It takes me a while to understand stuff I see with my own eyes. In my post last night about CAMERA’s conference on Israel’s Jewish defamers (which I paid $40 to attend), I failed to linger on executive director Andrea Levin’s important speech about Ha’aretz. At some point I will transcribe her comments and provide them. But here is the gist of them.
No other newspaper in Israel matters, Levin says, because Ha’aretz is an elite publication and it has such an amazing English-language website. It is read by millions around the world. "None of the other papers is having international impact." All true.
"We feel directly affected by Haaretz… we feel we should be directly interacting as much as possible… putting more resources into that, because of its direct effect on all of us." I believe that Levin said she had even appealed to government bodies in Israel, including the IDF, to do something about Haaretz stories. The speech ended with the call to arms, for CAMERA members to start pressuring Haaretz. "Write, phone, challenge, speak out… Haaretz is now affecting all of us."
The heart of Levin’s concern was the American discourse. When Haaretz was just published in Israel, CAMERA didn’t care about its statements about the occupation and the destruction of Palestinian hopes and dreams and olive trees. "This all happened in Hebrew… causing little outward impact.."
Outward impact. She means: now Haaretz is affecting U.S. opinion and foreign policy. The most important statement Levin made was that she gets the brushoff from Amos Schocken, the Haaretz publisher, but with the American media, "there is an unwritten contract between them and us." (Verbatim transcript to come later, when I have a little time…) An unwritten contract: to be fair to Israel, to print CAMERA members’ letters, to pick up the phone.
Isn’t that amazing and scandalous? Levin is explaining why there is a free debate in Israel and not here. Because of the lobby and its "unwritten contract." Because U.S. support is crucial to Israel’s existence. And so Americans, who supposedly so love the Middle East democracy that they support it out of the goodness of their hearts, must not read the news from Israel.