Sunday, May 26, 2024

The DEI vs. Zionist Intranecine Conflict Continues More Publicly...,

NYTimes  |  The New York Times is astonishing its readers, especially those of us who monitor its tradition of biased and dishonest reporting about Israel/Palestine. The paper just published a long indictment of what it actually called “Jewish terrorism” against Palestinians. The report, which is the cover story of the widely-circulated Sunday magazine, is titled: “The Unpunished: How Extremists Took Over Israel.” Here is the opening paragraph of the “takeaway” synopsis that ran along with the actual article:

“For decades, most Israelis have considered Palestinian terrorism the country’s biggest security concern. But there is another threat that may be even more destabilizing for Israel’s future as a democracy: Jewish terrorism and violence, and the failure to enforce the law against it.” 

The massive article, by Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, prints out to 52 pages. It covers decades of history, and includes more than 100 interviews. Bergman has long had ties to Israel’s intelligence services, and he includes inside sources. “This story is told in three parts. . .,” the reporters say. “Taken together they tell the story of how a radical ideology moved from the fringes to the heart of Israeli political power.” 

Howard French, the distinguished former New York Times reporter turned author, asked the obvious question on Twitter

“Where was the daily coverage of the Times throughout all of this?”

French’s view was echoed in the paper’s comment section. “Jack” was one of the 2500 Times readers who have already overwhelmingly endorsed the article. He wrote: “. . . I am struck by this piece being the only one I can recall to make consistent use of the term ‘terrorism’ to describe the actions of Jewish Israelis. It is far more common to hear settlers who commit violence against unarmed civilians referred to as ‘extremists’ rather than ‘terrorists.’” 

So why did the Times print this long report, which does actually start to correct decades of its biased coverage? In time, leaks from people on the paper’s staff may provide part of the answer. But surely the pro-Palestine solidarity movement, along with alternative media, can claim some of the credit. In the Internet age, it is much harder to cover up the truth. First hand accounts from Gaza, the occupied Palestinian West Bank, and from Israel itself, are now widely available, and the student protesters and others have spread the word. Add to that internal dissension at the Times itself, and so top management there may have decided the paper had to act if its reputation wasn’t going to be completely tarnished.

A related question: Ronen Bergman has long had well-placed sources inside Israel’s intelligence elite. Very little of what is in this long Times article is new; much of the reporting is about events that happened decades ago. So why did Bergman decide — now — to report on what is basically old news? And why did his sources, who include former Israeli prime ministers, decide — now — to talk to the New York Times?

A valuable post on this site in March 2023 by the eloquent Razi Nabulse offers a clue. Nabulse probed behind the headlines to explain why Israeli Jews last year joined the massive uprising against the effort by Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right wing allies to stage a “coup” against the country’s legal system. The protesters represented the old Israeli elite, who are losing political power to the religious far right and the increasingly powerful settler/colonists. It is this old elite that Bergman quoted at length in this long report. The Times may be trying to protect this older “good” Israel from Netanyahu and his “bad” allies, who are the greatest threat to the country’s international standing in many decades.

It is too early to celebrate the Times‘s possible change in direction. First we will have to see if the paper, or other mainstream U.S. media, do any follow up. The adage used to be that “yesterday’s newspaper wraps today’s fish,” and the online attention span can also be short. It is possible that this story will die down in a few days, and the Times will go back to its old distortion methods. We shall see.


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