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Like an unrequited lover, ‘NYT’ confesses itself heartbroken over Israel’s (latest) betrayal of democracy

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You surely saw the news that the Israeli cabinet approved a bill to define Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The State Department issued mild criticism of the measure: “we would expect [Israel] to continue Israel’s commitment to democratic principles.” Israel’s centrist cabinet ministers objected strongly to the bill. And even the Anti-Defamation League has come out against the legislation, saying it’s “unnecessary.”

But look who’s heartbroken: The New York Times has a big editorial titled “Israel Narrows Its Democracy,” expressing such upset over the move that you’d think that Israel was a borough of New York.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s very existence and promise — fully embraced by the United States and the world of nations — has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people.

Its Declaration of Independence, which provides the guiding principles for the state, makes clear that the country was established as a homeland for the Jews and guarantees “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

That is why it is heartbreaking to see the Israeli cabinet approve a contentious bill that would officially define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, reserving “national rights” only for Jews.

The Times is unable to separate the American story from the Israeli one. It seems to regard both societies as modern democracies that are struggling toward equal rights for all.

This is not for us just a theoretical concern. The systematic denial of full rights to minorities — principally African-Americans and disproportionately in the American South — well into the 1960s caused great harm to our own country, is not fully resolved yet and is a remaining stain on American democracy….

Having experienced the grievous legacies created when a government diminishes the rights of its people, we know this is not the path that Israel should take.

The Times is being entirely too deferential. Israel has been taking that path for a long time. In her recent book Citizen Strangers, Shira Robinson documented Israel’s discrimination and worse against its Palestinian citizens, including its refusal to allow hundreds of thousands to come back to their homes even as it welcomed Jews into the country. “[T]he structural contradictions that are at the foundation of the state will continue to haunt the state and all of its citizens until they’re resolved,” she says. The New York Times has failed to tell its readers about that book or about Goliath, Max Blumenthal’s expose of Israel’s racist political culture. And we’re not even talking about the stain of the near-50-year-old occupation and the massacres of children in Gaza.

As for that mild criticism from the State Department? “[W]e would expect [Israel] to continue Israel’s commitment to democratic principles.” The Israeli right wing is biting back, hard, saying Bug out! Of course, Israel interferes in our politics all the time, with the complicity of the New York Times. But raise a voice in displeasure, and they let you have it. Haaretz:

Economics Minister… Naftali Bennett slammed the U.S. State Department response to the Jewish nation-state bill, saying the U.S. shouldn’t intervene in Israel’s internal issues, as politicians from Israel’s right also came out in criticism.
“I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel – we will manage [ourselves],” Bennett told Army Radio, according to Israel National News.
“At the end it is our problem,” he said. “This is an internal issue and I think that no one has the right to intervene with it.”…
Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the U.S. statement by assuring that Israel is a “model democracy,” and that’s how it will remain, other politicians on the Israeli right responded vehemently.
“We can keep the foundations of democracy even without the help of the partner over the ocean,” Coalition whip and Likud MK Zeev Elkin said following the U.S. response, according to Yisrael Hayom.
Philip Weiss

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

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45 Responses

  1. MHughes976 on November 25, 2014, 10:22 am

    I suppose it is a sop to the ‘religious right’ in Israel who would like to reclaim the Temple but have for the moment no chance of doing so, suggesting that their prospects might improve in the future.
    The NYT does have a problem in seeing what is before its and everyone’s eyes. Israel does not accord equal rights in all respects to non-Jewish citizens – they do not have the same ability to promote the immigration of families and they do not have much access to the many privileges that come with military service. Still less does it accord equal rights – or anything approaching equal dignity or comparable standards of living – to all who live under its sovereign power or all who live on all the territory which it claims, subject to ‘dispute’ with other parties, as its own and very much not theirs.

  2. amigo on November 25, 2014, 10:41 am

    The NYT also forgot to mention the 50 + discriminatory laws Israel has enacted to facilitate the supremacy of Jewish Israeli citizens over non Jewish citizens.

