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‘NYT’ Travel section features visit to another planet

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There’s a piece called “Lost in Jerusalem” on the front page of the NYT Travel section. The author is travel writer Matt Gross, who says as a Jew he regarded Israel as “a politically iffy burden” and therefore did not visit it till last fall, when a Jewish friend challenged him and he felt life “calling my bluff.” And then the iffiness gave way to splendiferousness. A reader writes:

The Old City of Jerusalem is made out to be in Israel. There is only the vaguest reference to Arab East Jerusalem. He describes the wall as separating Israel from the West Bank–a clear error.

The low beige buildings of Arab East Jerusalem covered the hills in the near distance, and on clear days I could see the sinuous, ominous wall separating Israel from the West Bank.

The New York Times describes this wall as separating Israel and the West Bank.In fact it separates occupied East Jerusalem from other portions of occupied East Jerusalem

He talks about coming out of Yad Vashem and seeing “a picture-perfect valley, a white-washed village clinging to the far slope. I stared at it a long time before I could move on.” This is presumably where the ethnically-cleansed village of Deir Yassin was.

The shallowness of his visit is repeatedly established, perhaps one consequence of his determination to see the place “without benefit of map or guidebook.” Israeli security measures are described as “fascinating.” I can’t see that word springing to mind for Palestinians subjected to them.

But leave I did, often well after 1 a.m., late enough that the Israeli guards in the Old City would interrogate and search me on my way back to the guesthouse. As an occasional experience, the security measures were fascinating, much more thorough and intelligent than the cursory T.S.A. sweeps I’m used to. I could also sense the tension they created, and again found myself amazed at what true believers will do, and submit to, in the name of their faith.

And oh, there’s one reference to 1967:

The transition from Old City to new was striking. Exiting through one of the 16th-century gates that still control access — touristy Jaffa Gate, busy Damascus Gate, historic Zion Gate, where Israeli soldiers entered in 1967 — I leapt forward into a distinctly modern world of crosswalks and traffic lights, 19th-century buildings and chunky apartment towers, green parks and municipal offices, falafel joints, cellphone stores and a brand-new light-rail system.

The word Palestine does not appear in the piece. Palestinian appears twice:

I passed Palestinian women selling bundles of sage near Damascus Gate…

I bellied up, ordered the excellent Palestinian “upside-down” chicken-and-rice dish, and quizzed the bartender

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32 Responses

  1. Avi_G.
    January 15, 2012, 12:23 pm

    But leave I did, often well after 1 a.m., late enough that the Israeli guards in the Old City would interrogate and search me on my way back to the guesthouse. As an occasional experience, the security measures were fascinating, much more thorough and intelligent than the cursory T.S.A. sweeps I’m used to. I could also sense the tension they created, and again found myself amazed at what true believers will do, and submit to, in the name of their faith.

    This is the Israelification of America. Israeli security is sold to audiences in the US as a marvel of modern technology and of Israeli ingenuity, sophistication and efficiency.

    In that respect — among others like the author’s treatment of Deir Yassin — the NYT article is insidious and disgusting. Hogwash is what it is.

    • Charon
      January 15, 2012, 5:44 pm

      That illusion sold to Americans regarding the ‘marvel’ of Israeli security allows Israeli technology to become the backbone of very sensitive places in American security. Apparently even some of our voting machines are controlled by Israeli-owned security companies. I would be shocked if these weren’t ‘trojan horses’ in any sort of way. When American consensus finally stops drinking this kool aid such as the NYT piece, it isn’t going to be nice.

      • Pixel
        January 16, 2012, 1:18 am

        Israel is legendary in the security and intelligence field. ICTS International /Huntsleigh USA (a wholly owned subsidiary), registered in the Netherlands, has been owned owned by Ezra Harel and Menachem Atzmon, both Israeli Jews.

        ICTS airport security company ran the security at Dulles, Logan, and Newark airports in Sept. 2001, when nineteen Arabs allegedly boarded four different planes carrying boxcutters, mace, and reportedly, also a gun.

        ICTS International also ran security at Charles De Gualle Airport in Paris when Richard Reid the “shoe bomber” boarded a plane there , as well as at Amsterdam’s Schiphol when the Nigerian “crotch bomber” headed for Detroit, Christmas 2009.

