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February 26, 2015 5:17 pm

The Human Stain of Moral Preening

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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Nicholas D. Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times. Photo: World Economic Forum.

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times is everyone’s favorite bleeding-heart columnist. His focus on human rights abuses, especially in Darfur, won him a Pulitzer Prize (his second) for “his graphic, deeply reported columns that . . . gave voice to the voiceless.” Not surprisingly, his gaze has occasionally shifted to the evils of “Israeli colonies,” otherwise known as Jewish settlements.

Nearly seven years ago Kristof visited a colony/settlement located “in the heart of a city with 160,000 Palestinians.” The city was Hebron, the biblically revered site of the burial caves of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people; and subsequently King David’s first capital before relocating his throne to Jerusalem. Jews lived in Hebron for centuries until the horrific massacre of 1929, when rampaging Arabs murdered 67 innocents and survivors fled the city. Not until 1968 did despised Jewish “settlers” return to rebuild their ancient community, established millennia before Palestinians invented themselves as a people. History did not matter to Kristof. Relying upon B’Tselem, the left-wing Israeli human-rights organization, and an interview with a Palestinian housewife who had the “misfortune” to live near Jews in Hebron, he decried the Israeli “oppressor that lets settlers steal land and club women.” (June 22, 2008)

Kristof’s most recent variation on his favorite theme of unjust oppression , entitled “The Human Stain” (February 26), focused on the Palestinian village of Sinjil, near Ramallah. Accompanied (no surprise) by a B’Tselem guide, he doubled his previous sample of one aggrieved Palestinian to quote two farmers who complained about Israeli abuses. Kristof acknowledged that “some Israeli settlers have been murdered by Palestinians.” Indeed, he might even have talked to “settler children traumatized by Palestinian violence.” But he didn’t. Yet somehow “that’s the point.” What “point” did Kristof discern? Predictably: “As long as Israel maintains these settlements, illegal in the eyes of most of the world, both sides will suffer.” But for Kristof, to be sure, only suffering Palestinians are newsworthy.

Responsible journalist that he is, Kristof concedes “far worse human rights abuses in the Middle East” than those committed against two Palestinian farmers by evil settlers. He recognizes that at “a time when Saudi Arabia is flogging dissidents, Egypt is sentencing them to death, and Syria is bombing them,” Israel “should stand as a model.” But not for Kristof. The only democratic country in the Middle East, indeed by his own acknowledgment “the nation in which Arab citizens have the most meaningful vote,” is the morally flawed Jewish state. Curiously, his enumeration of Arab misdeeds omits the forbidden phrase in liberal circles emanating from the White House: “Islamist terrorists.” There is no mention of ISIS, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Hamas and Hezbollah, or other “folks” (in the current lexicon) who commit daily atrocities against innocents.

But Kristof finds Israel’s “occupation” (of its biblical homeland, no less) to be “particularly offensive.” Why? Because “it is conducted by the United States’ ally, underwritten with our tax dollars, supported by tax-deductible contributions to settlement groups, and carried out by American bulldozers and weaponry, and presided over by a prime minister who is scheduled to speak to Congress next week.” It is, in sum, all Netanyahu’s fault (and mine, since I contribute a small sum annually to The Hebron Fund).

If only Israel did not “squander” its political capital and “antagonize” friends “with its naked land grab in the West Bank,” it might reach his noble standard of moral purity. Perhaps, Kristof suggests, the Prime Minister might discuss such abuses in his forthcoming address to Congress. I have a better idea: perhaps Mr. Netanyahu will remind Israel’s professed American friends (like Nicholas Kristof) that Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) comprise the biblical homeland of the Jewish people, where Jewish history was forged millennia before self-righteous New York Times pundits offered Israeli prime ministers moral guidance.

Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner.

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  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    NYT is a yellow trashy rag!

    • Fritz Kohlhaas

      And Kristof is yellow trashy reporter!

  • E benAbuya

    Kristof has guzzled and chugged what Bertram Russell described as the fallacy of “The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed” []This he compounds by assigning the role of the Oppressed based on incomplete and mostly fraudulent information. It is no wonder that his discharge is rank and odious.

  • Len Dreyer

    The NY Times doesn’t even pay lip service to objectivity anymore. While I don’t read the NY Times International every day (there is a limit to the amount of aggravation one can stand) over the past 2 weeks or so there have been 3 Op Ed pieces related to Netanyahu’s speech to the US congress and all have been against it. The accuracy of the Times should be tied to that of Thomas Friedman who always manages tgo be on the wrong side of history.

