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Why Does ‘The Forward’ Despise Israel?

August 21, 2013 9:14 am 14 comments

A Syrian refugee is treated at Ziv Medical Center in Israel's northern city of Safed. Photo: Ziv Medical Center.

The Forward has a truly disgusting article by Lisa Goldman, entitled “Feel-Good Stories Obscure Ugly Mideast Truths.”


The Israeli government invests considerable effort in promoting its image in the foreign media. It’s called “hasbara,” which comes from the Hebrew root “to explain.” Israelis tend to be patriotic, with many believing their country is unfairly vilified in the foreign media. And so they embrace hasbara as a legitimate corrective measure. But for critics of Israel, even those who do not speak Hebrew, hasbara means official lies and spin designed to divert attention away from the military occupation of the West Bank and the settlers.

The Government Press Office, which provides journalists with press cards and keeps them informed of media events, contributes to the hasbara effort by sending out emails with carefully crafted pitches about human interest stories. Usually, these stories are meant to be both heartwarming and counter-intuitive — the kind that people post on Facebook with a comment about restoring one’s faith in human nature….

When I read a recent New York Times article about wounded Syrian children receiving treatment in Israeli hospitals, I posted it to my Facebook with a cynical comment: “So the Government Press Office sends an email to journalists in Israel, telling them about this ‘quiet’ story of Israeli hospitals treating Syrian wounded. Shhh…. We want to be modest about this. So don’t make too much noise and please don’t reveal the identities of the people who benefit from our generosity, because their own people might shun or hurt them. Just for seeking help for their children. Can you imagine? And the media obediently report this story, because who can resist cute Jewish and Arab kids getting treated in the same hospital…. And then the foreign ministry sends links to the articles to all the journalists they have on their global email lists. And voila. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do hasbara.”

My friend Gal Beckerman read the comment and decided to look into the matter, emailing Isabel Kershner, who wrote the article, and the New York Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren. And it turns out that I was wrong. They discovered the story on their own, and in fact the army tried to prevent them from covering it.

So does this reporter ask forgiveness for falsely accusing Israel of pushing this story when it didn’t? No! The Forward looks for the higher truth:

Gal’s conclusion — and I agree with him — is that the Israeli government’s relentless focus on hasbara efforts has tainted the way we report and consume news from that country. For partisan observers, news reports are judged not for their veracity and newsworthiness, but for how they present Israel. Far too often this is parsed according to binary clichés: Israel is presented either as the evil occupier or a light unto the nations.

But I would take Gal’s observation one step further. By reporting the Israel-Palestine story with an emotional subtext rather than some intellectual detachment, we are perpetuating a discourse that is disconnected from reality. Hasbara diverts attention from the very painful and difficult issues that must be addressed. It is much easier to smile at Arab and Jewish children sharing a hospital ward than to address the tough issues, like a military occupation that does not seem likely to end in our lifetime.

You see, according to The “Jewish” Daily Forward, any story that humanizes Israel – even when it was found by reporters doing their jobs, and against Israeli wishes – doesn’t reflect the “reality.” Who decides what reality is? Why, it is Lisa Goldman and Gal Beckerman and The Forward, of course!

Goldman has no compunction about humanizing Palestinian Arabs, as her articles attest.

On Friday afternoons in Nabi Salih, it starts like this. A few Israeli and foreign activists arrive at the village around noon, gathering at the home of Bassam Tamimi. His door is open, so there is no need to knock. Inside, villagers and visitors socialize, use the washroom and help themselves from the huge spread of homemade food laid out on the kitchen table. Bassam’s children run between the guests’ legs; and Sameeh, a neighbour from Jaffa, picks one of them up and tickles him. The atmosphere is relaxed, jovial and friendly. Most of these people see one another every Friday, under the same circumstances.

Bassam’s mother (or perhaps mother-in-law) sits on one of the chairs, her legs pulled up in a near-squat, observing the visitors through half-blind eyes. She looks like aPalestinian grandmother out of central casting, with her long white veil, embroidered traditional dress, deeply wrinkled face and thin, arthritic hands. I greet her by clasping one of them and muttering something in mangled Arabic. She responds by telling me to eat – a word I understand because the Arabic and Hebrew roots are the same (AKL), and also because that’s what grandmothers tend to do, the world over – urge you to eat.

After we have eaten and drunk our tea, Bassam says, “So, shall we start?”

No “emotional subtext” here, about the wonderful Tamimi family that also happened to produce a woman who blew up a pizza shop.

Oh, I’m sorry. The rule at the Forward (and the pretty indistinguishable +972 that Goldman also writes for) is that humanizing Arabs is quality journalism. Humanizng Israelis is evil hasbara.

Even when it is perfectly true! Even when it was not a story that the Israelis wanted to publicize!

Goldman doesn’t feel manipulated at all by eating lunch with the Tamimis. Her journalistic antennae are retracted because of the nice grandmother feeding her and the cute kids being tickled. How could a great journalist like Lisa feel manipulated when she is asked to visit a loving family home before the protest?

