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Wait, did a ‘Washington Post’ columnist just call Netanyahu a bad guy?

on 26 Comments
Netanyahu with David Cameron, from the Israeli PM's twitter feed

Netanyahu with David Cameron, from the Israeli PM’s twitter feed earlier this month

Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post says that John Kerry was delusional in thinking he could make peace in the Middle East when he’s up against a bunch of hard cases. Diehl’s series of bad guys goes from the massacring general in Egypt to the massacring president of Syria to… Netanyahu! But hold on.

It might be argued that none of this is Kerry’s fault. It was Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi who hijacked Egypt’s promised political transition. It was the Assad regime that refused to negotiate its departure . It was Benjamin Netanyahu who kept building Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It was Mahmoud Abbas who refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Did you see which walnut shell the pea ended up under? Yep– Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president who “refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

In fact, Diehl singles out Abbas for more blame than Netanyahu: “Abbas has been strident in publicly rejecting terms Kerry tried to include in a proposed peace ‘framework.’”

But Kerry has said that the Israeli demand Abbas has rejected is “a mistake.” Diehl is siding with Netanyahu. And once again, the Washington Post is valorizing a poison-pill that the Israelis stuck into the peace process, that wasn’t part of any earlier negotiations, so as to blame the Palestinians. As if this Jewish-state recognition, which even the most old and moderate Palestinians are not willing to provide, is equivalent to building 1000s of colonies in occupied territory.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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26 Responses

  1. seanmcbride on March 31, 2014, 11:17 am

    Why does Jackson Diehl feel such a passionate attachment to Israel and Zionism? Does anyone know? How about Fred Hiatt?

    Their views on Israel have radically alienated most Washington Post readers who take the trouble to comment on Mideast politics on the Washington Post website.

    I use the word “radically” carefully — many of the comments express loathing for and outrage at the Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial line on Israel and issues connected to Israel.

    Certainly Diehl and Hiatt have noticed what’s going on — how do they feel about it? Are they anxious? Defiant? Digging in their heels? In Alamo/Masada mode?

    • seanmcbride on March 31, 2014, 12:23 pm

      Regarding the great gulf that has opened up between the Washington Post and its readers regarding Israeli issues:

      Neocon (and Israel Firster) Jennifer Rubin today posted a column attacking Rand Paul with a clearly Likud Zionist agenda:

      Go to the comments, click on Most Liked, and you will find the three most liked comments:

      1. “There are a lot of things I don’t like about Rand Paul and what he stands for, but putting the interests of the United States ahead of those of Israel is not one of them.”

      2. “The zio-con propaganda machine is trying very hard to discredit anyone who cares about America first. Adelson picks the next useful idiot tool of the Israel-firsters and the propaganda machine tries to discredit everyone else. How stupid do you really think Americans are?”

      3. “Now that Rubin’s columns go unread by most conservatives could WaPo change her out please? I will say upfront I didn’t read her column today nor will I. What I will say in Rand Paul’s defense is while the rest of the Republicans are out bending knee to the Jewish bankers Rand Paul declined the invitation. That makes Rand Paul the only GOP candidate I’m interested in hearing more about.”

      Seriously, it’s one massacre after another — Washington Post commenters eviscerating Washington Post columnists.

      I would love to hear Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl discuss this interesting trend in depth. What are their thoughts?

      One more top comment:

      Without reading the article (I never read Jen’s ‘work’) I can only assume Rand Paul seeks to cut funding to our 51st state.

      Why oh why Jen does not actually move to her beloved Israel is beyond me.

      Houston, we have a problem.

      • annie on March 31, 2014, 6:33 pm

        sean, i read her column (and many comments!) earlier today after a sending phil this article and blockquote at ‘reason’.

        The neoconservative columnist Jennifer Rubin has mentioned Paul 143 times between March 1 and March 21 in her blog at The Washington Post. Some of the recent headlines of Rubin’s posts include “Rand Paul’s fake foreign policy” and “Rand Paul is the odd man out of the GOP on foreign policy.” Yesterday one of Rubin’s posts was headlined “Rand Paul trashed military option for Iran and blamed the U.S. for WWII.”

        and one of the commenters at her article wrote something like…’all she writes about is israel!’

        it’s like they’ve embedded this ‘all israel all the time’ columnist at WAPO. nuthin’ wrong with that i suppose, but is it really beneficial to israel? she’s such a freak. lots of gop’ers have had it up to their ears w/israel.

