SHIRI FISHMAN WRITES – On September 11, 2017 Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, embarked on a 10 day trip visiting foreign leaders in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. This marks the first time in the history of Israel that a sitting Prime Minister has ever visited South America. Netanyahu had previously expressed interest in strengthening the relationship between Israel and Latin America, not only in terms of politics and diplomacy, but also to increase prosperous trade.
Netanyahu spent only two days in Argentina, but in that short span of time met with the Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, where they discussed potential security, technology and trade agreements. The two leaders also signed a joint statement stating that the Foreign Ministry of Argentina will cede all confidential government archives in relation to the Holocaust. Netanyahu also had personal meetings with the President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, and later met with the Colombian President, Manuel Santos, in Bogota. Needless to say, the trip was monumental for Israel.
Netanyahu’s visit to South America was heavily covered by the Argentine, Mexican and Columbian media. However, in Israel there was little to no media coverage of Netanyahu’s historic trip. Israeli media has been criticized by the Israeli Prime Minister for being biased, a similar accusation by President Donald Trump who repeatedly insists that U.S. media is “fake news.” It’s no surprise then that most popular media in Israel is considered anti-Netanyahu and left wing. Reuters recently reported that Sara Netanyahu, wife of the Israeli Prime Minister, was even heard expressing to Trump and wife, Melania Trump, “The majority of the people of Israel, unlike the media, they love us.”
Following his return from South America, Netanyahu criticized the Israeli media on his Twitter page saying, “They don’t want you to know.” The “They” in Netanyahu’s statement was ambiguous and left unclear. However, it can be inferred that he was expressing the media’s unwillingness to disclose the truth. One Channel 10 correspondent responded to Netanyahu’s words as “cynical” and said that he personally covered a story about the trip and even sent the Prime Minister a congratulatory text message.
Currently, Netanyahu is facing investigations involving illicit gifts and backroom dealings that could cost him his position if found guilty. The media immediately responded to the investigation and was accused by Netanyahu for attempting to overthrow the conservative government through a media campaign that advocated that the attorney general indict him on a multitude of bogus charges. While popular Israeli news sources, such as the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, did briefly cover the trip to South America, the coverage was nothing compared to the extensive reporting on the current investigation against Netanyahu.