Yediot Achronot, Israel’s largest circulation daily newspaper, fired this week one of the nation’s most popular progressive columnists, B. Michael (Michael Berizon). The writer is known for his satiric attacks on Israeli politicians and the Occupation. Considering his left-wing politics, it is interesting that he is also a religious Jew.
After writing for Yediot for 15 years, an editor told Michael that it would like to retain him, but only if he took a 50% pay cut. He refused. The two sides could never come to terms. His last column originally contained the following farewell to his readers, but editors cut it from the final published column:
This is my last article in this newspaper. I have been fired. Good-bye.
The Israeli blog, 7th Eye, notes that while economic reasons were given for his dismissal, many believe his political views contributed as well. The blog quotes a knowledgeable source who says:
My sense is that he wasn’t compatible with someone there or that he pissed someone off. There were those who warned him that he was playing with fire. But he replied that this was part of the job.
To give you a taste of the journalist’s work, here is a passage from a column he wrote during the Gaza war denouncing it passionately:
There it is again, the cyclical “déjà vu war.” That same ceremonial bloodshed that again is being poured into the hot lava that has been leading the entire region to misery for dozens of years now.
To be honest, one is fatigued by the need to divide the seventh day of the Six-Day War into “operations,” “wars,” “battles,” “operations,” and “campaigns.” All of them constitute one ongoing war; one great butcher shop. The war of occupier against occupied, and the war of the occupied against the occupier.
And again we hear all the great words about courage, surprise, sophistication, and success. Yet the nature of the “surprise” we delivered against Hamas isn’t quite clear. I mean, did the group fail to deploy its airplanes? Did it fail to advance its armored corps…? Did it fail to deploy its Patriot missile batteries?
Moreover, and there is no need to deny this, there is not too much glory and valor involved in flying over a giant prison and firing at its people using helicopters and fighter jets. So far we have seen sophistication and success mostly in the excited commentary of dozens of generals (res.) who again enjoy the limelight. As always.
The loss of a writer of such humanity and such acute judgment from Israel’s largest daily is a deep one. I hope that he ends up with a assignment that will give him similar scope for his writing talents. Readers wishing to protest Yediot’s decision may write to Erella Retzine.