I closely follow the American coverage of the political crisis in Israel, in which Israeli generals have issued historic critiques of the government as fascistic and reminiscent of Nazi Germany, because some pro-Israeli American journalists have historically been less than honest when “reporting” news from that region. How are they going to do with Israel’s latest black eye?
The results haven’t been very encouraging so far. The New York Times has portrayed the crisis fatuously as a “changing of the guard.” Max Boot in Commentary tells us that the battle is “complex and interesting” and only shores up Israel’s reputation as the most moral army in the world. Bret Stephens is essentially a mouthpiece for Benjamin Netanyahu in the Wall Street Journal, saying that the military establishment should shut up and let the “people” rule. While Jeffrey Goldberg, the most important journalist on the subject, has had nothing to say, afraid to condemn Netanyahu too soon lest the Prime Minister demonstrates real staying power.
Reading these articles must be what it was like reading Pravda in the former Soviet Union: You just can’t believe a line. No matter what is going on, apparatchiks are going to spin it in the most positive way, and the reader knows that he or she will only learn the truth by finding samizdat, illegally-circulated reports. If not for Haaretz, the leading Israeli newspaper, no one in America would have any idea what is really going on in Israel.
Now here is the latest and surely the lamest effort of all: Eli Lake’s report on the crisis in Bloomberg, “Netanyahu loses his allies, but keeps his grip on power.” From start to finish this article has one goal: obfuscation about the depth of the crisis in Israel.
The article began with what seems to be an innocent statement.
For most elected leaders, the speech Moshe Ya’alon gave last week at the annual Herzliya conference in Israel would have been devastating. Here Ya’alon, the former defense minister, accused his onetime patron Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of deliberately scaring Israelis in order to stay in power.
Notice that Mr Lake refuses to share with the reader what Netanyahu was “scaring” them with. You need to read Haaretz. Because among the things Ya’alon is accusing Netanyahu of is cheapening the Holocaust to use it for political purposes and “Hitlerization” of regional disputes. Call me anti-semitic, but perhaps Eli Lake doesn’t want to call attention to the part Mr. Lake and other Netanyahu-firsters played in helping Netanyahu do some “scaring” here in the United States last year about the Iran nuclear program.
Some of this can be chalked up to egos.
Egos– not a fight over ideas and policy.
But Ya’alon’s remarks were particularly brutal. “Israel must remain being a Jewish, democratic state, and part of the family of peoples..”
Again, a misrepresentation. The “brutal” part of what Yaalon said– and former PM Ehud Barak, too — is deliberately left out of this article.
But Netanyahu is not like most Western leaders. His office issued a terse response, and the prime minister went on with the dreary work of running the world’s only Jewish state.
Poor Netanyahu, just trying to serve the Jewish people.
In this respect, Ya’alon’s defection is part of a larger pattern. Ehud Barak, the former Labor prime minister who joined Netanyahu’s coalition government (to the consternation of his own party) is now openly calling Netanyahu a fascist….
Ah, nothing to see here. It is all normal politics. And about all the fascism talk that some of his readers might have heard about elsewhere?
One [Netanyahu loyalist] told me… “This is Israel; they call you a fascist if the garbage isn’t picked up on time”.
Eli Lake mocks the faith his readers place in him by doing worse than giving them nonsense; he is actively trying to deceive his readers as to what’s going on in Israel. The reason Netanyahu has been linked to fascism, by men who once worked for him, is that he is the head of a government that publicly supported the uniformed executioner of a prone and helpless Palestinian; and Netanyahu called the killer’s parents in sympathy and publicly described him as one of “our children” — which is very hard to confuse with “taking out the garbage.”
Two of the prime minister’s former chiefs of staff, Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman, broke with Netanyahu and formed their own political parties. The same is true for Moshe Kahlon. While all three today participate in the coalition government under Netanyahu, they campaigned against their former boss bitterly before doing so…
“He is a very lonely man who has the toughest job in the world in the toughest neighborhood in the world,” [Michael] Oren told me last week.
What’s happening now happens all the time. Don’t take the name calling seriously. People who say bad things about Benjamin Netanyahu even join him later. “Lonely man toughest neighborhood.” Yada yada yada.
Part of Netanyahu’s success is that he is very good at campaigning and going around the mainstream media. The media is not always his best friend:
Lake sells Netanyahu short. Not only is he a good campaigner; he is a great campaigner! Look how he bypassed the media and went straight to the people last year with this little gem of a campaign slogan: “Arabs are coming out in droves,” Netanyahu warned Jews in a speech on election day in March 2015.
“I think a lot of the people who’ve come up against Netanyahu, who were his former proteges and allies, are the JV squad,” [Lahav Harkov of Jerusalem Post told me]
The people love Netanyahu; no one else is leadership material.
“He has done a lot of good things for Israel,” [Yair Lapid] said. “The only problem is that the machine has stopped.” Lapid, like many Israeli politicians, believes Netanyahu has been in power for too long.
“The machine has stopped” Whatever that means, that is the only problem with Netanyahu. And thus the article’s brave conclusion:
this gets to the riddle of Netanyahu. He has served more years than any prime minister besides David Ben Gurion, the first man to hold that job. But most Israelis would scoff at comparing him to the father of their nation. Ben Gurion ruled Israel as a visionary. Netanyahu rules Israel today by default.
Bottom line: There might be a couple of legitimate critiques but he is the best man for the job right now.
And that is Eli Lake’s article on what’s going on is Israel today: Where the Jewish citizenry and the prime minister rally behind a medic who kills a Palestinian lying incapacitated in the street, and a top general says this is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and the prime minister reprimands him, and the defense minister quits his job and warns that “fascism” is on the march in the country, and a former Prime Minister says that rightwing zealots have taken the prime minister hostage and he has performed “Hitlerization” of all of Israel’s opponents, including Iran, which poses no real threat to Israel, while others say that Netanyahu has started “superfluous” wars and there could even be a military coup.
The reader finishes this article having been lied to and deceived. Do journalists have tenure? Why would Lake not get fired for this disinformation? And how long will Americans put up with being fed this propagandistic pablum?