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February 9, 2016 6:06 am

The True Heirs of Zionism

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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Israelis shopping at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. Photo: Wikipedia.

Israelis shopping at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. Photo: Wikipedia.

The photo is striking: a solitary Jewish settler, wearing a kippa, is standing alone on a hilltop overlooking the Palestinian village of Duma. It was not a random location choice. In a horrific attack  last summer a home in Duma was firebombed, killing an 18-month-old and his parents. Five months later, a 21-year-old Jewish settler was indicted for the murders.

Any hint of guilt by association between the unidentified settler in the photo and the settler who murdered three Palestinian family members surely was not coincidental. The New York Times headline beneath the photo asked: “Who Are the True Heirs of Zionism?” The  disturbing  answer was implicit in the location of the photo and the identity of its subject.

In the opening sentence of his Sunday Times article (February 7), former Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger informed readers: “Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies.” Indeed, he continued, “The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried with them the displacement of those already living on the land.” Zionism, for Erlanger, meant dispossession not liberation.

“The true inheritors of Zionism,” he lamented, may no longer be “those who hold to the secular and internationalist vision of the nation’s founders,” committed to universalist values. Rather, they are religious Zionists who, ever since Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War nearly 50 years ago, “see themselves as honoring God’s commandments” to settle in the ancient Land of Israel, biblical Judea and Samaria. But the return of Jews, whether secular or religious, to the biblical homeland of the Jewish people always has been the lodestar of Zionism.

Given Erlanger’s sources his dismay is understandable. For Bernard Avishai, author of The Tragedy of Zionism, religious Zionist settlers callously regard Palestinians as “a distraction on the landscape who will eventually be displaced.” Only “traditional” Zionism – found in high-tech start-ups, new Thai restaurants and “a Hebrew-speaking, pluralistic, thriving Tel Aviv”– offers hope.

Political theorist Yaron Ezrahi, a favorite Times source ever since Thomas Friedman wove his opinions into his own constant criticism of Israel in the mid-Eighties, complains that settlers “give a bad name to Zionism.” Representing “colonialism in a post-colonial era, they have “lost the universal values of Zionism.”

For a semblance of balance Erlanger turned to American-born journalist Yossi Klein Halevi. A youthful follower of Rabbi Meir Kahane who has more recently pursued sources of interdenominational harmony, Halevi is fascinated by the complex interplay of nationalism, theocracy and democracy in Israel, a subtle yet powerful blend of national restoration.

Conspicuously absent from Erlanger’s ostensible quest for “the true heirs of Zionism” are Israelis, secular and religious alike, who band together to collectively transform Israel into a thriving democracy unlike its Arab neighbors and, indeed, many nations that are neither Arab nor neighbors.

The real flaw is embedded in The New York Times, not in Zionism or Israel. For 120 years – not an insignificant number in Jewish reckoning – the Times has struggled with the implications and consequences of  Jewish ownership. An abiding fear of divided loyalty made its publishers apprehensive of Zionism, indifferent to the fate of Jews during the Holocaust, wary of Jewish statehood and relentlessly critical of Israel.

Along the way, successive Jerusalem bureau chiefs, whether or not they were Jewish (but especially if they were), have measured Israel and found it wanting, by their hallowed liberal standards. From Thomas Friedman to Jodi Rudoren, Israel has been subjected to critical scrutiny — and negative judgmental conclusions — that no other nation has endured.

Those who were not Jewish, from David Shipler to Erlanger, absorbed the relentless castigation of Israel that is deeply embedded in Times culture. When it comes to Israel, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” has become all the news that’s fit for criticism. In the pages of the Times, even a solitary Jewish settler, standing on a hilltop overlooking the biblical Land of Israel, becomes the personification of Zionist malevolence.

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

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  • The New York Times does not influence of opinion like it once did, but the observation that it has Jewish ownership is the best argument for NOT having a Jew in the White House, not Michael Bloomberg and certainly NOT Bernie Sanders.

    • andria switzer

      I completely concur and Sanders isn’t a friend at any rate.
      I think the Times has too much influence, and is quoted by all kinds of Jew haters and Israel bashers. Those who hate Jews and Israel have access to too much trash and untruths and they repeat this bigotry on a daily basis. I wonder if there will ever be a time when truth will prevail?

    • mhloutsidebeltway

      Except the owners of the Times are no longer Jewish, or certainly no longer halachically Jewish since the descendants of the Jewish founders intermarried a long time ago. Sadly the only remaining Jewish vestige of the paper is that a majority or at least a near majority of the readers of the paper edition are Jewish. It reveals how totally assimilated New York’s Jews have become and how their true religion is the left-wing of the Democrat Party.

    • naro

      The owners of the of the NYSlimes ARE NOT JEWISH. they are Episcopalians who came from non Jewish mothers. The Editorial chief Rosenthal is a Catholic. There should be a stop to the erroneous belief that the NYSlimes is Jewish owned. THEY HATE JEWS AND ISRAEL THERE!!!

  • Michael Chenkin

    Auerbach has aped the New York Times he supposedly is criticizing in stating “the settler who murdered three Palestinian family members.” A Jewish man has been arrested but as there has been no trial or conviction, a responsible commentator would have said the “alleged” killer. A more responsible commentator would not have even brought this case up at all given all the highly suspicious elements to the case. The arrest is based on a confession after the suspect was subjected to several weeks of “intense” interrogation without access to an attorney, there is no physical evidence linking the suspect to the crime, Arab witnesses claim they saw 2-4 attackers, but the confession has the suspect acting alone, there was a feud on between the attacked family and another clan, the area’s security cameras were all wiped clean. It is doubtful that in an American court a case this weak would even be brought to trial.

  • Marty Cohen

    to the NY Times, your undying support for organizations labeled as terrorist and others who would rather see the Jewish State of Israel not succeed or even vanish from the face of the earth shows that you are neither reporters of the truth nor are you students of history. please review all of the UN agreements concerning the formation of Israel and the lands that were given to the bastard Arabs in concert with our right of self determination. and,PLEASE REMEMBER TO APPLY SUCH JUDGEMENTAL IDEAS EQUALLY ON ALL PARTIES. IN OTHER WORDS DON’T BE AN ASS FOR THE REMAIDER OF YOUR LIVES, YOU HAVE DONE ENOUGH TO DATE.

  • Tuvia Fogel

    The whole NYT editorial board can line up and kiss my Jewish ass.

    • shimon russo

      What she said.