We often complain that the New York Times is laggard in informing Americans about the true face of Israeli society. Well, Isabel Kershner has an excellent piece in the New York Times today about a new plan to fence off Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem originated by what passes for the Israeli left so as to preserve the Jewish state, and Kershner says the campaign has a “jingoistic” flavor. The Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat is quoted calling the plan “racist.”
The contentious plan, promoted by a group of liberal Israeli Jews and adopted in principle by the center-left Labor Party, would unilaterally fence off most of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods and transfer responsibility for their 200,000 residents from City Hall to the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank.
Kicked off with advertisements under the heading “Saving Jewish Jerusalem,” the campaign’s almost jingoistic tone seems intended to appeal to the broadest Jewish constituency, including Israel’s growing political center and conservative “nationalist camp.”…
The new campaign describes Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents as imperiling the security, demographic balance, standard of living and economy of the city. It argues that a majority of people 18 and under in the city are Palestinian and plays on fears raised by the recent surge of Palestinian attacks against Israeli Jews.
Here Kershner quotes a leading leftleaning politician describing Palestinian voters as “the enemy.” And you (and Barack Obama) thought Netanyahu was so bad when he warned that Arabs were going to the polls in droves a year ago!
Haim Ramon, a former minister from Labor and the centrist Kadima Party who is the architect of the new plan, said that if the Arab residents ended their boycott of city elections, the next mayor of Jerusalem would not be Jewish. “If the Palestinians were clever, they would decide, instead of the knife, to use the vote,” he told reporters. “You cannot have a strategy that your enemy will be stupid forever.”
(By the way, Ramon is a guy who converted me when I was new to this subject to the two-state solution nine years ago with a speech to a liberal Zionist group in New York. And look at him, he’s an arrant racist.)
Here’s a former American liberal who became an Israeli rightwinger embracing the racial demographics of the plan:
“Demographically, it’s a compelling argument,” said Michael Oren…
The New York Times should be congratulated for portraying this Israel to American leaders: a racist, segregationist Jewish Israel reminiscent of the Jim Crow south.
Last month at an exhibit of photographs in Soho, Chemi Shalev of Haaretz said the only political hope of the Israeli left to regain the government is to nominate as prime minister the likes of Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi or Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, men with proven military experience (pulverizing Palestinians). This is the same ugly message about Israeli political culture the Times has today.
It is also what Adam Shatz relates in LRB: “The Putinisation of Israel.” Shatz describes the toughening of the Israeli discourse and concludes that the secret of Israel’s aims is finally getting out to the world:
Israel has stubbornly carried on a colonial project at the risk of harming its relations with Europe and the United States, both of which are finally realising that Israel has no intention of making a genuine peace with the Palestinian people.
The Times advances this understanding today.
Thanks to Scott Roth.