Friday, September 30th | 5 Tishri 5783

January 20, 2012 10:00 am

The New York Times and Haaretz, Twin and Twisted Mirrors

avatar by Arik Elman


The Haaretz newspaper.

It is never a good idea for a journalist to become part of the story. The latest one to learn this was the editor of the esteemed “Jerusalem Post” Steven Linde, who shared his “analysis” of a private conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a room full of women. Predictably, he didn’t need to wait long to regret it. Before the Prime Minister’s Office had time to refute the allegation that Netanyahu considers the New York Times and the Haaretz newspapers “two main enemies of Israel”, the rest of the liberal Israel-bashers had a field day. After all, journalists are entitled to attack the elected public officials, not the other way around. The press in the Western world has worked hard to impose openness and accountability on everyone except itself; no politician can expect to do to journalists what they daily do to him and get away with it.

To say that the NYT and Haaretz, the Big and Small Satans of the anti-Israeli Left worldwide, are “enemies of Israel” is, of course, meaningless. The owners and the editors of both will emphatically insist that they have nothing but big, unrequited love for the Jewish State. Both have good reason to this claim – the increasingly wobbly Gray Lady is relying on Jewish readership and Haaretz is forced to depend on the generosity of a former Russian oligarch and the proceeds from printing “Israel Today” – Sheldon Adelson’s brainchild newspaper, which is supportive of the Prime Minister. God sure loves irony.

Nevertheless, the overall diagnosis which Linde has attributed to Netanyahu is obviously correct. For the Israel-bashers worldwide and the associated Jewish liberals both papers are the one-stop shop to have their worst stereotypes of Israel verified. Israel as reflected through The New York Times is a repulsive island of bigotry, corruption, nationalism, religious extremism and militarism. Haaretz… well, it is sufficient to skim today’s opinion pages to witness various government officials being accused of racism, condoning “extreme police violence”, trying to impose a Putin-like regime, wishing for Assad’s survival in power, cozying up to China at the expense of Obama and Europe, and generally trying to demolish the Israeli democracy in a myriad of nefarious ways. If you are in need of a newspaper or a website that will put you in the mood to mob and disrupt a gathering of Israel’s supporters or a speech by an Israeli diplomat, Haaretz is all you need.

While Haaretz is the voice of internal dissident, striving under brutal oppression (while not flying away to some international forum to apologize to the world for Israel’s crimes or handing each other awards “for courage in journalism”), the New York Times is a frustrated schoolmarm, which simply cannot comprehend why the Israeli student can’t just do what he’s told. The complete failure of Israeli leaders to follow the path of wisdom lain down by the editorial eminence of the NYT has evidently caused the paper to doubt their intelligence and to adopt a tone of hectoring condescension.  After all, the New York Times is never wrong, so when its’ columnist Roger Cohen explains to the Israeli Prime Minister that “choosing between the United States and Iran is a no-brainer”, he should very well listen, damn it!

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While for the New York Times Israel is Netanyahu, Netanyahu is Israel and the Israelis must pay the price for electing the wrong people, Haaretz wages its wars not only against the government but against specific groups of Israelis as well. If you’re a “settler”, or the “Ultra-Orthodox”, or, God forbid, a “Russian” immigrant, you really shouldn’t read this newspaper unless you’re into ulcers and masochism. Settlers are always evil; Palestinians are always innocent. Haaretz’ idea of equality is to endlessly prat about the need to draft the Orthodox into the military, yet to remain curiously mum about the Israeli Muslims who avoid both military and the alternative “national” service. As for the “Russians”, the paper shamelessly promotes the idea that by virtue of their place of birth those “migrants” (definitely not “olim”) are hopeless authoritarians incapable of mastering the basic tenets of liberal democracy. The idea that such racialist thinking can be equally applied to Israeli Muslims or even Ethiopian immigrants never occurs to anyone in the Haaretz building.

The mass protests of the recent summer have revealed just what the priorities of the Israeli self-proclaimed “newspaper of record” really are. As long as there was a chance that the protesters would topple the hated Netanyahu government, Haaretz lent them its support, but when it became clear that such an opportunity would not arise, the paper reverted to its usual uber-capitalistic ideology, giving short shrift to all this “social justice” nonsense. In fact, beyond its liberal visage, Haaretz is very much a newspaper for the rich establishment, determined to preserve the status quo – in the economy as well as in the Supreme Court.

For The New York Times, the original sin of Israel lies in defying the word of the living God, Barack Obama. The NYT’s prescription for Israel’s problems is simple – just do what Obama requires and trust his judgment. Palestinians, Iran, the Islamization of the Middle East formerly known as the “Arab spring” – all will be well in the end. For the inexplicable refusal to accept those assurances as a national policy Netanyahu is being vilified and Israel’s sincerity in it’s pursuit of peace is being questioned. Normally finding out who takes pleasure in a bestial massacre of children and who doesn’t would be enough to determine who truly wants peace, but the NYT knows better.

With a publisher who promoted mixed marriages as a way to peace between Jews and Arabs, and a former editor who demanded from the American Secretary of State “to rape Israel into agreement”, Israelis could be forgiven for doubting that Haaretz is really on their side. With its insulting tone and a zero-tolerance treatment of an elected allied government, should the New York Times really be considered “friendly” to the cause of safety and security of Israel? It is appropriate for the Prime Minister’s Office to avoid useless name-calling. It is up for the Israelis themselves and their American friends to draw their own conclusions – and in this case, it will not be too hard.

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