Trending Topics:

Ultra-Zionists push back as Jewish establishment tacks toward center

News
on 26 Comments
Ethan Bronner

Ethan Bronner

The other day we did a post on rightwing Zionists in Philadelphia boo-ing Alan Dershowitz because he opposes some Israeli settlements in the “West Bank,” which those religious rightwingers refer to as Judea and Samaria.

Here are two more incidents highlighting the same fracture inside the Israel lobby, between rightwing red-hots and mainstream Zionists. The stories portend further ultra outbreaks as mainstream organizations shift to try and reflect liberal Zionist opinion. Notice in the second case that a campus Hillel is the bad guy.

First, Gary Rosenblatt in The Jewish Week reports that in a New York appearance, the New York Times’ Ethan Bronner — who is widely understood to be a liberal Zionist — came under criticism from young American Jews who have signed up for “Write-On,” a propaganda campaign for the Jewish state.

In an hour of frank discussion on Sunday afternoon at Park Avenue Synagogue, Bronner, clearly frustrated at times, appeared to have limited success in convincing about 100 high school juniors and seniors that the Times’ goal was to cover the conflict fairly rather than to “besmirch Israel.”

The teens were participants in Write On For Israel, the two-year Jewish Week-sponsored Israel education program with an emphasis on journalism….

“I believe my goal is to seek the truth and tell it in the most sophisticated way I can,” he said to the teens, who were joined for the day by 31 students from the Reali high school in Haifa, Israel. He noted that in responding to a woman who had questioned how he, as a Jew, could criticize Israel, he said that conveying the truth best serves the Jewish state.

Then there’s this story at a Jewish news site, of an event at Washington University in St Louis, featuring the Israeli dissident veterans group Breaking the Silence, sponsored by Hillel and J Street. Writer Hen Mazzig is an Israeli soldier conscripted by the rightwing Zionist group StandWithUs to bring propaganda about Israel to the U.S.

Mazzig is scary; he’s perfectly prepared to argue that black is white. Read his celebration of Palestinian human rights as an occupying soldier…

The former soldier [with Breaking the Silence], Oded Na’aman, claimed that Israeli soldiers are trained to oppress the Palestinians individually and as a people, that they maliciously mistreat Palestinians in the West Bank, and that they are taught to make Palestinians fear Israeli soldiers. He argued that there are no civil rights for Palestinians and that the Jewish people who now have a state use their power to oppress Palestinians.

I had no idea what he was talking about or what motivated him to lie.

He did not describe the Israel or IDF that I know so intimately.

As a reservist and a soldier, I had been stationed in the West Bank. My job was to protect the Palestinians’ human rights, coordinate humanitarian aid, and tend to the needs of civilians living in the West Bank. I always felt that Israel’s concern for the welfare of the Palestinians was impressive, and I was proud to be part of it…

[T]he organizers and sponsors made it very clear that there would be no dialogue. They handed out a list of rules that included not telling anyone what was said in the room, how we needed to allow our beliefs to be challenged, and how we should be accepting of the speaker’s comments. The sponsors didn’t even allow us to openly ask questions. We could only write them on a piece of paper, and then they would choose which ones to ask the speaker. Clearly, they did not want the speaker to be challenged.

It was very hard to understand how the speaker represented “Breaking the Silence” when I was being silenced.

I couldn’t understand why the speaker was being praised that night. I couldn’t understand why someone who was dedicated to misrepresenting Israel and its moral character was given credibility. I was hurt that I was silenced while someone lied about my experience. The organizations who invited this man, J Street U and Hillel, had no interest in how I helped uphold human rights. They didn’t want me to speak about it, though I openly made myself available to them that night.

The organizers said they love Israel. But by praising lies and misinformation, they made it clear that their “loving Israel” is only an empty façade.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

26 Responses

  1. pabelmont on April 4, 2014, 11:43 am

    Black is white. Both are grey.
    NYT tries to tell the truth. Grey at best. (Is omission truth-telling?)
    NYT is not (or should not be) called the Grey Lady for nothing.