        Shortly before Congress voted on the Patriot Act, it was amended to give immunity to foreign companies in charge of security on 9/11. As a result, American courts were barred from requesting ICTS testimony or that the missing surveillance videos from the airports be handed over .

        Just sayin’

      • dahoit
        January 16, 2012, 12:20 pm

        Aint it all a just kick in the head?

  2. Philip Weiss
    January 15, 2012, 1:14 pm

    Thanks Avi. I agree. It is hard to summon the feeling of seeing this sort of article in the American press. And yes I think it has to do with the demographics of the NYT’s audience, which includes a lot of advertisers and readers who will identify with this “seeker’s” path to Jerusalem

  3. Donald
    January 15, 2012, 1:22 pm

    It had the feel of a conversion narrative of sorts–I used to fear going to Israel and wanted to keep my distance, but when I went there it was wonderful. Hallelujah. No blinding light on the way to Damascus or child’s voice saying “Take up and read” (wrong religion), just a secular guy finding that Jerusalem has some really cool sites to visit. A conversion narrative for the Travel section of the NYT.

    He never made it clear what had caused his earlier distancing or why the touristy stuff would change his view.

  4. American
    January 15, 2012, 1:27 pm

    He is on a different planet.

  5. Winnica
    January 15, 2012, 1:59 pm

    Here’s another one. A non-Jew from Australia who went to Israel and learned that things there are considerably better than the media had led him to believe.

    It’s possible the Israelis have the power to blind their visitors. It’s also possible that the reality is actually not what the readership of this website believes it to be.

    • Donald
      January 15, 2012, 2:24 pm

      “It’s also possible that the reality is actually not what the readership of this website believes it to be.”

      The NYT article said precisely nothing of any relevance to the conflict. Nobody that I’m aware of denies that you can have a pleasant vacation in Israel.

      Your article is the usual one-sided non-sequitur–Israel is good on gay rights and Shalit was a prisoner for a long time and therefore Israel is great. That’s the gist.

      • Winnica
        January 15, 2012, 2:56 pm

        Not long ago a Palestinian friend of mine connected me with a friend of his, the mayor of one of the larger West Bank settlements, whom I had lost contact with more than 20 years ago. All three of us had a chuckle over that one.

        There is nothing on this website to explain the possibility of such a story, and now that I’ve mentioned it, it will be explained away as irrelevant, insignificant, and untrue. Yet it is true, it did happen, and it’s actually not as surprsing or unusual as you’d think. The reality in Israel/Palestine is much more complex, nuanced and subtle than the readership of this website is willing to contemplate.

      • Pamela Olson
        January 15, 2012, 3:32 pm

        Not sure what you’re playing at, but I lived in the West Bank for two and a half years, and though there are anecdotes of “normalization” of the occupation such as the ones you put forth, that doesn’t mean the occupation isn’t a gross, horrifying, never-ending series of violations of basic human rights. If a black South African was friends with a white South African who stole another black South African’s land, does this mean Apartheid was OK?

        You are just being silly.

      • Robert
        January 15, 2012, 4:03 pm

        This is a website that brings out the ugliness of the occupation and the reality of Apartheid to an audience that is numbed-out by Hasbara and the mainstream media. It’s immensely important for that reason.

        Anecdotes like the one you mention only serve to smear out and blur the reality of the occupation.

        In any I-P discussion, if the discussion ends with “there’s wrong on both sides”, or “it sure is a complicated situation in the Middle East”, then Israel has essentially won. Serious injustice will continue. Most importantly, war will continue, 9-11’s will continue, because we are unable to address the causes, due to our critical faculties being blinded by propaganda.

      • Winnica
        January 16, 2012, 1:23 am

        I think not, Robert. This is a website which is stridently hostile to any concept of Jewish nationalism whatsoever, irrespetive of the borders of 1967. And it’s an eager purveyor of of dark ideas about the devious power that Jews wield over the rest of the world. It’s also a hotbed of conspiracy theories. It is full of irrational notions about Jews and their history, and its readership routinely reject any empirical evidence which doesn’t fit their notions. All in all it’s a fascinating website, but not for the “truth” it tells about the Israelis or the Palestinains, rather for the window it opens on a certain frame of mind which can be found on the fringes of contemporary America.