    The NYT should call on Obama to suspend aid to Israel on the grounds it should take the Israeli right invitation to “Bug out” .They might also advise POTUS to tell Samantha (give me )Power to suspend her finger well above the UN veto button and keep it there until Israel reforms itself and comes into line with International Laws and civilised behaviour.

    • ckg on November 26, 2014, 9:28 am

      Samantha (give me )Power

      Samantha morphed into the Bloody Red Power Ranger. Now she listens only to Saban’s annoited superhero, America’s Rabbi.

  3. just on November 25, 2014, 10:44 am

    “NYT editorial slams Jewish ‘nation-state’ bill
    New York Times editorial deplores cabinet approval of the bill, claiming the law will have no useful effect.”

    They’re ‘hurt’… and taking it much more seriously than it really is.

    I believe your take is infinitely closer to the truth, Phil.

  4. Kay24 on November 25, 2014, 11:23 am

    This is where you wonder how intelligent they are, because if they were so blind as to not see where Israel’s apartheid policies were going, then the NYT’s and even the State Department, must change their officials/staff/writers. Israel is on the path to being an apartheid Jewish state, and the master plan is to steal lands, build illegal settlements, and take over the entire Palestinian territories and it’s resources. They are getting rid of the indigenous people by massacres, collective punishment, intimidation, and driving them away, while pretending that the Jews are an endangered species in danger of being attacked by Arabs/Muslims, and other convenient enemies. The State Department and the NYT, along with the other pretenders, should stop the crocodile tears at this point.

    • amigo on November 25, 2014, 11:53 am

      ” Israel is on the path to being an apartheid Jewish state, and the master plan is to steal lands, build illegal settlements, and take over the entire Palestinian territories and it’s resource”Kay 24

      I sure would like to get a hold of the Zionist entities “Mission Statement”. Where do you suppose it is kept.Dimona , perhaps?.

      Can you imagine what would happen if ever a taped or written record surfaced of just what is said in their meetings.Certainly would be “explosive”.

      • Kay24 on November 25, 2014, 12:11 pm

        It certainly would be explosive. However I think their actions, and hollow words, reveal an ugly picture, which is deadly for the Palestinian people.

  5. eljay on November 25, 2014, 11:48 am

    Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s very existence and promise … has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people.

    If “all of its people” consisted only of Jews.

    But it doesn’t consist only of Jews, so Israel’s very existence and promise has been one of Jewish supremacism in an ever-expanding (beyond its / Partition borders), religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

    That is why it is heartbreaking to see the Israeli cabinet approve a contentious bill that would officially define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, reserving “national rights” only for Jews.

    It’s kind of like hearing that the guy you’ve publicly defended for years against allegations of wife-beating – even though you knew full well he was a wife-beater – has decided to admit that he’s a wife beater and that he intends to keep on beating his wife.

    You’re heart-broken because you still support his actions, but you no longer have his pretense of respectability to hide behind. He’s gone and made you look dirty! :-(

  6. pabelmont on November 25, 2014, 11:54 am

    Now I get what was a mystery to me for so long. The claim that Israel and the USA have the same principles seemed to me so weird until now. Now I see it is based ion the perception that racism by the ruling class is a major ingredient in each society. Also a major arms induistry. Also imperialism. Also a loose-cannon approach to “enemy” countries (that is, a eagerness to shoot up various countries which can somehow be painted as enemies).

    No light between these countries? Makes sense.

  7. American on November 25, 2014, 12:11 pm

    ” Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s very existence and promise — fully embraced by the United States and the world of nations — has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people. ”

    What bs…Israel WAS NEVER based on democracy…its ‘ideal’ from day one was to run off the other to create Jewish Rule.
    Can we please start laughing and ridiculing this propaganda of ..”oh Israel democracy is failing or declining, sob sob, how did it ever go so wrong”,….. as if it ever existed…..because it is nothing but propaganda inserted into every article on Israel.