  2. mijj on April 4, 2014, 11:57 am

    > “He noted that in responding to a woman who had questioned how he, as a Jew, could criticize Israel, he said that conveying the truth best serves the Jewish state.”

    the woman in question clearly has never brushed her teeth, had a wash or brushed her hair. Self-criticism is an essential part of self-maintenance.

  3. Krauss on April 4, 2014, 12:35 pm

    It is striking to me that Bronner, when pushed to the wall, doesn’t consider what is best for the readers. Instead, he frames it as:

    He noted that in responding to a woman who had questioned how he, as a Jew, could criticize Israel, he said that conveying the truth best serves the Jewish state.

    He more or less admits that whenever he writes (or edits) articles about Israel, his primary concern is what’s best for Israel.
    This could explained the hard-right shift that the Times’ Israel coverage has seen since Bronner took up the role of editor.

    Bronner, as some may remember, recently did a talk with Amos Yadlin, a Likudnik former IDF general. I watched some of it, skipped over a lot of parts because I alreayd knew the lines before they would say them(I tested myself a few times and hit a home run each time, sometimes even to the word).

    Nevertheless, I was struck by how incredibly deferential he was, time and again. Whenever Yadlin attacked the Times, Bronner crept into his shadow. Whenever Yadlin said something racist, Bronner said “that’s true”, and rolled into a fetal position.

    When Yadlin bemoaned non-Jewish babies and praised efforts to increase the right kind of babies, with the right kind of blood, J-positive blood, Bronner smiled and jokes “there’s hope!”.

    As I wrote earlier, would he had been as deferential to a white U.S. general bemoaning non-white babies and arguing for massive increases in white birth rates?

    These are the “liberals”.

    • Sibiriak on April 4, 2014, 11:22 pm

      Krauss:

      It is striking to me that Bronner, when pushed to the wall, doesn’t consider what is best for the readers. [ETC.]

      Good catch. Excellent points.

  4. hophmi on April 4, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Well, Phil, regardless of who Hen Mazzig works with, he is a former IDF soldier, and what he says matter, no? Much more than, say, what you say as a person with no IDF experience. Do you really think that every IDF soldier is some psychopath who just shoots every Palestinian he sees? Isn’t his narrative worth something? He’s speaking about his own experience, after all. And his narrative is by far more common than Oded Na’aman’s is.

    Surely we have similar disputes within the US Army. You will doubtless find some soldiers who will talk about how they were turned into killing machines, and a majority who will talk about how they were taught to respect human life and international law.

    So maybe it’s more like I say it is; the IDF is like any group of people; some bad soldiers, mostly good soldiers, some who believe that they were taught to mistreat others, most who believe that they were taught to respect others, some bad incidents, some good incidents. There are anecdotes, and there is reality. And reality is, as usual, more complex than you like to believe it is.

    “I recall that during my service in Hebron, I had to adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure that the soldiers in the Judea Brigade were educated about the Geneva Convention and the rules of engagement—or face punishment. We sometimes went beyond these strict rules to help Palestinians. Once, when I served in my unit’s headquarters, we arranged a complex operation so that my unit, with the help of another unit, could save the life of a Palestinian boy living in Gaza whose mother had died. We did some investigating, and discovered that his uncle lived in Ramallah. In a special operation in the middle of the night, we moved the child to his uncle so that he would not be left alone in the streets of the Gaza Strip.”

    • piotr on April 4, 2014, 2:42 pm

      Clearly, the problem is not that Hen Mazzig was a soldier but that he remains a soldier, and he says only what he is commanded to say. What he says tells us what IDF wants to be known about itself, which may comport with the truth, but then it does not have to.

      And soldiers are not like “any group of people”, most behave according to their training and indoctrination and, of course, the orders. There was once an article in Ha’aretz about a reserve officer who commanded a unit in West Bank and ordered all his soldiers to behave politely. It was newsworthy because it was so unusual.

    • Hostage on April 4, 2014, 5:05 pm

      Well, Phil, regardless of who Hen Mazzig works with, he is a former IDF soldier, and what he says matter, no?