      • seanmcbride on March 31, 2014, 6:50 pm


        I’m glad you caught the Reason article. I also posted a pointer to it here:

        I find myself paying more and more attention to the social and political dynamics between commenters and authors regarding Mideast politics on mainstream media outlets. Israel Firsters and Israel “Only”-ers (like Jennifer Rubin) are really feeling the heat — they must be starting to realize that they are in incredibly exposed positions — on thin limbs that are about to break.

        The commenters in the mainstream media are often much more knowledgeable about many issues than the paid pundits — and their fingers are more on the pulse of real grassroots American opinion trends.

      • seanmcbride on March 31, 2014, 7:34 pm


        Ok, I see that that was a different (and more thorough) article that you mentioned than my link. Thanks for the pointer.

        It looks like Adelson may be planning to target and hassle Rand Paul:

        According to several donors at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference held in Las Vegas last weekend, the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is prepared to fund a campaign against Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) if he picks up increased support during his widely anticipated presidential run in 2016.

        I’ll bet the scheme backfires — which personality is more palatable to most Americans — Rand Paul or Sheldon Adelson? Who is going to come off as the sinister meddler in American politics and the agent of a foreign power?

      • Daniel Rich on March 31, 2014, 8:13 pm

        @ seanmcbride,

        Q: …the propaganda machine…

        R: Anyone operating that machine?

    • Krauss on March 31, 2014, 2:02 pm

      Jackson Diehl got his job because his primary mission is to reflect the wishes of Hiatt.

      Of course, now there is a new owner, you’d think Hiatt was gone. Nope.

      I did express my skepticism over Bezos’ willingness to change political direction.

      Rich WASPs like him aren’t very political and the reason is simple: they haven’t had a need to. They and their parents and grandparents were born into the safest country on earth. The only major wars fought has been with other white people, Germans, Russians etc.

      Jews are different, we are much more political because we understand that we have to. We have a history of vulnerability that American WASPs just haven’t had in the same way, it isn’t in their family DNA.

      Still, I’m disappointed by the hands-off approach of Bezos, who bought it more because of status and because he has more money than God(gotta spend it on something, whether on atomic clocks in mountains or on prestige newspapers).

      A good publisher is a guy like Amos Shocken, political to his fingertips who doesn’t mind attacking his own columnists. And as such, a new wish has spawned: I want to see Bezos on the Op-Ed page trashing Diehl and preferably firing him in the column, too. The odds of that one is long to put it mildly, but it would be hilarious to see.

      • seanmcbride on March 31, 2014, 2:38 pm

        Btw, how did you establish that Jeff Bezos is a WASP? Is his ethnic and religious background available on the Internet? (Ditto for the Koch brothers — are the facts about their ethnic and religious background in the public domain?)

      • MRW on March 31, 2014, 3:55 pm

        Krauss, Bezos’ effective father (stepfather from age of 4) is Cuban. Not political? You’re making sweeping statements about Bezos that have no relationship to reality. He and his wife are intimately involved in the political issues of Seattle and have been since they arrived there from NYC in the early 90s. I remember them spearheading same sex acceptance within the state.

      • annie on March 31, 2014, 6:38 pm

        Jews are different, we are much more political because we understand that we have to. We have a history of vulnerability that American WASPs just haven’t had in the same way, it isn’t in their family DNA.

        zzzzzzzzzzzzz where do you come up w/this stuff? maybe there are other reasons jews are political besides some inherent vulnerability. maybe, like some other people interested in politics, they like power, or…. want to make the world a better place. and y’know, there are jews who are not very political (shocking i know).

    • Henry Norr on March 31, 2014, 3:08 pm

      “Jackson Diehl, the deputy editorial page editor at the Washington Post who also writes a weekly foreign affairs column, generally stands at the intersection of neo-conservatism and liberal interventionism and, in my view, holds a lot of the responsibility for the paper’s neo-conservative editorial drift over the past decade.”
      Jim Lobe, “Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl Taken Down,” no date but apparently from early April 2013

      Lobe’s piece includes links to two critiques of Diehl’s vigorous advocacy of war on Syria, both written by former CIA analysts and both published by very mainstream Establishment outlets:
      Paul Pillar, “Unlearned Lessons and the Syrian Civil War”

      Nada Bako, “Humility Now! The Miseducation of Jackson Diehl”

      Diehl was once the Post’s bureau chief in Jerusalem. According to various Internet sites that may or may not be accurate, both he and Hiatt are Jewish. Wikipedia says “Hiatt is married to Washington Post editor and writer Margaret “Pooh” Shapiro.”

