Alas, ‘The Times’ echoes rightwing mayor’s language of ‘cleaning up’ Jerusalem

on 16 Comments

Susie Kneedler responds to Ethan Bronner's report in yesterday's Times on Nir Barkat, the rightwing mayor of Jerusalem, and his plans to tear down Palestinian homes near the Old City to make way for park space.

Bronner's "story" is fiction; the news of the continuing destruction of
Palestinian homes is absolutely tragic, as well as unfathomably
aggressive.  But how does Bronner start his narrative of the planned
demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli bulldozers?  With a
Palestinian "terrorist attack" by bulldozer and Jewish "local heroes":

JERUSALEM — The interview was set for 1:30 p.m., but the mayor was
delayed by a terrorist attack. A Palestinian had used a front-end
loader to turn over a police car and ram a bus near Jerusalem’s main
shopping mall. The assailant was gunned down by two off-duty police
officers and a taxi driver. Mayor Nir Barkat rushed to the scene,
consulted with the police and handed out merit pins to the three local

Bronner unfairly frames the episode as incontestably "a terrorist
attack," though no humans were killed except Palestinian man himself.
 Hmmm, what does that mean about the Mayor's meditated destruction of
Palestinian homes by bulldozer [!], let alone about Israeli slaughter
in Gaza? Bronner
asserts that, "The MURDEROUS bulldozer driver had a copy of the Koran on
his seat. His defenders noted that dozens of Arab homes in Jerusalem
were about to be destroyed by the Israeli authorities and called his
act a “natural response”  [my caps]."  Nowhere does Bronner either
identify "his defenders" or hint that they have justice on their side. 
Bronner applies the epithet
"murderous" to the dead man, though he killed no one.
Bronner assigns all negative feelings to Palestinians:

'The problem is
that every breath of air in this city is filled with HISTORICAL
RESENTMENT, and none of the residents of East Jerusalem BELIEVE FOR A SECOND that he [Barkat] is looking out for their welfare.
Protest tents filled with Palestinians whose houses have been torn down
or are about to be destroyed are popping up in neighborhoods like
Silwan, Shuafat and Sheikh Jarrah. ANGER is palpable  [my caps].'

Bronner never allows that the indisputable fact of the Israeli destruction
of their land and homes might justify the Palestinians' perspective. Bronner only tells us surreptitiously–almost haphazardly–about the colossal
destruction of 1500 homes that Barkat plots, by quoting posters on the
tents of already purged, homeless people:

“Barkat, Don’t Become the
Destroyer of Jerusalem,” reads a poster in one such tent. Another says,
“No Tourist Attraction on the Ruins of 1,500 People’s Homes.”  '

Bronner acquiesces to Barkat's racism–particularly Barkat's image of
cleansing Jerusalem, which "must be cleaned up and fattened up with
help from abroad."  Incidentally, what precisely does the "fattened up"
mean?  We all know of some starving children in Gaza who could use some
pasta and hummus–not to mention, soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper. 
Bronner never asks.  Doesn't he care?   Bronner reiterates Barkat's aim
to 'generally clean up what he calls the “wild East.” "
Barkat's detestable verb "clean" has become Bronner's own–so little do
their perspectives apparently differ.  Worse, Bronner characterizes the
mayor's actions as, "Mr. Barkat is bringing a sense of modern renewal
and entrepreneurial spirit to City Hall," a newness and enterprise that
cast out the existing occupants merely because they are of a different
claims that "FOR him [Barkat], Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal and
indivisible capital….All religions must be free to worship in it. But
it must never be shared or divided."  Bronner never questions how "all
religions" can
be free to worship in Jerusalem if the city "must never be shared or
divided," or how any country can decide the future's eternal destiny. 
Bronner doesn't question the sort of tyranny Barkat covets for Israel
and his rule as Mayor: 'What Mr. Segev, like Mr. Barkat, means is both
improving services for the Palestinians and ending any ambiguity about
Jewish dominance.'  What a sinister description of oppression, putting
a stop to any mystery about Jewish–what–victory, supremacy,
despotism?  As Phil, Adam, and many readers have said on
Mondoweiss many times before, how can "Jewish dominance" exist in a

Bronner comments that, 'Mr. Barkat acknowledges only that the issue is
sensitive and that it must be handled in a sensitive, but definitive,
way.'  In other words, Bronner himself announces his bias by supplying
his own extremely dishonest euphemism, "sensitive," to cover up the
facts.  Bronner's repetition of "sensitive" hides the real, confirmable outrage to
international law of Barkat's–Israel's–illegal attacks on Palestinian
and their houses.  Bronner's slimy word "sensitive" disguises as well the violence Barkat and
HIS bulldozers will commit in ruthless, self-aggrandizing theft: the
obliteration of lives and homes.  "Cheerleading sadism" is the only
phrase I can imagine for Bronner's "sensitive, but definitive"
falsehoods about Israel's wanton annihilation of others' existence and

Bronner heartlessly gives Barkat the last, distorted, word:

Palestinians are teaching their children how to be terrorists,” he
said. “They say they want us out. We come to them with a win-win
solution. They come back with a win-lose. The answer is no. I don’t see
any solution that divides Jerusalem.”  ' 

Bronner omits any mention of
International Law or U.N. Resolutions that make Israeli Occupation of
East Jerusalem illegal.  He leaves unexamined Barkat's lie that Barkat
offers people who aren't Jewish a "win-win" when it's actually a
total "lose-lose"–to use Segev's word: "domination" by a conquering
behemoth.  The Caterpillar bulldozer: that is the proper image of the
Greater Israel
for which Barkat spoils and Bronner advertises.