    • Chu on November 25, 2014, 3:07 pm

      Foisting the Jewish homeland upon an existing Arab world would surely create conflict. I don’t have any issue with Jews wanting their own place in the world to develop their culture, but accomplishing this goal through ethnic cleansing, destroying towns and replanting trees to cover their remnants of the old villages, while employing hasbara to the greater world probably will tarnish the reputation of the utopia they intended to create. And today, they see a miracle, where the rest of us see occupation and breaking international laws.

      Herzl and other early Zionists made an incredible blunder back then for the Zionist homeland, because all the right wing fanatics of greater Israel have to now work to correct this mistake and look like deceitful fools in the process – their blatant dishonesty and manipulation of gov’t through PACs, etc. And what’s worse is that organizations like the Times are showing that they are part of this agenda, enabling the expansion of Israel while oppressing the Arabs that are soon to be demoted to second class citizens.

  8. seafoid on November 25, 2014, 12:37 pm

    the ADL has weighed in with Foxman’s considerable heft . Bigotry in Erez Israel does not help Jews in the Diaspora, I bet.

    “The political debate over the proposed nation-state law is undermining the well-established foundational principle of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said on Monday.

    “The current debate over the proposed Nation-State law has undermined the settled nature of this essential element of Israel’s national identity,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “Attempts to further codify this concept in the Basic Laws are well-meaning but unnecessary.”

    Foxman added that “Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, one that defines Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and grants equal rights and protections to all citizens regardless of religion, is clearly expressed in the Declaration of Independence and other significant legal documents and judicial decisions.”

    It’s funny that he says “grants equal rights and protections to all citizens regardless of religion'” and not “grants equal rights and protections to all people living in Erez Israel regardless of religion’

    But he is a Zionist, of course.

  9. Susan Johnson on November 25, 2014, 2:05 pm

    If Israel can tell the US to “bug off”, aren’t they saying publicly, (perhaps officially) the US has no right to interfere in Israeli policy, decision making? Shouldn’t the opposite hold true? They should practice what they are preaching.
    AIPAC should cease its interference with the US. Their lobbying in congress should come to an end! the US should tell them to “bug off” Israeli officials are saying they don’t need help from the US. We should listen and stop helping them with billions in US tax dollars every year.

  10. DaBakr on November 25, 2014, 2:56 pm

    so, the NYT is worried about the “stain” upon the US made by the denial of full civil rights to American Blacks up until the 60s and on but has nothing to say about how Blacks, Whites and Hispanics all have benefitted greatly by occupying the land that formerly was inhabited by the First Nations. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black…

  11. pgtl10 on November 25, 2014, 2:57 pm

    NY Times:

    Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s very existence and promise — fully embraced by the United States and the world of nations — has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people.

    1. The US pretty much forced Israel into existence. It was not embraced by the world but by the West.

    2. Palestinians in Israel were subject to military rule from 1948 – 1966. They were not allowed to travel. Furthermore, Israel used several laws to take away Palestinian land owners their rights so Israel can Jewish immigrants.

    3. Israel does not allow Palestinians to return to their property but allows some immigrant from who knows where to get a citizenship based on being Jewish.

    Israel was never a democracy. It’s a racist colony. Plain ad simple.

  12. ckg on November 25, 2014, 3:10 pm

    I can hear the duet now.
    NYT to Israel:
    If I listened long enough to you
    I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true…

    Israel to NYT:
    Why don’t you mind your own business
    ‘Cause if you mind your business, then you won’t be mindin’ mine…

  13. DaBakr on November 25, 2014, 3:35 pm

    Arabs have been unanimous in rejecting the idea of Israel being a “Jewish state.” Their reasons are that, by definition, a Jewish state would be discriminatory against Arabs and Muslims.

    If you define “Jewish” in purely religious terms, that would mean that any state that defines itself as “Islamic” is, by definition, equally guilty of this discrimination. If you define “Jewish” in ethnic or national terms, then any state that defines itself as “Arab” would be equally guilty of the racism that Israel is being accused of.