  • Michael Palmer

    West Bank or Judea Samaria were part of the Land given to the Palestians in 1948 by the UN when Israel was created. Even though most Palestians still seek to destroy Israel and want ONE Palestine from River to Sea, Israel should not seek to expand its presence in the West Bank. If status quo continues and there is no Two State solution, Israel will eventually be ostracized by every other country except the US and Canada. Fair or not , this is the truth.

    • Paul Winter

      The only truth in your comment is that Israel will be ostracised. What you omit is that it will be ostracised not for nation building, what you describe as “settlements”, but for being Jewish.

      You err is stating the the UN GAVE Judea and Samaria to the Arabs. The UN proposed the division of Jewish land left after the creation of Trans-Jordan.

      Critically you ignore that Jews accepted the unfair proposition while the Arabs rejected it and instead illegally attacked Israel in defiance of their UN obligations.

      The Arabs still have not accepted Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The local Arabs rejected Jewish willingness to share their country with them, the “Palestinians” – an invented people – in 2000, 2008 and 2010.

      Jews have a right to develop their country. Arabs do not have national rights in the Jewish state. Like all misfits globally, they can fit in or flit out.

    • Scott Smith

      Slight problem with your position. The UNGA, which passed the partition resolution, had no authority to give the land to anyone. The land was allotted at the San Remo conference to what was to become a Jewish state to be developed under the watch of the British Mandate, and that allotment was affirmed in Article 80 of the UN Charter. What Partition do was recommend that Britain end its mandate and that what was to become Israel cede a substantial portion of the southwestern Levant, including Judea and Samaria in the interest of attaining peace with the surrounding Arabs and that the Arabs accept a Jewish state emerging in what the plan allotted for that purpose. Britain, being in no position to continue the mandate accepted the recommendation and the Yishuv accepted the recommendation of ceding land while the Arabs did not.

      The UNGA has no authority to impose a settlement on the parties. All it can do is recommend that the parties reach an agreement. If the parties both agree, then the agreement would take on the force of a bilateral treaty. However, since only one party agreed, the recommendation of partition has no force whatsoever.

      The thought processes underlying the Partition plan might have validity for today on practical grounds. However, the resulting product has no legal validity.

  • Laurel Fleger

    If only someone could articulately explain to Kristof that the Palestinians are victims of not only their own people but all of the Arabic world. The rulers of Saudi Arabia and other countries urge them to continue their terrorist activities on Israel only to lose innocent people. He needs to see the whole picture.

  • Paul

    One problem with the defense the writer presents here, is that he wants to belittle the problem of a colonial Israeli Settlement policy by comparing Israel to extremist Jihadist arab groups. Really ? “We are better than Jihadist terrorists !”? Is that our defense?
    Israel claims to be a western-minded, democratic country, respecting human life and rights. The US is our vital ally because that is how they regard us. But Israel is then judged on these terms. When we claim to be morally intact and to respect all human rights, we cannot behave in contradiction of these principles, or try to justify trampling on these rights because of something God was supposed to have said to Abraham. If we want to justify this by stating that we were here 2000 years ago, then what about the rights of those who have been here for the last 2000 years since ? If one of the descendants of the nations Johoshua ben Nun threw out of the promised land with Moses were to appear today and claim the land back -would the writer say we should give it to them because it was originally theirs ? Or is it just because we are Jews, that we should have superior rights ? The US does not give aid, political support and sell arms to the extreme arab Jihadists as it does to Israel. When it gives that to us because we share US values, then we are expected to behave in accord with those values.

  • Trish

    Kristoff also seems to be singularly unaware of the joint treaty between the PA and Israel which legitimizes the Jewish sector of Hebron, something somehow never mentioned in any of the anti-Israel screeds concerning the Jewish community which resides lawfully in Hebron.

  • bissel essen

    Nicholas Kristof is disappointing.

  • Dorothy Seidel Wigod

    Thank you, Professor Auerbach.
    We need your voice.

  • Hill

    Another wannabee Jesus character. This guy Kristof, good Nordic goyishe name, has been given awards and accolades which have made him feel as if he can walk on water so he does.

  • Bravo!

  • Cat

    This guy makes my blood boil. He is a crap journalist who actually argued with Aayan Hirsi Ali about her truths. He was disrespectful and rude. Unbelievable.

  • ari

    Nicholas kristof is a human stain in the collective underwear of the world

  • renate rittmer

    It is unfortunate that we have such misguided reporters. Why do they not ask the most obvious question, ie, why are these people still poor when they have been given such vast amounts of money. Let them also educate themselves as to who belongs where.

  • NCS


  • steven L

    Israel settlements are ONLY a response to the systematic NO, NO and NO for the past 65 years from the Muslim world.
    It is also a defense against western antisemitism.
    No more not less.

  • Elle

    Great post!