Phil Weiss and James North write In Mondoweiss ( https://mondoweiss.net) today about the NYT slowly shaking off its willfull blindness and covering the actual reality of Palestinian decades long occupation and humiliation.The reason is simple. The “paper of record” is situated in the heart of Zionist power in the world, New York city and for far too long capitulated to Israeli hasbara instead of printing the truth.It regularly gives a podium to powerful non-Jews as Mayor deBlasio and the odious Cuomo brothers who talk liberal—except for Palestine. Shamelessly and cowardly they bend their knees to the apartheid state despite the evidence which can no longer be denied.They know which side their bread is buttered on.Prophetic, they are not.
Then there is the biggest hypocrite of them all the man who says he is on “a mission from God to be Israel’s guardian in the Senate,”Chuck Schumer who weeps for Central American children but sheds no tears for the incredible suffering of Palestinians.
The Times yes they are a changin’ but they still give way too much space to Zionist true believers s like Bari Weiss and to the former edtor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, Bret Stephens. Michelle Goldberg on the other hand has written “it ’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot. Indeed, it’s increasingly absurd to treat the Israeli state as a stand-in for Jews writ large, given the way the current Israeli government has aligned itself with far-right European movements that have anti-Semitic roots.”
North and Weiss
We are as critical of the New York Times as anyone, but we need to salute the superb report in the newspaper by David Halbfinger on a liberal Zionist trip for American Jews to see the occupation. Titled, “Touring the Israeli Occupation: Young U.S. Jews Get an Unflinching View,” the July 10 article offered horrifying glimpses of Palestinian conditions in Susiya and Hebron that left the young Jews staggered.
The article was about a very lukewarm tour of the occupation indeed, by the Zionist group J Street, which wants the visitors to engage in Israel advocacy back home, and wants to influence the more rightwing Jewish trips to Israel, notably Birthright, to stop off in Palestine.
But the thrust of the article was that one day’s exposure to the desolation of occupation caused two young Jews to question Zionism itself.
As the day grew long, the facial expressions more pained and the questions more anguished, the J Street tour seemed increasingly incompatible with Birthright’s goal of hooking young American Jews on Israel.
By dinnertime, two participants said they were reconsidering their belief in a Jewish state. Jesse Steshenko, 19, of Santa Cruz, Calif., who has a Star of David tattooed on his right wrist, said he was “disgusted” with Israel’s government.
“I came in here a very ardent Zionist,” he said. “You never know when a Holocaust might happen again. Yet, coming here, I’m starting to doubt whether a two-state solution is possible — and whether Zionism is even worth pursuing anymore.”
As for Liyah Foye, 19, a senior at UNC-Asheville: “what she saw on Sunday overwhelmed her: ‘My joy and my light shouldn’t be coming from someone else’s darkness,’ she said.”
Halbfinger chose a very Zionist Jewish lens for his tour, of course, and endeavored to undo some of his damage by suggesting the trip had “blindsided” the young Jews with the occupation. It goes without saying that the Times is very late to this story. Brief exposure to the Israeli occupation for both of us 13 years ago and more transformed our work as journalists. There’s nothing like seeing Jim Crow with your own two eyes. A friend who just returned from the Eyewitness Palestine trip to Palestine says that there was at least one middle-of-the-road American on the trip who left the country shaking his head over human rights abuses he’d never imagined to be so extreme.
But the reason that seeing Palestine up close comes as such a shock is that the media and leading pro-Israel organizations (including J Street) have done such an effective job of downplaying Israel’s occupation over the last several decades, even as Palestinians were trying to get out the news. The Times just “took a sharp left turn into territory where Birthright does not go,” as Halbfinger wrote of the tour. The article is getting angry pushback from pro-Israel groups.
His report represents a giant step forward, and a real sign of things to come. There’s no way to prettify apartheid, and as more Democrats and activist groups are looking at this issue openly, we should expect our leading papers and even broadcast media to begin to reflect the reality.