      Troll alert. The claim that it is the IDF’s job to protect the Palestinians’ human rights, coordinate humanitarian aid, and tend to the needs of civilians living in the West Bank is perfectly true. The fact that they don’t even try and frustrate the efforts of those that do has been the subject of complaints from Comoros with the International Criminal Court, Criminal Courts in Turkey, UN Security Council resolutions, US State Department reports on human rights, the World Bank reports, HRW, AI, and wire service reports about attacks and arrests of EU diplomats attempting to provide tents to families whose homes were demolished, & etc.

  5. Light on April 4, 2014, 1:41 pm

    Well, Phil, regardless of who Hen Mazzig works with, he is a former IDF soldier, and what he says matter, no?

    Hops, it does matter who he works for. I’ve met and spoken with Hen. His descriptions of the occupation are pure fiction. He is a very polished Israeli government propagandist.

    • hophmi on April 4, 2014, 3:15 pm

      “Hops, it does matter who he works for. I’ve met and spoken with Hen. His descriptions of the occupation are pure fiction. He is a very polished Israeli government propagandist.”

      His description is of his time as an Israeli soldier. What evidence do you have that it’s inaccurate?

      • a blah chick on April 4, 2014, 3:35 pm

        “His description is of his time as an Israeli soldier. What evidence do you have that it’s inaccurate?”

        So the testimony of one Jew disproves all Palestinian accounts?

        This was my favorite part: Hen Mazzig-“My job was to protect the Palestinians’ human rights, coordinate humanitarian aid, and tend to the needs of civilians living in the West Bank.” A man this delusional should have a nice long career in Israeli politics.

      • just on April 4, 2014, 5:44 pm

        “This was my favorite part: Hen Mazzig-”My job was to protect the Palestinians’ human rights, coordinate humanitarian aid, and tend to the needs of civilians living in the West Bank.””

        Mine, too. They did it like this today:

        “Israeli forces open fire on protest for Palestinian prisoners

        Israeli troops fired on Palestinian protests today outside Ofer prison in the West Bank with live ammunition. At least 12 protesters were sent to the hospital, some with serious injuries. Israel recently cancelled an agreed upon prisoner release as part of the US-led peace process. ”

        http://mondoweiss.net/2014/04/ammunition-palestinian-prisoners.html

        Please read the news, hophmi– or look at the pics. Pictures don’t lie.

      • Light on April 4, 2014, 4:54 pm

        Hops, Hen’s fairy tales are as truthful as the infamous Theresienstadt film. The Israeli Army’s role in the territories is not to coordinate aid or in anyway improve the lives of the Palestinians. It is to protect settlers and to maintain absolute control over the local population.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresienstadt_(film)

      • hophmi on April 4, 2014, 5:15 pm

        I’m asking you again what evidence you have that Hen Mazzig’s narrative is false. Stop obfuscating.

        The reality is simply more complex than you’re making it.

        “So the testimony of one Jew disproves all Palestinian accounts?”

        Not at all. It is another testimony, another side to the story. There are TWO SIDES. Not one. Two. The mark of intelligence is the ability to hold two ideas in your head at the same time. You guys just don’t seem to be able to do it, to believe that Palestinians can feel aggrieved, and that IDF soldiers are not all monsters out to make their lives as miserable as possible. That’s what happens when you make one side an angelic side that can do no wrong and the other side a demonic side that can do no right. It’s a political partisan disease.

      • thankgodimatheist on April 4, 2014, 6:45 pm

        Hophmi
        Can you provide evidence that what Hen is stating is true?

      • seafoid on April 4, 2014, 9:44 pm

        There are 2 sides. There are 2 languages. Hebrew and goy. There are 2 truths. There are 2 parallel realities. Schrodinger’s Zionist cat is dead and alive similtaneously. We will only know when America abandons the kabuki and reveals what happened to the cat.

      • Hostage on April 4, 2014, 5:23 pm

        His description is of his time as an Israeli soldier. What evidence do you have that it’s inaccurate?

        So you have been living in a cave and didn’t read about the homes demolished in the Jordan Valley and the Palestinian kids in military custody being left outside in cages during the life threatening winter storm, wherein Netanyahu credited the IDF for its efforts to save Jewish lives? How about the reports of the ICRC and British lawyers about systematic human rights abuses, including torture of children in IDF custody?

        I’m pretty sure you heard about that evidence, and plenty more stories like it, because Kate has a daily collection of them. You are always hanging out here bitching and trolling the threads in the articles written by other contributors wherein the evidence is presented on a daily basis.

