The way in which the Israeli media covers the issue of the corona virus influences public confidence in the media. This statement can be manifested in the way the group of opponents to the corona virus vaccines in Israel has perceived the media over the past year and a half. It is a case of how the media coverage around the corona virus eventually led to a decline in their trust in traditional media.
With the onset of the corona virus, the atmosphere of uncertainty among the Israeli public, regarding the virus, its impact, and the ways in which it can be dealt with, was widespread. At the time, all the media dealt with this issue, and reviewed it from different directions. Often, the new safely guidelines were communicated to the public directly from the Prime Minister through live broadcasts, on the main news channels. As a result, the traditional media was a major source of information for many citizens, from which they could keep up to date with the new guidelines. According to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, in 2020 there was an increase in the Israeli public's trust in the media compared to the previous year. This increase illustrates the positive public role that the media can play in a democracy.
The upward trend in public trust in the media included those who were skeptical of it. Nissim (pseudonym), an educator and vaccine opponent, says: “I believed the news releases at the beginning of the corona virus, and it seemed reasonable to me that there was a new virus coming. But when conflicting information began to appear on social networks and main news channels, and also when I was exposed to the way the government manages the corona virus crisis along with how the media distorts information, my opinion began to change."
With the availability of corona virus vaccines and the way in which the media strongly supported this solution, there has been a further decline of tryst in the media among vaccine opponents. In Israel, as in all over the world, some people chose not to be vaccinated, and even expressed opposition to this solution in protests in the streets and on social media. According to Miriam (pseudonym), an accountant from the central region of Israel: "for me, the vaccine and the reduction of natural rights of citizens is a social experiment in which we look at how citizens will react and whether they will rebel." Miriam goes on: “The way in which the Israeli public received the vaccine and the sanctions that followed, indicate that the experiment was successful”.
The traditional television channels and newspapers in Israel have aligned themselves with the government about the necessity of the vaccine. The media narrative completely rejected the claims of the opponents and blames them for the situation .
This line of coverage escalated under the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. On July 22, 2021, the incoming Prime Minister gave one of his first public speeches on dealing with the corona virus. At the beginning of the speech, Bennett argued that the goal is clear and is that any citizen who can be vaccinated will do so. Later in the speech, the Prime Minister attacked the opponents of the vaccines and presented them as ungrateful and even described them as a real danger to the freedom of the State of Israel.
“The way the media and the government persecute us”, says Nissim, “is undemocratic and has a strong impact on the way the rest of the public sees and treats us". As an individual, if they do something like this to you in a small place, like in class or in a workplace, you're going to ask them to stop and you're going to tell them it's wrong."