      • Donald
        January 16, 2012, 7:41 am

        “Not long ago a Palestinian friend of mine connected me with a friend of his, the mayor of one of the larger West Bank settlements, whom I had lost contact with more than 20 years ago. All three of us had a chuckle over that one. There is nothing on this website to explain the possibility of such a story, and now that I’ve mentioned it, it will be explained away as irrelevant, insignificant, and untrue.”

        What in your story needs to be explained? Seriously. I grew up in the South just after Jim Crow and a white friend of mine was good friends with a black guy in the high school band. I happen to know that that white guy was also a racist. Real life is complicated. Wow, bet you didn’t see that coming.
        And no, I’m not claiming that your West Bank mayor is necessarily a racist by implication, though being a West Bank mayor is a strike against him.

        Besides, the news story you linked had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that ordinary people tend to be complicated, with friendships that span political divisions and sometimes holding contradictory views. Your news story was the standard BS from a pro-Israeli perspective that put virtually all the blame on the situation on the Arab side.

        I just saw Cliff’s post below about your writer. Not surprising at all.

      • Philip Weiss
        January 16, 2012, 9:56 am

        this comment needs a good soundtrack

      • Donald
        January 16, 2012, 10:37 am

        “It’s also a hotbed of conspiracy theories.”

        “All in all it’s a fascinating website, but not for the “truth” it tells about the Israelis or the Palestinains, rather for the window it opens on a certain frame of mind which can be found on the fringes of contemporary America.”

        I’m not a believer in some of the theories that some commenters put forth around here, but you’re just using that as as excuse to dismiss the central message of the blog–that Israel is the one mainly at fault in the I/P conflict, and that the American media and political class is biased against the Palestinian side because of the Israel Lobby. And then claiming to be someone who is reasonable you link to an article that could have been written by Alan Dershowitz or Abe Foxman, something so one-sidedly against the Palestinians it was laughable.

      • Hostage
        January 17, 2012, 2:33 am

        I think not, Robert. This is a website which is stridently hostile to any concept of Jewish nationalism whatsoever, irrespetive of the borders of 1967.

        I could care less if there is one state or three, so long as they afford all of the inhabitants equal human rights. Jewish nationalism, as practiced by the State of Israel, stridently refuses to do that.

        Normal people are opposed to any form of nationalism that leads to home demolitions numbering in the tens of thousands, forced transfers and deportations numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and apartheid laws that discriminate against or persecute another ethnic group where ever they’ve been scattered or confined. German nationalists were hanged for doing all of those things.

        Nobody mourned the passing of white nationalism in the Union of South Africa or its National Party’s apartheid platform. No one is going to apologize for condemning the current state of affairs in Israel. It is a state that denies others the right of self-determination; the right to liberty of movement and residency; the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing; the right to just and favorable conditions of work; the right to an education; the right to health; the right to liberty and security of person; the rights to freedom of opinion and of association; and the right to life.

    • Cliff
      January 15, 2012, 5:40 pm

      Pamela Olson’s response to ‘Winnica’ is perfect.

      Winnica is describing the normalization and banality of the occupation and colonization of Palestinian land for the past 45 years.

      More importantly and totally unsurprisingly, the author Winnica cited has, in ascending order (2009 to the present), never been at some point more critical of Israel than he is presently due to supposed media misrepresentation:

      *****Article : Matured Netanyahu is Ready to Rule :

      I first met Netanyahu in the mid-1980s when he was Israel’s ambassador to the UN. He was already a media super star because of his eloquence, especially on American TV, and his sharp, quick style.

      My single strongest memory from that meeting was his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state. But what future do you envisage eventually for the Palestinians?, I kept asking in different ways. He wouldn’t answer directly but a common Israeli position then was that one day, far into the future, most of the West Bank would revert to Jordanian rule, and most of Gaza to Egypt, the status those territories enjoyed before 1967.

      I was not sure that this was Netanyahu’s position, however, as he was determined not to state one clearly.

      There’s no doubt he’s as charming and smart as anyone in international politics, with a high-gloss American education in economics. He is a man of diverse parts. He has been married three times and there is a whiff of the playboy or sybarite about him, although he served five years in one of Israel’s elite military units. He can also stroll down the shelves of the greatest libraries of Judaica in the world and tell you something about almost every book there.

      In 2003 I had a long discussion with Netanyahu in his Jerusalem office, at a time when he was Israel’s foreign minister.

