SCANDALOUS: Why Did the Israeli Media and Mainstream Ignore the Saga of Aharon Sofer z”l?


aharon-sofer4By Noam Amdurski

Before the body of Aharon Sofer was found, Allison Kaplan Sommer wrote a pointed article for Haaretz questioning why, in Israel, the media basically ignored the disappearance of Aharon.

“It remains a mystery why it is still absent from the Israeli mainstream,” Sommer wrote yesterday. “It is extremely rare – almost unheard of – for a news story in Israel to grab major newspaper headlines and TV broadcast time in the United States – and yet be totally non-existent when it comes to the Israeli media. But that is precisely the case when it comes to a missing young man named Aaron Soffer… Not only is Soffer himself nowhere to be found – but news of his disappearance is completely missing from the mainstream Israeli landscape.”

Sommer wondered if this was because he wasn’t Israeli, because he is “ultra-Orthodox,” or because the local media is solely focused on the war in Gaza and other unrest in the region.

“Nobody seems to have a clear answer,” Sommer wrote. “But whatever the reason, by Wednesday, the story had been plastered all over the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania region in every possible publication and even garnered some attention in the national media – with pieces on Fox News, USA Today, and an AP story that ran in The Huffington Post.

“But in Israel, the only outlets that have been covering Soffer’s disappearance and the search for him are religious publications and English-language media. As a result, the major international news outlets based in Israel haven’t focused on the story either.”

Sommer offered a half-hearted “dan lekaf zechus“: “If one gives the Israeli media the benefit of the doubt, the fact that the story is being ignored is due to the dramatic crescendo and (hopefully) the end of the Gaza conflict after 50 long days of fighting, death and destruction and new worries along Israel’s border.”

But Sommer said that it is precisely the fact that Aharon was missing during such a volatile time that should have created far more concern regarding his fate.

All the efforts on behalf of Aharon, and virtually all the news coverage, she points out, took place in English – in the U.S., Israel or both – and did not cross over into the Israeli mainstream, an observation made at headquarters as well, as writers wondered when the non-chareidi Hebrew Israeli news outlets would pick up on the story.

“The key question,” Sommer said yesterday before we know what we know now, “is whether this is merely a media failing or a lack of attention that reflects – and could result in – a less than vigorous effort on the part of Israeli authorities to uncover what has happened to him. His family seems to be walking a fine line between trying not to alienate those who are helping them and pushing them to do more.”

Indeed, the family did a truly commendable job in a terrible circumstance. They were truly grateful and respectful in every instance. They made a true kiddush Hashem.

But many questions about the media coverage in Israel and efforts by Israeli officials linger.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind himself made a similar point at the press conference on Tuesday in Lakewood, NJ. “Not enough was done from the very beginning,” said Hikind. “Not enough attention was paid to the disappearance of Aaron. So I want to say to the Israeli government: treat Aaron as if he were an Israeli soldier missing. Because we know what the Israeli government does when an Israeli soldier goes missing – every resource in the world is put into it.”

“The media can really affect people’s response,” Sommer quoted public relations consultant and social media activist Laura Ben-David as saying. Referring to the first two days following his disappearance, she said: “By not putting it out there, people either didn’t know, or didn’t understand, how urgent this was. I’ve heard from a number of people that they automatically discounted it when they only saw it in the chareidi press. And I am not anti-chareidi at all… I simply don’t hold much stock in news that the mainstream media doesn’t report on.”

The mystery of why the saga of the disappearance of Aharon Sofer meant nothing to the Israeli mainstream – and its media – remains.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. i asket the same qwestion,, it is v. upsetting.

    i thought thet may be` becouse he was a frum boy .

    and the frum say we dont need army ,thet

    they ignord it,


  2. I am going to be politically incorrect now (lefties stop reading now)
    in general the mainstream media does not cover chareidim because they dont care about them

  3. It is very hard to understand. I wonder if any journalist or staff member at Ha’aretz would be interested in answering Ms Sommer?
    The Israeli media is not, as suggested in this article, solely focused on the conflict in Gaza. A few short hours after the event occurred, I saw on an Israeli news site that Joan Rivers was hospitalized in New York.
    Which pretty much leaves me as puzzled as we’ve all been about this all along.
    A terrible tragedy for the family, and for all of us who prayed for this young man.
    And a question to the Israeli media that begs for an answer.

  4. It is simply and absolutely not true that Israeli media did not cover the story.

    Btw – we don’t want to think of it- but parents should have at least one really clear picture of each of their children.

  5. While we know that what Hashem decrees is what will happen, the secular Israeli media ignoring Aharon Sofer’s disappearance could have made a life-or-death difference. If he had slipped off a cliff and couldn’t move due to an injury and eventually died of dehydration, a larger search crew covering a wider area could have saved his life. In fact, when it was decided to widen the search to include surrounding areas, he was found within a very short time. That should have been done after one day’s search or less! Had it received more media attention, it might well have been done.
    Of course, as I wrote in the opening sentence, Hashem’s decree was that Aharon should not survive, but that doesn’t absolve anyone else of the responsibility of putting forth maximum hishtadlus in a pikuach nefesh situation. The Israeli mainstream media’s negligence is inexcusable.

  6. Both Arutz Sheva as well as Ynet covered the story. I’m sure other israeli media outlets did as well. The fact that something dosent completely dominate the news does not mean it’s not being covered.

