Getting at Israel through the Back Door

Richard N. Weltz
As many readers know, the New York Times ran a series of articles on March 19, 20, 21, and 22, by Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner, which depicted Israel in a very unfavorable light. Two of the derogatory pieces, the ones that appeared on March 20, and March 22, emphasized allegations that the Israeli forces had wantonly targeted and killed civilians - the second of them propounding claims that religiously fanatic rabbis were encouraging soldiers to do so as part of some sort of Jewish version of jihad.

It wasn't until nearly ten days later, after the accuracy of such allegations had been debunked elsewhere in the news media, that the Times saw fit to run a quasi-retraction, which it buried inside, unlike the prominent positioning given to the Bronner series.

While the news editors were more or less obligated to admit the hasty inaccuracies of the Bronner pieces, the editorial staff apparently remained unsatisfied with Israel being off the hook on these charges of criminal misbehavior by the IDF. What to do?

Well, what they did was to find a notoriously pro-Palestinian, Israel-basher of long standing, who spreads his propaganda at the University of California's law school in San Francisco. Perhaps the Timesers came across George Bisharat through the anti-Israel rant he had just published (April 1) in the leftist San Francisco Chronicle.

In any event, choosing Saturday, when many of Israel's observant American Jewish supporters don't buy a newspaper, the Times opted to publish a vitriolic Bisharat screed against Israel which, except perhaps for the Chronicle bashing, is the nastiest piece of Israel-bashing I ever recall seeing in a major press venue. It would have been more at home on the pages of Al-Ahram or Al-Hyat or the broadcasts of al-Jazeera than it should have been in a New York broadsheet daily.

The Times editors, who exercise sole discretion on what and what not to publish on their op-ed page, clearly found a backdoor way to slam Israel and damage its cause in a way that didn't work in their news columns and was too severe for them to dare publish as their own editorial commentary.
As many readers know, the New York Times ran a series of articles on March 19, 20, 21, and 22, by Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner, which depicted Israel in a very unfavorable light. Two of the derogatory pieces, the ones that appeared on March 20, and March 22, emphasized allegations that the Israeli forces had wantonly targeted and killed civilians - the second of them propounding claims that religiously fanatic rabbis were encouraging soldiers to do so as part of some sort of Jewish version of jihad.

It wasn't until nearly ten days later, after the accuracy of such allegations had been debunked elsewhere in the news media, that the Times saw fit to run a quasi-retraction, which it buried inside, unlike the prominent positioning given to the Bronner series.

While the news editors were more or less obligated to admit the hasty inaccuracies of the Bronner pieces, the editorial staff apparently remained unsatisfied with Israel being off the hook on these charges of criminal misbehavior by the IDF. What to do?

Well, what they did was to find a notoriously pro-Palestinian, Israel-basher of long standing, who spreads his propaganda at the University of California's law school in San Francisco. Perhaps the Timesers came across George Bisharat through the anti-Israel rant he had just published (April 1) in the leftist San Francisco Chronicle.

In any event, choosing Saturday, when many of Israel's observant American Jewish supporters don't buy a newspaper, the Times opted to publish a vitriolic Bisharat screed against Israel which, except perhaps for the Chronicle bashing, is the nastiest piece of Israel-bashing I ever recall seeing in a major press venue. It would have been more at home on the pages of Al-Ahram or Al-Hyat or the broadcasts of al-Jazeera than it should have been in a New York broadsheet daily.

The Times editors, who exercise sole discretion on what and what not to publish on their op-ed page, clearly found a backdoor way to slam Israel and damage its cause in a way that didn't work in their news columns and was too severe for them to dare publish as their own editorial commentary.