      His chief thought about the West Bank then was that Yasser Arafat’s rule had to come to an end if there was to be any progress between Israel and the Palestinians.

      “We have to put an end to ‘Arafatistan’ next door,” he told me. How would you do that, I asked. Again, there was no direct reply.

      Yet, and here is the terribly important thing, when Netanyahu was prime minister he felt himself bound by the Oslo Accords, engaged in negotiations with Arafat, withdrew from much of Hebron, and tried hard to negotiate a peace deal with Syria.

      Although he has never espoused a Palestinian state, as Livni does, he has made it clear that he is willing to accept one if it means an end to Palestinian terrorism against Israel and an end of Palestinian territorial claims. His position, therefore, is not the polar opposite of Livni’s. Rather, she emphasises the positive goal in an attempt to encourage Palestinian opinion; Netanyahu emphasises Israel’s willingness to put up with a hard, difficult security situation indefinitely rather than make concessions that do not end terrorism.

      The difference is almost this simple: Livni says stop terrorism and you get a state, Netanyahu says stop terrorism or you don’t get a state.

      Similarly, Netanyahu’s position on Jewish settlements in the West Bank is really not so controversial. He says settlements can expand within their existing boundaries but not take any new Palestinian land. It is a common position among all Israeli politicians that some Jewish settlements — the close Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem, for example — will be retained by Israel in any final settlement (in exchange for other land given up from Israel proper). Therefore if these settlements expand, upwards as it were, more people within the same area, it doesn’t affect peace prospects. The government of which Livni was a minister allowed this.

      Bill Clinton’s former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross has produced an exhaustive record of his work, The Missing Peace. He provides a fascinating account of Netanyahu and describes what he regards as Netanyahu’s self-confidence, which he regards as sometimes straying into hubris. Perhaps chutzpah is the better word.

      But two passages on Netanyahu are particularly instructive. Ross writes: “When apprised of the problems he would be creating, Bibi almost always looked for practical ways to overcome them.”

      *****Article : Barak Balances Israel’s Rightward Tilt :

      Many Israelis are a bit condescending about Livni, whom they disparage as a lightweight compared to the giants of the past. But her extraordinary achievement in securing 28 members of the Knesset has transformed her stature. A long-term foreign minister, she is developing into a bit of a modern-day Shimon Peres, the most foreigner-friendly face of any Israeli government. This means earlier predictions Kadima would probably collapse in opposition with its former Labour people going back to Labour and its former Likud people going back to Likud may well be entirely wrong. Livni will be opposition leader and alternative prime minister.

      Livni may just have convinced her followers, and Israelis generally, that Kadima has a future. And she could still be crucial in any real emergency. But it is Netanyahu’s manouevres on the right that are perhaps most fascinating, and show him at his shrewdest.

      He has brought in both Yisrael Beiteinu, under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman, and two orthodox religious parties.

      Lieberman is best known internationally for his anti-Arab rabble-rousing, especially his call for Israeli Arabs to take a loyalty oath to the state of Israel. But when he was a minister in a previous government, he was much more restrained, which suggests Lieberman, a very shrewd player, well understands the difference between opposition and government. But many Russian immigrants vote for Lieberman not so much because of his security stance but because he wants to secularise Israel and reduce the influence of the rabbis, especially in questions of marriage and divorce and rulings over who is and who is not a Jew.

      *****Article : Tehran on Path to Our Destruction :

      Stand by for some bad news. No, I mean really bad news. The world is not going to apply crippling sanctions to Iran. Even if it did, Iran would not be deterred from developing nuclear weapons. The only way that Iran can be significantly delayed in its pursuit of nuclear weapons is through an Israeli air strike on its nuclear facilities.

      I think the chances of an Israeli attack are somewhat less than 50-50. Even with an air strike, the likelihood is you would delay rather than prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons. Don’t get me wrong, a delay is much better than no delay, but the balance of probabilities is that Iran will ultimately have a nuclear arsenal.

      […]Most Western analysts refuse to take Islamic religion seriously as a factor in geopolitics, assuming there must always be a rational national-interest explanation for any state’s behaviour.

