NY Times gives platform to notorious self-hating Israeli

At first blush, Avraham Burg might seem to have the right credentials to write an opinion piece in the New York Times about Israel's past, present and future -- former speaker of Israel's parliament; author of a book about the Holocaust and chairman of the" Center for Renewal of Democracy."  At least, that's the way the Times sums up his bona fides in the Sunday Review Section of its Aug. 5 edition atop an article  titled, "Israel's Fading Democracy."

But don't be fooled by those Burg bio credits.   Once upon a time, Burg rose to political prominence in leftist Israeli politics.  But no more.  In recent years, he has become increasingly isolated as an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist crank who blinds himself to existential dangers faced by his country from the likes of Iran, Hezbb'llah and Hamas, and instead unleashes a flood of blame-Israel screeds.

For example, in an interview with Haaretz, Burg opined that "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end."  For good measure, to cleanse Israel of its Jewishness, he favors abrogating the Law of Return, which unconditionally opens its doors to  any and all Jewish immigrants.

But since the Times shares many of his over-the-top anti-Zionist views, it's not surprising that the paper gives him prominent exposure in the Sunday paper.

So Burg gets to expound on his gloom-and-doom forecasts that Israel is headed for the abyss.  Iran may be working overtime to develop nuclear weapons while its leaders call for the eradication of the Jewish state, but in Burg's view, it's Israel that pursues a "misguided war with Iran" and Netanyahu who is a "warmongering prime minister."  With Iran's Ahmadinejad and his anti-Semitic pronouncements, Burg finds no fault.

Should friends of Israel prod the Obama administration to be more supportive of Israel?  Forget it.  "Those who love Israel should be doing the opposite:  helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself," Burg writes.

Unlike other democracies, he bemoans, Israel lacks a constitutional system of checks and balances, allowing its Jewish character to overwhelm its democratic identity - if this trend continues, "all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become "just another Middle East theocracy."  No mention that Israel's fiercely independent Supreme Court has managed to provide more checks and balances than can be found in most democracies.

Not surprisingly, Burg also fails to give Israel any credit for granting a sizeable measure of self-government to the Palestinians in both the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority and to Hamas, which rules Gaza by dint of Israel's unilateral withdrawal.  Burg instead sees only "the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will."  As if Palestinian autonomy pursuant to Oslo never happened.

Newspapers are entitled to print opinion pieces, even those that purvey crackpot views like Burg's.  But the Times also has an obligation to fact-check such opinions - which it has failed to do before publishing Burg's piece.

Just one example:  Burg writes that Israel is a "country that expels or purifies itself of its minorities, which are the original inhabitants of the land."  This is the classic Ahmadinejad lie - that Jews in Israel are belated arrivals fleeing European persecution and displacing the original inhabitants - i.e. the Palestinians.

Of course, when it comes to original inhabitants, Jews can trace their presence in the Holy Land  back more than 3,000 years ago - when for nearly a millennium Jewish monarchs ruled and, even after the Roman conquest, there has been a continuous Jewish presence there for the last 2,000 years.   Palestinians and Arabs don't even come close to such lengthy historical provenance.

  In the indigenous Holy Land sweepstakes, there actually have been some nations that preceded Jewish sovereignty - the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites.  Unfortunately for Burg, they all disappeared without leaving any progeny.

When it comes to sovereignty claims based on indigenous criteria, Jews win hands down - notwithstanding Burg's fabrications and the Times allowing him to peddle such falsehoods, which the Palestinian propaganda machine is only too happy to disseminate far and wide.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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