      • adele on April 4, 2014, 6:03 pm

        Hophmi,
        it’s so inaccurate that he should be convicted for Lies Against Humanity. For god’s sake mate, own up to your crimes. Have you no shame in telling such lies, in condoning such lies? You aren’t fooling anyone.

      • traintosiberia on April 4, 2014, 10:10 pm

        So I can assume that he supports one state ,equal right,democratic state or he supports total undoing of the occupation with full Israeli withdrawal to 1967

      • Citizen on April 5, 2014, 9:05 am

        @ hophmi
        I was in the US Army, and I’ve since those young years, observed US military soldier spokes folks over the years. Nobody who speaks as a representative of the military branch they are in or of the government they work for in its military capacity, gets to do so unless they spout propaganda for their employer. Conscripted soldiers most especially get out as soon as possible if they don’t want to be a soldier, whose whole job is to take commands, like it or not.

  6. piotr on April 4, 2014, 2:17 pm

    This is the downfall of the liberals. ” [He Bronner] noted that in responding to a woman who had questioned how he, as a Jew, could criticize Israel, he said that conveying the truth best serves the Jewish state.

    It is highly debatable: truth may be highly detrimental to the Jewish State, at least as the interests of that state are now conceived by the majority of those who care about it. So Bronner should honestly declare what would he do if the truth does not serve the Jewish state. But then, he cannot, the very nature of the “patriotic position” to shade and cherry pick the truth so it bests serve a state (I write “a state” because Bronner seems to be from a different one) is such that it cannot be disclosed, but dismays those who think that he sincerely would disseminate truth even if does not advance the interest of the state.

    [Warning: very bad translation follows. Piotr = Peter, Jan = John]

    Two portrait painters were famous in the past,
    Piotr, good and poor, Jan, bad and rich.
    Piotr painted exquisitely, and suffered from hunger,
    Jan did little and badly, but he gained more.
    What made their fate so different?
    Piotr painted similar, Jan more beautiful faces.

    No blemish on Israel’s visage can be tolerated.

  7. weareone on April 4, 2014, 2:59 pm

    I’m baffled by the term “tacks toward center.” With human rights and crimes against humanity, there is no left, right or center-only moral and immoral actions; support for justice or injustice.

    The “Jewish establishment” until very recently, has been complicitous with immorality and injustice. I doubt that world opinion or the Palestinians really care what the ultra Zionists or “the Jewish establishment” think. “The Jewish establishment” has had almost seventy years to speak out against Zionism and it’s crimes, but chose instead to permit Zionism to co-op and redefine the term Jew and the religion of Judaism. By their (the Jewish establishment’s) silence, they have been complicitous in more than a half century of crimes committed by Israel (and in their name as Jews) and are only now beginning to react. This seems to be due to pressure from the international community, from the Palestinians (BDS) and perhaps from embarrassment.

    It’s good to see young Jews joining with SJP on campuses, for this takes courage, conviction, selflessness. “The Jewish establishment” has never demonstrated those attributes.

  8. W.Jones on April 4, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Two facts make me question whether this is the establishment tacking to the center. The primary incident was Dershowitz’s 700 listener-strong audience on the JStreet Challenging attacking Jstreet’s liberal ideas that was sponsored by 16 establishment organizations. The audience, according to the previous article here on Mondoweiss, zealously attacked, Dershowitz, JStreet’s critic, as too liberal. Considering the establishment’s arrangement of the movie against JStreet, this is the first fact.

    The second fact is another one discussed here on Mondoweiss. According to MW articles, there is a trend of a major part of the younger generation caring less about the Israeli state, but not necessarily demanding equality and binational rights. As a result, I question whether that leaves the ardent nationalists as those who are energized on the issue and as a result dominating the establishment’s activity on the issue. That is, while part of the community will care less about the issue, that will also result in a weakening of the liberal wing’s political activity, leaving the field to those who do not tack left.

    Consequently, out of realism and despite one’s own preferences, I have to question the basis that the establishment is making a liberal “shift” or tacking to the left. Perhaps you can provide more information on this?