      The truth is that history is littered with states behaving irrationally and pursuing irrational ends, and doing so in often self-destructive ways. In Mao’s China tens of millions of people died in famines directly caused by state policy. North Korea has driven its people into starvation. Pol Pot not only committed genocide on his own people, he then attacked Vietnam so that it would destroy him. Saddam Hussein was such a canny, realist calculator of the odds that his regime ended up gone and he ended up dead.

      It is intensely ahistorical to believe political regimes will always act according to Western conceptions of enlightened self-interest.

      Iran believes the US is the Great Satan and Israel the little Satan. Its leadership came to power with intensely theocratic political programs. There is no evidence it has ever deviated from the idea of achieving nuclear weapons. There is some evidence that in 2003, scared by the American invasion of Iraq, it temporarily suspended the formal weaponisation part of the program.

      The West has invested enormous hope in the democratic opposition inside Iran, and these heroic people deserve our support.

      *****Article : No Saddam-sized sanctions on Iran :

      Politically, the regime of the ayatollahs looks to have all but snuffed out its domestic opposition, which rose heroically and received no serious international support. Ahmadinejad is a hit in many Muslim countries and in much of Latin America. He controls terror proxy armies in Hezbollah and Hamas, has a tight alliance with Syria and a deepening economic partnership with China. He and his allies have been smart in the campaign to delegitimise Israel. Iran too now plans to send “civilian” ships to bring aid to Gaza. Tehran has successfully changed its rhetoric on Israel, no longer depicting it as a powerful enemy but rather a besieged outpost with faltering US support. This is a very self-confident regime. These sanctions are almost completely useless.

      *****Article : Discordant voices in a land without peace :

      The Israeli government — never mind the broader Israeli society — is torn by contradictory visions of how it might deal with the Palestinians.

      The Palestinian leadership — itself divided not only between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza, but much more deeply within each of those entities — is unsure of its direction, weak in authority and fixated on campaigning internationally rather than negotiating directly with the Israelis.

      WikiLeaks [My interjection in his article: NO MENTION OF THE PALESTINE PAPERS] has revealed the extent of broader Arab dislocation, with leaders of almost all the Arab states secretly urging Washington to attack Iran.

      […]The most important external player, the Obama administration, is confused and discredited. It staked everything on the strange play of insisting on a total freeze of construction in Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

      Such a freeze, which had never been a precondition to Palestinian negotiations before, naturally then became a reason for the Palestinians not to negotiate.

      *****Article : Anti-Semitism the real issue that dare not speak its name –

      The key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and in the wider Israeli-Arab dispute, is the issue that dare not speak its name, the pervasive and profound anti-Semitism that permeates the contemporary Islamic world, especially the Middle East.

      This is the real barrier to peace, and people who are concerned with peace will try to ameliorate it.

      It is analytically false, historically untrue and conceptually impossible that all this anti-Semitism has arisen from Israel’s sins, real and imagined.

      As Richard Cohen pointed out in The Washington Post last week, when Anwar Sadat was a young army officer in 1953, he was interviewed by Al-Musawwar magazine and asked what he would say to Adolf Hitler. His reply? “My dear Hitler, I admire you from the bottom of my heart”.

      When he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd spoke of the urgency of getting a final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If this did not happen soon, he feared a “spiralling of violence”. If a settlement were reached, huge new Arab markets would open up to Israel, it would receive diplomatic recognition from all its Arab neighbours and attention could focus on the real security threat to the region, Iran. If it did not reach a final settlement soon, then the consequences for Israel’s security would be dire.

      I do not doubt Rudd’s goodwill, nor his analytical competence, but I believe this analysis to be profoundly flawed at four levels.

      First, Israel cannot will a peace agreement into existence if there is not a partner on the other side both willing and able to make and enforce a peace agreement that provides for Israel’s security.

      Second, a failed peace agreement, or one not enforced, could gravely compromise Israel’s security, in far more damaging ways than exist today.

      Third, Israel’s security position has grievously deteriorated in recent months, through dynamics that have nothing to do with the Israel-Palestinian dispute, but which provide a far more dangerous context in which to ask Israel to take existential risks.

      Fourth, you cannot have a lasting peace settlement when Israel’s neighbours are consumed with hatred for Jews and contempt for Israel as a political entity.


      When did this guy ever write an article approaching, within a lightyear, of the Palestinian POV? Not that he has to but from Winnica’s original post, he presented this journalist as having ‘seen the light’ finally. He was never critical though. He is a Zionist stenographer. It’s in between the lines, as well as obvious when he praises Bibi so gushingly.