  2. traintosiberia on March 31, 2014, 11:32 am

    Diehl could have added that Sisi possibly would not have succeeded without Netanhyu
    . Abbas ‘s refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state is not the barrier but a figment of Natahyu to scuttle any fair deal. It is Natanhyu who is moving the goalpost and he is not the first Israeli PM to engage to these tactics.

    • K Renner on April 1, 2014, 3:18 am

      Sisi would not have succeeded with what, if not for Bibi?

      I’m not some kind of supporter of the Sis especially after some of his latest stunts, but the narrative of “Sisi got help from the outside/the people were tricked by the Army” is a rubbish Ihkwani one.

      One of the reasons the Sis is able to act so audaciously in some regards is because the Muslim Brotherhood made that many mistakes in the eyes of the majority of the Egyptian people, and also the Sis can claim that the Brotherhood has ties to Zawahiri and Al-Maqdis by virtue of the Brotherhood not denying as much.

  3. talknic on March 31, 2014, 11:35 am

    They’re so ^&*&^%$ stupid!

    It was Benjamin Netanyahu who kept building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.”
    = Illegal under International Law, the UN Charter, the laws of war and relevant International Conventions!

    ” It was Mahmoud Abbas who refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state”
    = Not illegal and the demand has no basis in any law, any UN Charter Chapter or in any International Convention!

    There’s no pea, there’s no walnut shell. There’s only bullsh*t!

    • K Renner on April 1, 2014, 3:14 am

      One would imagine that Bibi’s settlements game (done with a smirk on his face all the while) is more damaging to the peace process, or the assumed peace process then Abbas not recognizing Israel as “the Jewish state”.

      Come to think of it, it’s not Abbas who’s creating the problem if he refuses. The problem lies with the people who say, if he refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, that “the peace process can’t go forwards (build more settlements)”.

  4. eljay on March 31, 2014, 11:40 am

    >> It was Mahmoud Abbas who refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

    Good for him. No-one – not even the Palestinians – should be expected or required to recognize or accept Israel as a supremacist “Jewish State”.

    No-one should be expected or required to recognize or accept any state as a supremacist state.

    No state has a right to exist as a supremacist state.

    • talknic on March 31, 2014, 6:26 pm

      @eljay ” No-one – not even the Palestinians – should be expected or required to recognize or accept Israel as a supremacist “Jewish State”.”

      No need for the ‘supremacist’ tag even if true. There’s chance you’ll immediately alienate people who might otherwise listen. The fact of the matter is, there’s absolutely no legal requirement to recognize ANY state in order to gain one’s independence.

      Israel was not required to recognize anyone in order to gain its independence, why should the Palestinians be prevented from gaining independence by Israel’s demand for recognition?

      Israel was not required to recognize anyone before being accepted into the UN, why should the Palestinians acquiesce to Israel’s demand or be vetoed by the US?

      Israel didn’t have a peace treaty in order to gain independence, why should the Palestinians be prevented from gaining independence by Israel’s demand for a peace treaty? In fact, Israel was at war in territories “outside the State of Israel” ..”in Palestine” when it was proclaimed as an independent state “within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947”, recognized as requested and admitted to the UN!

      Today, Palestinian recognition isn’t necessary for Israel to remain as and retain all the rights and duties of an independent sovereign state. It doesn’t effect Israel’s legal status what so ever.

      Ending the occupation on the other hand, is an essential prerequisite for independence. E.g., The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel only came into effect at 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) One minute after the Mandate “expired”

      The US and Israel are both spouting completely meaningless drivel while they attempt to pummel Palestine into submission. Meanwhile the “Zionist Movement”‘s state builds even more illegal facts on the ground.

      It is an obscene injustice, perpetrated by ghastly people whose vile intentions the world would be better off without!

