Haaretz is a small-circulation Israeli daily with huge influence about the Jewish state's image across the world. Within Israel, it's the most leftist of all mass media, denouncing any and all politicians who are not ready to cede as much land as possible to the Palestinians. Not only does Haaretz instill its anti-Zionist propaganda in editorials and commentaries, but also in coloring its "news" articles to fit its radical, ideological agenda.
In Israel, Haaretz's influence is negligible. It basically follows the party line of far-left Meretz, but that party has shriveled to insignificance in recent elections.
Where Haaretz causes the gravest damage to Israel is abroad -- in dispatches of maintream media correspondents, who regard its English edition as their bible and copiously cite and quote Haaretz in their Israel-bashing reports as a supposedly unimpeachable source.
Readers, however, should be on guard. In pursuit of its own ultra-leftist bent, Haaretz often goes beyond spins to downright falsehoods in attacking Israel's rightful place in the Promised Land.
Here's but the latest example of how Haaretz bends and distorts truth against the Jewish state.
In its July 25 edition, it reports on a YouTube video posted by Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, titled "The Truth About the West Bank." In the short video, which already has racked up more than 120,000 views, Ayalon concedes that Israel has been remiss in not challenging the fictional Palestinian narrative about rightful ownership of Jerusalem and the West Bank.
To set the record straight, Ayalon highlights -- with simple but catchy illustrations -- mainstream media references to East Jerusalem and the West Bank as "occupied territories." Not so, he declares, these are not "occupied" lands, but "disputed" lands. Why? For the simple reason that before their capture by Israel in its defensive war against Arab armies in 1967, they didn't belong to the Palestinians. There was no Palestine. These areas had been illegally "occupied" by Jordan in1948 - 49 -- a Jordanian occupation that, with the exception of a couple of nations, the international community never recognized. For a sovereign owner of East Jerusalem and the West Bank before 1967, one has to go back to the Ottoman Empire, which disappeared after World War I.
Ayalon also takes on the Palestinian narrative about 1967 "borders" -- a fallacious term universally used by mainstream media. There were no "borders" in 1967, he points out, only a line based on a 1949 armistice, which stipulated that said line did not imply endorsement of international borders.
And furthermore, Ayalon also takes issue with another favorite semantic distortion in mainstream media -- the constant reference to Israeli "illegal settlements" in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Since this is "disputed" territory, he points out, the existence of settlements doesn't rise to any level of illegality.
Ayalon ends by noting that settlements and final "borders" are indeed proper topics for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but that in the meantime, it's essential that Israel challenge fictional Palestinian narratives that are peddled uncritically by mainstream media.
Ayalon's video, a big hit on YouTube, drew a sharp retort from Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians' chief propagandist, who insisted that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are "occupied" territories and that Jewish settlements are "illegal" -- without providing a shred of legal or historical evidence for such canards.
Haaretz reports all this, but adds its own pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel spin. It ends up telling readers that negotiations are on hold, with Palestinians conditioning renewal of talks on a unilateral Israeli construction freeze "in the OCCUPIED West Bank and East Jerusalem."
In short, Haaretz lines up squarely with the Palestinians' demonstrably false propaganda, letting Ayalon know that the paper's ideological agenda against Israel tops any obeisance to accuracy.
As far as Haaretz is concerned, it will continue to spew Palestinian propaganda, regardless of Israel's factual historical and legal rights in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In the process, Haaretz also sends a not so subtle signal to Western media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post , that they can continue to rely on its misnamed "news" columns as sources for their own Israel-bashing coverage.