      Who are you kidding, Winnica?

    • dahoit
      January 16, 2012, 12:22 pm

      No,the reality is freedom and security for Israelis,and sh*t for the Palestinians,just what we know and believe.

  6. pabelmont
    January 15, 2012, 2:03 pm

    He is (or pretends to be) ignorant, on purpose. A travel writer, he is not and refuses to be a historian. Imagine him writing about Turkey, Rome — no history! Or, just perhaps, the injunction not to learn, not to wonder, not to understand applies to Jerusalem and Israel alone. And someone must have explained to him that the West Bank was on the opposite side of the wall. “Makes sense, and I was so informed.”

    • MLE
      January 16, 2012, 1:52 am

      Eh- it reminds me of people who carry on and on about how luxurious and beautiful Dubai is, while intentionally ignoring the ongoing abuse of expat labor. I couldnt enjoy myself at all because I looked at every worker wondering how much they were paid and when was the last time they saw their family. So whenever I see some travel special where the host is gushing about being treated like royalty in Dubai, I get a little angry. It’s the same kind of anger I get when I read this article. Its certainly possible to enjoy a trip to Israel, but it involves a certain level of selfishness to actively ignore things you feel are wrong.

    • G. Seauton
      January 16, 2012, 4:18 pm

      “He is (or pretends to be) ignorant, on purpose. A travel writer, he is not and refuses to be a historian. Imagine him writing about Turkey, Rome — no history! … And someone must have explained to him that the West Bank was on the opposite side of the wall.”

      Exactly, Pabelmont. Unfortunately, this article is symptomatic of a lot of what we find in the Times these days: minimally informed pseudo-journalism. Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh because it’s “just” a travel article? Well, the Times has seriously degenerated in recent years — perhaps going back well over a decade. Israel/Palestine is the issue we deal with here, so the Times’ misinformation on this issue is especially obvious to commenters here. But sad to say, the Times blows it on many different topics it reports on these days.

      And the approach to journalism is just as you say: “someone must have explained to him that the West Bank was on the opposite side of the wall.” No need to check.

      It amuses me when I see commercials for the Times on TV, with some idiot in a jacket and tie saying, “The best journalists in the world work for the Times, and … there’s no debating that.” He has such a silly look on his face. I imagine him immediately sticking his fingers in his ears and saying, “La la la la la la la!”

    • Chu
      January 17, 2012, 11:07 am

      No doubt he is being a shill for Israeli tourism. But he writes for the NYTimes,
      who undoubtedly is the largest paper in the US to repeatedly shill for the Israel.

  7. Tuyzentfloot
    January 15, 2012, 2:07 pm

    Here’s another one. Ardent antizionist on mondoweiss slowly sees the light and is slowly converted to liberal zionism, providing a guiding example for the others. Not cheap, but highly effective. Contact me through Adam/Phil.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    January 15, 2012, 6:40 pm

    RE: ” ‘NYT’ Travel section features visit to another planet” ~ Weiss

    ALSO SEE: Why the New York Times is So Hawkish; The “Liberal” Media and American Foreign Policy, by Gregory Harms, Counterpunch, 01/13/12

    (excerpts) A recent article by Robert Naiman (Al Jazeera, Jan. 9) examines the New York Times’ current coverage of Iran’s nuclear program. In it he exposes a disappointing but unsurprising mishandling of the facts. References to the paper’s shameful prewar reportage on Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s regime are appropriate. But if the Times is indeed liberal, why the repeated adoption and promotion of misleading, hawkish assumptions? …
    …The New York Times’ coverage during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq (i.e., weapons of mass destruction) was largely in-step with the Bush II administration. At the time, similarly woeful coverage could also be heard on National Public Radio, another news outlet safely described as liberal… Even when the United States is not about to invade and occupy a country, coverage of official Washington’s core interests is generally gracious…
    …Simply put, this change in behavior represents the liberal parameters of American political discourse: basically progressive on domestic issues; basically compliant on matters of statecraft and foreign policy. This too, again taken broadly, reflects the thinking of the class reading the New York Times… Upbringing, schooling, social groups, competition for positions: members of the professional class grow up being taught the assumptions that point to and/or serve class interests, or that at least allow one to blend in. Going along and getting along are essential to advancement.
    The population, on the other hand, is less constrained in its thinking and represents the true political center. Its majoritarian views are comparably liberal in the domestic-social realm: between 60 and 75 percent on most policy issues, not including gun control and the legalization of non-medicinal marijuana. And the public’s progressiveness continues into the domain of foreign affairs.
    So an otherwise liberal newspaper handling foreign-policy issues in a manner not dissimilar to those news organizations owned and operated by authoritarian states, is sadly to be expected…


