critics and colleagues in the media profession have not raised a voice against this blunt breach of professionalism.

Media Failure

Essentially, most of the Israeli media rushed to praise Yehezkieli for his work. Complimentary articles were published in Haaretz, Channel 2, Maariv, Walla, and Radio without Pause (which broadcasted an interview with Yehezkieli before every interview), and others. The different headlines took pleasure in "a series with television and documentary value", among other superlatives. The little criticism which did appear, for example Ariana Melamed on YNet and Ori Aren in Akhbar Ha'Ir, were published after the first episode and mainly dealt with the fear which the program created. But this criticism was quickly overshadowed by the stream of praise that was heaped upon Yehezkieli.

This is a classic example of the "Naked King'. The biggest channel's commentator on Arab affairs did careless and biased journalist work. The media rushed to praise him without checking the facts, even though most of the journalists in Israel, together with tens of thousands of citizens, read Keshev's research which was published after the first episode, and presented the major mistakes. Instead of being criticized, the failed journalist received collective praise from his colleagues. Instead of receiving public scrutiny for his deception and incitement, he received praise. The king is naked, but hardly anyone has the courage to declare it.

 

Written by Daniel Argo and Shiri Iram, Keshev

 

Update: December 17, 2012

After the first post on "Allah Islam" Keshev requested a response from Tzvi Yehezkieli and Channel 10. The first response was received on October 17, after the publication of the present post, in the form of a letter from Oren Rosen, Channel 10 News Director (who since then has left the position). In the letter, Rosen raised a series of claims (some of which were published on Walla before we had the opportunity to respond) which he claims contradict Keshev's research and he even threatened to take legal steps against the organization.

Keshev continues to stand behind all of its claims, and on November 22nd send a detailed letter of response to Channel 10 news, refuting all of the claims in Rosen's letter. Until now there has not been a further response from Channel 10.

 

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