These are hard times for the Schocken Group and for Ha’aretz. One week after the publication of a letter from Irit Linur in which she announced that she was canceling her subscription to the newspaper — a letter that sparked a huge storm — a new storm has arrived. Army Radio’s Amit Segal reported yesterday that Ha’aretz has experienced a wave of subscriptions cancellations, and that the paper has provided a list of special instructions in order to give the newspaper’s sales representatives tools to respond to readers who want to cancel their subscriptions. The list includes answers to questions raised by angry subscribers, under the heading, “Key sentences in response to opposition to a ‘left-wing newspaper.'”

The wave of cancellations marks the peak of a trend that began at the outbreak of the Intifada. Segal also reported that many newspaper stands in Tel Aviv have refused to sell local papers published by the Schocken Group after one of them ran pictures of Yigal Amir next to pictures of the prime minister on the front page.

Many Ha’aretz readers feel that the left-wing line that the paper takes in its reporting of the events over the past year and a half are not something that they can come to terms with. In the letter sent to Ha’aretz to cancel her subscription, Irit Linur describes the problem: “Ha’aretz has reached a stage at which its anti-Zionism too often becomes stupid, bad journalism, and even if it is hard for me to decide which of the two bothers me more, I am sick of both of them. I am tired of reading in every TV review, whether written by Rogel Alper, Sagui Green, Benny Tzipper, or Aviv Lavie, that the central problem of all of the news programs, every broadcast, before and after an attack, is too much patriotism and that the military reporters are working for the IDF spokesman. I think that they are wrong and boring, and that their working assumption is dishonest and estranged from the reality and the place where they live.”

As is noted above, the publication of the letter created a wave of cancellations of subscriptions, and sources at the paper report angry letters from readers canceling their subscriptions because of “the extreme pro-Palestinian line” taken by the paper.

This piece ran in Maariv on May 11, 2002