16 Responses

  1. ahmed
    March 22, 2009, 4:04 pm

    Fantastice piece Susie, I wish somebody could make Mr. Bronner read it.

  2. ...
    March 22, 2009, 4:07 pm

    just more propaganda that passes over most peoples heads… it's all in a days business keeping the holy land unholy….

  3. Citizen
    March 22, 2009, 5:20 pm

    The giant, armored Caterpillar bulldozer: that is the proper image of the Greater Israel. Yes, that is the icon. Normal Americans will rue the day they made it, paid for it, gave it free to Israel. Presently, most normal Americans are sleeping.

  4. Dan Kelly
    March 22, 2009, 7:08 pm

    Thank you Susie.

  5. MX
    March 22, 2009, 7:16 pm

    The word "terrorist" is firmly in the center of the Lexicon of Liars.

  6. MX
    March 22, 2009, 7:37 pm

    The MURDEROUS bulldozer driver had a copy of the Koran on his seat.

    He was also listening to the rock music, playing Dungeons & Dragons, and reading EC comics.

    Boy, this article is just a gold mine of ziocaine-addled psychosis (ziopsychosis). It seems more like a paid advertisement than an article. In fact, Bronner even mentions Nir Barkat's 8-day whirlwind tour of the US to promote "biblical theme parks". So maybe it is a paid ad.

    By the way, Bronner's next article is about how limp-wristed hippie liberals are only using the Gaza Massacre to push their agenda. What a wonderful little guy, this Bronner.

  7. Rowan
    March 22, 2009, 8:09 pm

    Bronner sounds a bit like Tom "The World Is Flat" Friedman, doesn't he? His image of a clean Jerusalem would be one full of international style hotels.

  8. asiswhen
    March 22, 2009, 8:28 pm

    speaking of hotels, the Waldorf Astoria is expanding in Jerusalem. I'm sure they'll have a special room there for Bronner.

  9. Shirazi Sophist
    March 22, 2009, 9:07 pm

    Bronner unfairly frames the episode as incontestably "a terrorist attack," though no humans were killed except Palestinian man himself.

    So a "terrorist attack" can only be called that if someone other than the terrorist is killed? Would you prefer "terrorist attempt"?

  10. Rowan
    March 22, 2009, 9:21 pm

    I would prefer dropping the analytically useless, purely emotive, propaganda term "terrorist".

  11. Jim Haygood
    March 22, 2009, 9:23 pm

    Christ, I thought Susie was making up them quotes, till I read the linked Bronner article in the Slimes. Bronner's polished, bone-deep racism makes it sound like Mayor Barkat is actually doing the benighted Palestinians in East Jerusalem a favor by 'cleaning up' their neighborhoods. Much as in the mid-sixties U.S., when 'urban renewal' was a respectable-sounding euphemism for 'bulldozing minority-infested slums.'

    Here is a particularly pellucid example, in Bronner's slick apologia, of the Israeli tendency to regard Palestinians as non-persons — 'In several East Jerusalem neighborhoods these days, demolition orders are being issued … infuriating those who wish to see Jerusalem shared as the capital of two states.' WHOA, did you catch the giant logical leap there, from the mundane to the abstract?

    Those 'infuriated' by the demolition orders are those who are losing their homes. But Bronner edits out these faceless victims, artfully transferring the privilege of legitimate anger to erudite Times readers, vexed at yet another obstacle arising to trip up their oh-so-enlightened two-state solution. Drat, one hardly feels like nipping down to the country club for tea, after such distressing news.

    Of course, as they say in the IT industry, Bronner's effortless Kosher Jim Crow supremacism isn't a bug, it's a feature. One-third of the Times' readership is estimated to be Jewish. This ain't no 'newspaper of record;' it's a perfervid, doctrinaire émigré rag.

  12. tree
    March 22, 2009, 9:37 pm

    So a "terrorist attack" can only be called that if someone other than the terrorist is killed?

    The IDF and the municipality of Jerusalem(controlled by Jewish Israelis) bulldoze Palestinian cars and houses on a regular basis, sometimes wounding or killing Palestinians when they do so. Can we call them "terrorists" now? Or are you calling for a double standard? When a Palestinian does exactly what hundreds of Jewish Israelis have done for decades, that makes him a "terrorist"? Its not the action, its the ethnicity? Sounds pretty racist to me.

  13. kylebisme
    March 22, 2009, 10:34 pm

    If you bother to check a dictionary, you'll find "terrorist" suits many on both sides of this conflict. However, this case sounds more like just some guy who couldn't take the BS any longer and snapped.

  14. Chris Berel
    March 22, 2009, 11:41 pm

    "Bronner unfairly frames the episode as incontestably "a terrorist attack," though no humans were killed except Palestinian man himself."

    Why Do Phil's Phools insist that a Jew be killed before it is labeled a terrorist attack? Does palestinian incompetence warrant praise?

  15. AmericanQuery
    March 23, 2009, 10:29 am

    Why do Chris's Stools insist that a non-Jew's death is never the result of a terrorist attack under color of state law? Does Israeli use of free USA weapons, paid for by USA taxpayers, never warrant criticism?

  16. Eurosabra
    March 23, 2009, 4:11 pm

    Okay, he might get some points as a "resistance fighter" for going after the police car, but trying to smash a bus is pretty clearly a terror attack. Demolition of illegally-built homes, whether Palestinian (or more rarely, in underserved "Jewish" communities that build without permits) tends to occur when the houses are UNoccupied by their residents.

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