No, even though the Tamimi story is hand-fed to her, literally, by the protesters themselves, they are human. Zionist Israelis who seem human are the ones you have to check and double check to ensure that there is a dark side somewhere that you can report.

The conclusion is that The Forward believes that Israel is inherently evil. Those are the only facts that can fit its editorial policy. Anything that contradicts that narrative makes reporters not just feel conflicted, but angry. Because they already knew the truth before the story that makes Israelis look like decent people comes out. That is an unacceptable distraction from their own one-dimensional analysis of the situation.

Beyond that, we can see how bad a reporter Goldman is. In the earlier part of the article she describes how she feels “manipulated” when she covers a story that the Israeli government tips her (and other journalists) off about. So what is stopping her from digging deeper? Moreover, what is stopping her from looking to find out if there are similar “feel-good” human interest stories that are not pushed by the government?

That’s crazy talk! To Goldman and The Forward, Israeli cruelty is the only story, and everything else is a distraction, to be ignored or downplayed or belittled or cynically dismissed.

The Forward’s motto might as well be “Truth above all – unless we are uncomfortable with it.”


  • The SIMPLE ANSWER, IS…IF YOU HATE ISRAEL AND BIBLE BELIEVING JEWS, YOU ARE EVIL…SORRY… Dr. Run Pall disciples seem to hate N###### and JOOOOOOS. I have often seen them quoting Gaydolph


    Atheism, Sexual Deviancy, ISLAM, Vegetarianism, Pacifism, EVIL BE THY NAME. …. …. Sexual politics is both feminist and homosexual, with no distinct line separating them. Feminism has been the more overtly political doctrine. Until recently, gays asked mostly to be left alone and as such gained widespread sympathy. …

  • It’s worse then i realized.Today the Backward is promoting the vicious Jew hating group ‘Jewish voices for ‘Peace’ and they have not regular posters but posters from that group ,one time posters writing loving talkbacks about the author

  • Oh sorry! It is not obvious Red colored propaganda, because otherwise it would hurt Americans’ dignity and idealism. It is just chameleonic colored Red propaganda.

  • Elliot J. Stamler

    Perfect extremist ultra-conservative garbage. I’ve been a subscriber to the Forward for many years and to write it despises Israel is the kind of Pamela Geller rot one often unfortunately finds in the Algemeiner. The Forward is a Zionist publication and publishes a variety of opinions-regretably unlike the Algemeiner. Some one can agree with, some not. I don’t like or agree with Goldman and I usually disagree with Leonard Fein, their resident ultra-liberal but it the sheerest libelous nonsense to declare the Forward despises Israel. Elder of Ziyon who authored this preposterous article should have the guts to put his name to it.

    • Benyamin Solomon

      Elliot, you response is a perfect example of far-leftist liberal garbage.Rather than address any points in this article, you resort to using these leftist obsessions such as Pamella Geller bashing. There is no doubt that there is a large anti-Israel voice in the Forward, as seen from the articles that this article refers to. The problem is that too many Jews brown nose the left with anti-Israel propaganda so then they, along with the non-Jewish leftists they brown nose, can call anyone who criticizes these sellouts as “extremists.”Their Jewish heritage is only used to provide a cover for Israel bashing. That’s the sad truth. And then liberals like us use slogans instead of referring to any of the substance that was said in this article.

  • ‘Leftish’ but certainly Not ‘Jewish’!…That’s all we can say about writers for “Forward’, ‘Haaretz’, and all the other Kapos in our midst who choose to side with those who wish only to destroy us. It’s time to call these fratricidal maniacs out for what they are and what they are doing, namely killing fellow Jews.

  • It’s well known fact that The Forward was the most popular new paper among Russians in US up to the yearly 2000. My Dad admired its courageous approach and straightforward attitude towards Russia. But then, it was grabbed through sale by Russian authorities and had been changed completely by the new owners. Now it is pure Red colored Russian propaganda. Its name was the only thing that had been left.

  • The Backward is a Socialist Newspaper just look it up on any site with the Forwards history.I know 4 people who were banned for disagreeing with some of anti Israel talkbackers.They ave a quota it seems on an given time on how many counter Leftists can post in the talkbacks.

    • Benyamin Solomon

      I think when I was posting comments in an article titled “If a Palestinian Did This, He’d Be Dead”[], one of my comments was deleted. The Forward is devolving into a leftist assimilationist self-hating publication. It may not be totally like that, but it’s going down that direction, considering when pro-Israel voices get censored.

  • Forward: bassackward.

  • Barry Meridian

    Yes the Foward has become another Haaretz in its hatred of Israel and promoting Pallywood.

  • She is a well-known BDS supporter and a disgusting anti-Israel campaigner operating with applying lies, wholesale lies ans slander all the time. She herself should be boycotted.

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