Israeli journalist talks finding her niche, conflict in Israel

Sivan Rahav Meir is a Jerusalem-based media personality and lecturer.
Sivan Rahav Meir is a Jerusalem-based media personality and lecturer. ( “Sivan rahav meir” by סיון רהב is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Israeli journalist Sivan Rahav Meir was set to speak at a virtual Beth Tfiloh Congregation event on May 12, but she had to cancel at the last minute to cover the unfolding Israel-Hamas conflict.

Two weeks later, on May 26, Beth Tfiloh and Rahav Meir were able to hold the event. There, Rahav Meir spoke about her journey to becoming a journalist and what it was like covering the conflict.

Rahav Meir is Jerusalem-based media personality and lecturer. She makes appearances on Israeli television news programs, writes a column for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and hosts a weekly program on the Galei Zahal radio network. Last year, The Jerusalem Post named her one of its 50 Most Influential Jews of 2020.

Rahav Meir grew up in Herzliya as a seventh-generation Israeli and began working as a journalist at 6 years old, at a time when she “felt like a loser, like a failure, everything I tried to do came out awful basically,” she said. She began searching for a niche she could succeed in, as her classmates had cool hobbies like dancing or guitar. She realized that reading, writing and speaking were the skills she felt most comfortable in. Rahav Meir began by interviewing all 35 children in her class on their hobbies and interests, from stamp collecting to pets. Then, at 7 or 8 years old, she auditioned for and received the chance to interview former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on The Dan Shilon Show on Israeli television. Two weeks after that, she interviewed Shimon Peres, and another two weeks later, she interviewed members of the “Power Rangers,” who were visiting Israel at the time.

“That was my childhood, basically, interviewing politicians, singers, all kinds of important figures in Israel and abroad,” Rahav Meir said.

Before long, she began to see her time in school as a hobby, while her skyrocketing career as a journalist became more and more her primary focus.

Rahav Meir’s upbringing was very secular and politically left-wing, she said, but she gradually became more interested in religious Judaism at 15, after she met several young, modern Orthodox Israeli girls who invited her to attend Shabbat. She initially had planned to attend as an “investigative journalist,” but she experienced a transformation during the evening.

“I wasn’t a journalist anymore,” she said. “I was just a Jewish girl keeping Shabbat, and that magic, that gift, I still remember it many years afterwards.”

At the virtual event, Rahav Meir also spoke of what it was like to cover the recent violence in Israel.

“During those two weeks, I was inside the studio, the newsroom, covering what was going on basically 24/6,” she said.

In her view, the conversations in the U.S. about Israel, in forums such as the Democratic Party, college campuses and The New York Times, had recently shifted from whether there should be a Palestinian state to whether there should be a state of Israel.

“For one generation at least, that was the question, OK, occupation, Jews in Samaria, settlements, that was the question, OK, will they be able to establish a Palestinian state,” Rahav Meir said. “The question today is no longer ‘67, the question is ‘48. … It’s not about the Palestinian state, it’s about the Jewish state, do we have the right to exist?”

When she is occasionally asked what her “best scoop, the most important thing you’ve covered” has been, Rahav Meir said, she normally replies that, while she has had her share of exclusive interviews, her biggest is the story of the Jewish people.

“This big picture, the wider story, of a small nation coming back to our homeland, rebuilding ourselves year after so many years, I think that’s the general scoop,” Rahav Meir said.

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