Many in the religious and ultra-Orthodox society blame the media of being hostile towards them, and a new study that was recently released found that most seculars agree.
According to the study, 66% of seculars think that the media coverage of the haredi sector is unfair and unbalanced, and effectively contributes to fueling tensions between the different sectors in Israeli society.
The survey, conducted by head of the School of Communication at the Ariel University Center, Prof. Yosel Cohen, and head of the Department of Communications at the Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel Dr. Orli Zarfati, will be presented Tuesday at the 25th annual conference of the Association for Israel Studies in Beersheba.
Some 260 respondents, either university or yeshiva students, participated in the poll. Sixty-nine percent of seculars and 83% of haredim said that the media had a negative effect on haredi-secular relations, while 86% of national-religious respondents and 52% of seculars felt this way about the media's effect on religious-secular relations.
'Media a meeting point'
The study also found that 74% of seculars defined their knowledge of the haredi public as "poor," while 88% of them admitted that the secular media is their primary source of information on this society. Thirty-nine percent of seculars said they would like to see the media expand its coverage of the ultra-orthodox world.
Among haredim, only 40% said that the press is their number one source for information on the secular society, and only 17% wish the haredi media pay more attention to secular issues.
Prof. Cohen explained that "the media is a meeting point that introduces one community to the other, and it certainly has an effect and influence on the relations between them."
Cohen said that while the ultra-orthodox press presents the secular world as one of "non-Jewish" values, the secular media emphasizes the fact that haredim do not participate in public life like other sectors.
While seculars exhibit positive curiosity towards the haredi way of life, said Cohen, "the media hardly manages to penetrate through the black haredi attire."