      • eljay on March 31, 2014, 9:06 pm

        >> No need for the ‘supremacist’ tag even if true. There’s chance you’ll immediately alienate people who might otherwise listen.

        I understand your point, but I will continue to use “supremacist” in conjunction with “Jewish State” because, IMO, the term “Jewish State” on its own is innocuous and does not accurately reflect the nature of the state.

        I would rather have less people listen who understand the true nature of the state, than more people listen who think that a “Jewish State” is no different from a Palestinian state.

  5. Donald on March 31, 2014, 12:44 pm

    Bull Connor should have demanded MLK recognize Alabama as a white state. Then a productive discussion on civil rights would have been possible, but MLK was so intransigent.

    Is there any other case where alleged liberals demanded that the oppressed group give their seal of approval to their own oppression before discussing substantive issues?

    • traintosiberia on March 31, 2014, 6:08 pm

      You are so right . WaPo is trying to do what people try to say when they talk of ” moral equivalence” . I hav never fully grasped it but until now. With this subtle attempt on the part of WaPo to be seen as fair,to be seen in sync with the current geopolitical attitude to Israeli leaders of all stripes ,to remain within the tent of liberal Zinosim it is trying to spread the blame around so that nothing not only happens but also Israel is not solely blamed. Once this view takes root,there will be a sigh of relief expressed as indifference and helplessness at the political process while Natanhyu or his successor w ill continue to do what Israel is doing with full consent and participation of the media and of the US congress . WaPo gets to claim that it has done its duty while it shields Israel from any undue exposure to American taxpayers.

  6. seanmcbride on March 31, 2014, 12:48 pm

    The article titles tell the tale — relentless neocon incitement, goading and warmongering:

    # Jackson Diehl: notes
    1. article by: “Jerusalem: The Biography,” by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    2. article by: How Obama bungled the Syrian revolution
    3. article by: If we retreat from Iraq, will Iran take over?
    4. article by: In Obama’s push for Mideast peace, whose side is he on?
    5. article by: Is Obama to blame for the Arab Spring’s failure
    6. article by: John Kerry’s departure from reality
    7. article by: John Kerry’s Middle East dream world
    8. article by: McCain: U.S. ‘making up reasons’ to avoid action on Libya
    9. article by: Obama’s dangerous passivity on Egypt and Syria on display
    10. article by: Obama’s Middle East fallacy
    11. article by: Obama’s myopic worldview
    12. article by: Why do Sarkozy and Obama hate Netanyahu?
    13. article by: Why is Obama so tough on Israel and timid on Syria?
    14. article by: Why is the West so sluggish on Syria?
    15. article by: Why the U.S. should arm the Syrian opposition
    16. article by: Why the U.S. should intervene in Syria
    17. article by: Will 2013 see action on Iran’s nuclear program?
    18. born in 1956
    19. born in San Antonio, Texas
    20. Iraq War ringleader
    21. Washington Post articles:
    22. Washington Post Jerusalem bureau member
    23. Wikipedia:
    24. Yale B.A. 1978

  7. MHughes976 on March 31, 2014, 1:42 pm

    I am sure MLK would have had no difficulty in affirming that he had no wish to destroy Alabama, to limit the rights of its inhabitants or to deny that it had a white majority and would stay that way for a long time. But that would not have been enough.
    He could not have denied, had the word been around then, that he was trying to delegitimise Alabama while it retained its current way of doing things.

  8. James Canning on March 31, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Jackson Diehl is full of sh*t if he thinks the problem is Abbas’ refusal to proclaim Israel is a “Jewish State”.

    • K Renner on April 1, 2014, 3:22 am

      It’s the same attitude as the one when you get people going “the Palestinian attack on the IDF outpost is as detrimental to the peace process as the actions of the IDF” when the IDF is busy using 155mm artillery rounds on dense urban areas because there’s a barracks or police station or somewhere that has Palestinians that have small arms or something.

  9. Gus on March 31, 2014, 9:56 pm

    Its time that the Palestinians started demanding that Netanyahu: i) recognize Mandate Palestine as the land of all those resident there on the eve of the military takeover by zionist forces; and ii) change his name back. Lets see what Jackson has to say about that.

  10. Pixel on April 1, 2014, 1:02 am

    Jonathan Pollard’s possible release being tied to the current peace process…

    What next?

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