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January 25, 2016 6:33 pm

Haaretz’s Owner Proves Paper Has an Anti-Israel Political Agenda

avatar by Simon Plosker

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The Left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

With a circulation as low as 6% market share of Israeli print media according to recent research, Haaretz is utterly unrepresentative of the Israeli public and political system at large. Yet, Haaretz is still considered by outsiders to be the Israeli equivalent of the New York Times.

To be clear, Haaretz, even with a low circulation, is still a vital part of Israel’s dynamic and democratic free press. But the fraught and often aggressive discourse that characterizes so much of the Israeli debate sounds very different to a foreign audience.

Indeed, Haaretz, through its English-language website, has demonstrated that it is more concerned with its international audience than its domestic Israeli one. Haaretz, unable to exercise any meaningful influence at home, is using its English-language website and print newspaper to encourage external pressure on Israel.

The latest and most prominent example is an opinion piece by the newspaper’s proprietor Amos Schocken, titled “Only International Pressure Will End Israeli Apartheid.”

Schocken’s piece would not be amiss on anti-Israel hate sites such as Electronic Intifada or Mondoweiss. Schocken refers to “nearly 50 years of Israeli apartheid,” and compares Israel to the former South African regime:

The Israeli apartheid regime is also illegitimate, and it is no surprise that the complete identification which the government is creating between Israeli policy and apartheid is causing the world to question not only Israel’s control of Palestinians without rights, but also the legitimacy of the state itself and the whole Zionist idea. If, as in the government’s policy, apartheid is a necessary condition for the fulfillment of Zionism and the existence of Israel, then Zionism and the state are illegitimate.

Schocken is entitled to his opinions, even to the extent of portraying Israel as an illegitimate state. However, he is apparently hell-bent on “weaponizing” his newspaper in order to delegitimize Israel:

Whoever fears Israel’s insistence on maintaining its apartheid regime and understands that there is no chance of eliminating it from within, should view the EU labeling of settlement products, the pressure FIFA has placed on Israel and Brazil’s refusal to accept Dani Dayan as ambassador as encouraging signs. This is a crucial beginning of global action against an illegitimate situation that Israel insists on maintaining, but will be forced to give up. The government will predictably take “appropriate Zionist responses” to this pressure and pass anti-democratic initiatives to suppress and silence Israelis who, understanding that only external pressure will bring change, draw world attention to displays of Israeli apartheid.

Haaretz, for Amos Schocken, is an integral part of this “global action” against “Israeli apartheid.” Where does Schocken draw the line? If labeling settlement products or refusing the credentials of an ambassador are a “crucial beginning,” what exactly is the end game?

For the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, Israel is also an illegitimate apartheid state that deserves to be destroyed. If Schocken has adopted the narrative and language of BDS, then, presumably, he is content to see Israel as the pariah amongst the nations. Haaretz then becomes the token Jew, much like those small yet very vocal anti-Zionist (and sometimes even antisemitic) Jews who serve as fig leaves for the BDS campaign. After all, if Jews and even a major Israeli newspaper are in favor of boycotting the Israeli “apartheid state,” then this form of assault on Israel’s wellbeing must be legitimate in the eyes of the uninformed observer.

Haaretz is striving not for objective and accurate reporting but for promoting a political agenda. It is incumbent, therefore, that the foreign media see Haaretz as a political entity rather than a primary news source. Using Haaretz as a cover for biased reporting is unacceptable.

While Haaretz is a product of Israel’s vibrant democracy and free press, it also plays a major role in the demonization of Israel. Amos Schocken’s latest opinion piece sadly acknowledges that Haaretz is anything but an unwilling accomplice.

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