  7. #6
    It was minimal!
    Even the video clip of parents on the anglo Jpost and Times O I were left out and reduced to a couple of quotes

    The family and Yanky meyers were well spoken,touching,
    …probably kept off the screens of the israeli masses

    The mystery of why the saga was ignored Israel by the mainstream – and its media – remains

    or does it?

  8. The scandal is why we did not respond the same way as we did for the 3boys. In my city we did not have a tehilim gathering.

  9. Hey everybody, it’s Elul. We are preparing to be judged, both as individuals and as a community. Instead of condemning each other, we should be looking for achdus – the achdus we had just a month or so ago when the three teens were missing. According to the teachers of Mussar, we should look first to correct ourselves, and then worry about other people.

    Cheap anger is fun, but it always decreases our z’chus in Shomayim.

  10. while there was doubt of kidnapping, there was no search by military or the general populace, only yeshiva boys came to search. there was no statement by any govt. officials. the family should have proclaimed to the media that if you are chareidi American don’t send your child to Israel, because if something happens they will be ignored. that would have generated real response.
    It is unfortunate, but we should come to terms that achdus is always one way, that we should give up our principals and acknowledge the chilonim and datim.

  11. re 13: In my community we had women gathering. The gathering we had for the boys included the matzav in Israel and tefillos for the soldiers especially.

  12. #4
    The terms “politically correct” and “politically incorrect” are very relative terms. You are on now. Your comment was extremely politically correct!

    On a more serious note, because this is a serious topic. I really don’t think this is the time for blame games. There is plenty of time for that later.

  13. #6 #8 #9 #13

    Those who predominate all over, manipulate developments(,tragic ones as well),stirring their targeted mass(es) to their goals

    For some of us it was obvious

    Connect the dots

  14. This whole article is hardly helpful under the circumstances. Why bother printing it in the first place?
    Everything that was supposed to be done according to Hashem’s plan was done. If he was supposed to be found alive, he would’ve been found alive regardless of whether the story was printed on every front page around the world or printed on a Post It note and stuck on the bulletin board of a makolet. He was found how he was supposed to be found and he was found when he was supposed to be found.
    Casting aspersions, criticizing fellow Jews (yes, Israelis are Jews too) and blaming all and sundry is not the way maaminim bnai maaminim act. People of emuna know that Hashem runs the world, not man, and He’s the only One in charge of what happens.
    Hashem natan v’Hashem lakach. Zeh hu.
    May Hashem be menachem his family and friends b’toch she’ar aveilei tzion v’Yerushalayim. And may we all be zocheh to the Geula shelaima b’karov.

  15. The story was covered by at least: Ynet, Jpost, Walla, Arutz Sheva.

    Coverage was appropriate (actually greater than) to a missing person case with no indications of terror involvement.

    #7- there is a difference between media coverage and police effectiveness. Police was not prompt or effective in the case of the 3 boys and they may not have made fast enough or good enough decisions in this case as well. Thousands of people were searching – media coverage could not make them decide to look in the right place.

    I don’t understand why Sommer published her article in Haaretz – it is a virulently anti-Jewish newspaper/website which appears to purposely try to demoralize and divide the Jewish people. Haaretz does not care about the media coverage on Aharon Sofer z”l – this article is just another opportunity for them to sow ill feelings.

  16. To Mama: I have a few questions for you. How many helicopters looked for him? How many drones? And how big is that park? How many loudspeakers are needed in order to be heard from everywhere in the area “Aharon please clap your hands! We have drones triangulating your position, we will get to you within a few minutes!” You also realize that with multispectral view, it’s impossible for any human being to disguise, even in the event one wanted to.

    If Israel is incapable of assisting a civilian in a park within its capital city, it should have asked for foreign countries to send S&R squads – and let us not forget that Aharon z”l was a USA citizen.

    I, like many others, wonder if the obviously haredi clothing of Aharon and the friend who accompanied him (and who was unbelievebly detained and questioned) have anything to do with the handling of the operation.

  17. Mama, you must be in a lot of pain to being saying this. In Elul or any time. Believe me, I’m nosei b’ol too. But I have and will be’H have enough relatives in E”Y that I don’t and can’t think this way…

  18. You are a classic LIBERAL.
    Don’t talk about the question/ discussion at hand, which is very serious. Instead talk about “feelings”. No problems in life were ever solved by discussing “feelings” instead of the issues at hand. If you are truly so concerned about “feelings”, you shouldn’t be on the internet.

  19. #14 is the only important comment. r’chilus and loshon hora do not help any situation. please, let us hope that we do not get sidetracked away from the hihurei t’shuva we have witnessed in the last weeks

  20. Preliminary post mortem reports the niftar was still alive but delirious from dehydration as late as Sunday or monday

    Confirmation of #7 mama

    (Had the search been in the right place ,he may well have been saved
    If there was a sense of lackluster from “on top” as it seems..?)

  21. #21. Stop inciting

    Are Ynet, Jpost, Walla,less anti jewish than Haaretz?

    Or just less honest ?

    Is it really the need to lull a different audience with a mite prettier vocabulary ?

    Realize they often preplan and syndicate
    articles together with slight changes each for a different intended demographic?

  22. #21 Stop inciting

    The Ha’aretz endorsed Rivlin

    IN other words,they are all supremely shrewd
    and if they or other outlets are proclaiming something seemingly “positive”,
    Be Wary!