    I question whether the establishment’s facilitating of JStreet’s speaker in one city is representative of the establishment’s naturally welcome tack to the left, although if you were to make a case for this, I would be interested and open.

  9. a blah chick on April 4, 2014, 8:19 pm

    I have to say that that story from Hen Mazzig that Hopmi relates (concerning the Palestinian boy “rescued” from the streets of Gaza) warmed the cockles of my heart. Then the cockles cooled and the suspicions grew. It isn’t just that Mazzig is affiliated with Stand With Us that makes me suspicious, its the story he tells and how it smells to high heaven.

    Mazzig says that the boy was orphaned after the death of his mother. Where was the father? Dead? In prison? Had the family been exiled to Gaza? Since most women go to live with their husband’s family was there no one else to take care of the child? Then there is this: “We did some investigating, and discovered that his uncle lived in Ramallah. In a special operation in the middle of the night, we moved the child to his uncle so that he would not be left alone in the streets of the Gaza Strip.” If the kid is living on the streets of Gaza why is a “special operation in the middle to the night” necessary? Was he taken from someone? Tens of thousands of children have perished at the hands of IDF ordinance, why was this kid so special? Was the uncle a PA official or a collaborator who needed to be kept sweet? And if this story is true why haven’t we heard about it? It’s not like the IDF doesn’t mind tooting its own horn. Remember Haiti? Needless to say I think Hen might not be telling the “whole story.”

    Anyway if you have the stomach for it google IDF COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories). This is the Unit that Mazzig was affiliated with. You will get more hasbara to last a lifetime. Oh, one last thing. One of the websites quoted Mazzig as saying that they worked with those Palestinians not involved in any violence against Israel. This is why I suspect the uncle might have been a collaborator.

  10. anthonybellchambers on April 5, 2014, 4:48 am

    A compliant US congress calculates that Netanyahu is now beyond any military, political or financial control and can continue unrestrained with his illegal settlement building until the entire West Bank is ethnically cleansed.

    This is the consequence not only of the compliance of this congress but of the covert collusion of successive American administrations with the Israel lobby.

    Compounding this congressional collusion is the team of presidential advisors in the White House who support the aims and ambitions of the Political Zionism movement that seeks to avoid the will of the UN Assembly and to allow the continued ethnic-cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem where Palestinian Arabs have lived for well over a thousand years, by rubber-stamping the massive funding and arming of the Netanyahu government.

    That this is a complete failure of democracy is patently obvious but it is also a political and military disaster given that Israel has been allowed to become the world’s only undeclared nuclear weapon state with a secret arsenal estimated to contain up to 400 warheads and a fleet of cruise missile submarines with a second strike capability that is more powerful than any of the 28 member states of the European Union.

    Why have three hundred million Americans allowed their elected representatives in Congress to irretrievably change the balance of global power that is so detrimental to their own safety and security?

    That is the question that urgently requires an answer as nuclear control is removed from the IAEA and the UN Security Council to a state that was created by the UN itself in 1948 ostensibly to fulfil a humanitarian need but which has, unbelievably, been allowed to transmogrify into the nuclear tail that wags the global dog.

    • Citizen on April 5, 2014, 9:21 am

      Most of those millions of Americans you refer have never received objective coverage of the I-P conflict’s history, nor do they get breaking news on the situation there. The main media channels, both print and electronic, mostly like by omission, which allows them to skew to a favorable Israel narrative nearly all the time. 5 corporate conglomerates own the minds of said Americans as those 5 own the news on anything involving perception of Israel. Too, most of said American either have no interest in foreign policy or they are too busy with survival, job, career, chores and the usual mundane personal and family interests. The spontaneous grass roots growl at the notion their government should attack Syria is the exception to the general rule–but, due to the economy and alternate internet news and opinion, this seems to be slowly changing.

  11. eGuard on April 6, 2014, 9:42 am

    Mondoweiss: another “adjective Zionist” journalism. So we have “ultra”, “mainstream”, “rightwing red-hot[s]”, and as always “liberal” Zionists. As always, none of the classes are qualified.

    Using the terms unspecified is sloppy journalism, or betrays an agenda. I assume both, as MW is repeatedly evading clarification.

Leave a Reply