The march to capitulate at any price to Hamas is making its way to Jerusalem, and on the way it has changed the face of the Israeli media. A majority of the media outlets abandoned their commonly-accepted role in the course of their past week and enlisted with all their might on behalf of the campaign being staged by the Shalit family, which is demanding that the government and people surrender unconditionally. By so doing, the Israeli media overwhelmingly turned itself into the fourth branch of government-perhaps the strongest one among them. The various organizations in this branch, the major newspapers (with the exception of Israel Hayom) and the central television and radio stations, have all used their power in order to see this purpose achieved.

They became the public relations agents for the Shalit family and its supporters, and cast off even the semblance of maintaining journalistic standards.

The new role that was shouldered by the various media outlets undermines the foundations of democratic society, but who can withstand such a powerful force. The massive brainwashing effort that is a part of every report and analysis, even commentary and background story. That kind of power existed only in the hands of totalitarian regimes in the pre-internet days.

Quite a bit has been written abut the catastrophic implications of capitulating to Hamas’s demands under the slogan of “at any price.” The price that the Israeli government has already agreed to pay is reckless and dangerous unto itself. But the demands being made by the Shalit campaign threatens the very existence of the State of Israel and its society. Someone has already done the math and found that, given the statistics about terrorist recidivism,

318 Israelis are going to pay directly with their lives for this capitulation to Hamas.

That is without citing the price that we are all going to pay because of the encouragement that our enemies will derive from this capitulation and the exposure of paralyzing weakness shown by Israeli society.

The only people to whom no one can complain are the members of the Shalit family itself-the Shalit family sees only its own narrow prism and it cannot be judged for that. But the others simply cannot be understood. The preaching for capitulation to Hamas irrespective of the results-even if many people are murdered and national security is done mortal damage-lies beyond the realm of folly and blindness. But the total enlistment by a majority of the central media outlets in support of this march of folly establishes a new alignment of forces in Israeli society.

This is not the first time that the media has abdicated its designated role.

The same thing occurred with the Oslo Accords and the disengagement plan, when the top journalists provided propaganda services to the government while distorting reality and hiding its true face.

The results of that are known.

This time the media has enlisted itself against the government, but the trend of enlistment is identical to its precursors-capitulation, myopia and now-ism.

The current enlistment is particularly crude this time because most of the media outlets haven’t bothered trying to maintain the semblance of maintaining journalistic standards: not fair reporting, not criticism, not maintaining a distance from the subject being reported and certainly not balance.

By so doing, the media officially abdicated its job and duty, and positioned itself as a type of fourth branch of government.

And if that is the case, then there is no choice but to force accountability. Any organization that of its own volition changes from being a reporter and critic into a central player in the arena, the one that utilizes all of its abilities to shift public opinion against the government, needs to be held accountable for the consequences.

From now on, the editors of the major media outlets, the heads of the news departments, the commentators, correspondents and anchors will all bear responsibility.

If it turns out that the release resulted in the murder of Israelis or damage to national security, they will be held accountable.

The time has arrived for every journalist who takes part in this campaign, either proactively or by default, should know that he faces the same risk as every minister and prime minister faces-to face a state commission of inquiry and letters of warning.