  9. dumvitaestspesest
    January 15, 2012, 9:24 pm

    Phony, superficial, cheerful story of the visit to Jerusalem/Israel ,written as a cheap,naive propaganda advertisment that supposed to show the “nice, pleasant, fun, sophisticated, yummy, oh, so popular “side of living in the “holiest “place on Earth, where even ” security measures were fascinating, much more thorough and intelligent than the cursory T.S.A. sweeps”.
    What a moron.

    • MLE
      January 16, 2012, 1:37 am

      I propose he goes back to Jerusalem after changing the name on his passport to Mohammed Abdullah, his country of origin to Jordan, Lebanon, or Syria, while wearing a keffiyeh and he takes the same exact trip and writes about his experience then. I’d be fascinated to hear about his opinions of those fascinating security sweeps

    • marc b.
      January 16, 2012, 9:49 am

      yes, but a useful moron. i got ‘the times’ this long weekend. the gross piece is typical. first, a photograph of racial harmony, with black and white girls arm in arm, presumably ethiopian and european. then the predictable ‘conversion’ of the author through the pushy ‘joseph’ character. (funny how gross ostensibly wants to free himself from the narrow tourist perspective of jerusalem, and yet joseph, the vendor, is the catalyst for gross’s conversion, not the rabbi, whom he had met earlier. this is supposed to reassure us that gross’s renaissance is grounded in the rational and objective, not some hocus pocus that many NYT readers wouldn’t identify with.) and, of course, gross has to add the country-hopping, cosmopolitan ‘pauline’ character, who ‘had swung into jerusalem from new york’. reinforcing gross’s multiple, yet perfectly consistent loyalties. (as others have already said, how many palestinians had likely swung into jerusalem from new york that weekend?) what scheisse.

      frankly, i don’t believe most of what gross has written. seems like his article serves as a treacly counterpoint to the front page story about channa maayan who had to accept her prize for a book about hereditary diseases through a male intermediary because women who was not permitted on stage at the award ceremony in jerusalem.

  10. dumvitaestspesest
    January 15, 2012, 10:10 pm

    Hey, here is something very interesting.
    Get rid of all your shoes.

  11. Bill in Maryland
    January 16, 2012, 8:07 am

    BTW, an inspired headline it must be said!

  12. seafoid
    January 16, 2012, 9:19 am

    I thought this was highly relevant

    “We talk briefly about the work of playwright Ronald Harwood, who is a cousin of Sher’s. Born 15 years earlier than Sher, Harwood lived through the second world war and was acutely aware of the irony of growing up Jewish in South Africa, a country that persecuted a different group of people.

    “I feel exactly that same thing,” says Sher. “In my case it is combined with a sense of some anger and shame that not all the Jews of South Africa made the obvious comparison. A fantastic, heroic list did: Albie Sachs, Helen Suzman, Joe Slovo. But they were brave people to stand up against the system. My family were completely the opposite: life was good for them now and they were not going to rock the boat. And once I became politicised about South Africa, I was really shocked that we could have done that in just the space of one generation … Shocking. But human.””

  13. Chu
    January 17, 2012, 11:04 am

    I enjoyed how he slips in that Israeli guards are much better at patting down and getting into your business, than any American TSA operation.

    This reads like an annoying Jewish American has come to survey Jerusalem on his own, because he is a big boy now and he can show his parents what a world traveler he (Matt Gross) has become. Funny that Matt, as he’s called ‘the real mensch’ by his new street friend Joseph finds such delight at the end of his stay. The majority of favored NYTimes comments on the article take offense at his secular pov.

    Matt acts as an outsider to to whole scene of Jerusalem. He is the skeptic secular, who is just shilling for Jerusalem tourism. Jewish mothers, the ones who will pass this regurgitated garbage on to other family members, can say “look at this guys enlightening experience. You should go and see for yourself.”

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