    Time to check out the official hypocrisy of Israel’s critics, and note the deafening silence towards this supposed Arab and Islamic racism:

    Jordan’s constitution:
    Article 1
    The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an independent sovereign Arab State. It is indivisible and inalienable and no part of it may be ceded. The people of Jordan form a part of the Arab Nation, and its system of government is parliamentary with a hereditary monarchy.
    Article 2
    Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language.
    Egypt’s constitution:
    With its unique location and history, Egypt is the Arab heart of the world.
    Article 1:The Arab Republic of Egypt is a sovereign, united, indivisible State, where no part may be given up, having a democraticrepublican system that is based on citizenship and rule of law.

    The Egyptian people are part of the Arab nation seeking to enhance its integration and unity.

    Article 2:
    Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Islamic
    Sharia are the main source of legislation.

    Libya’s constitution:
    Article 1 [Principles]
    Libya is an Arab, democratic, and free republic in which sovereignty is vested in the people.The Libyan people are part of the Arab nation. Their goal is total Arab unity. The Libyan territory is a part of Africa. The name of the country is the Libyan Arab Republic.

    Article 2 [State Religion, Language]
    Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official Language. The state protects religious freedom in accordance with established customs.
    Morocco’s constitution:
    The Kingdom of Morocco, a Muslim Sovereign State whose official language is Arabic, constitutes a part of the Great Arab Maghreb.
    Article 6 [State Religion]
    Islam is the religion of the State which guarantees to all freedom of worship.
    Yemen’s constitution:
    Article (1) The Republic of Yemen is an Arab, Islamic and independent sovereign state whose integrity is inviolable, and no part of which may be ceded. The people of Yemen are part of the Arab and Islamic nation.

    Article (2) Islam is the religion of the state, and Arabic is its official language.

    Article (3) Islamic Shari’ah is the source of all legislation.

  14. just on November 25, 2014, 3:39 pm

    I actually howled with laughter at this headline:

    “Jewish-nation bill frays Israel’s delicate social fabric”

    There’s nothing at all ‘delicate’ about Israel.

  15. Kay24 on November 25, 2014, 3:55 pm

    Bibi Chickenshit Yahu is getting laughed at and ridiculed for his ridiculous law:

    by Bradley Burston
    Bibi’s ‘nation-state’ law: The damage has already been done – to Israel
    Take a close look at the runaway clown car called the Netanyahu government. Some days, you don’t know whether to laugh or to vomit.

    Some articles say he is making a HUGE mistake, but then we know Bibi, he always makes mistakes, sometimes convenient ones.

    • Chu on November 25, 2014, 4:07 pm

      Israel has decided it’s in their best interests to go this way, this is the bold new face of Israel to the world. Wait for the domestic Israel polling, as it will probably show that 75% agree with the Yahu Gov’t.

      poll: only 9% of Israel Arab citizens feel like equal citizens.

      • seafoid on November 25, 2014, 4:27 pm

        It’s bad news for Jews in the Diaspora. If the only majority Jewish state is ethnically racist by law why should French Jews have equal rights in France ?

      • Chu on November 25, 2014, 5:03 pm

        I think the blowback is inevitable. Israel doesn’t respect human rights, but complain at length about global antisemitism. They don’t see the paradox, i guess.

      • Kay24 on November 25, 2014, 10:08 pm

        You have a good point. They feel such a sense of entitlement, that they will want their people to have equal rights wherever they are, even demand it, yet within zioland the story is entirely different.
        Polls have shown the majority of Israelis want apartheid policies. This seems to be a huge blunder by Bibi, because after the massacre in Gaza, to see now Israel pushing for an apartheid state, will only make the world treat Israel like a pariah nation, and there will be consequences for Israelis, wherever they go.
        Israel is going to be a racist apartheid state, and they have themselves to blame.

      • RoHa on November 25, 2014, 11:37 pm

        “If the only majority Jewish state is ethnically racist by law why should French Jews have equal rights in France ?”

        The first Governor General of Australia who was actually born in Australia was Sir Isacc Isaacs. And that point was one of his objections to Zionism.

    • just on November 25, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Rivlin isn’t happy either:

      “President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday harshly criticized the ‘Nationality Law’ proposal that has shaken up the government, wondering “what is the point of the proposed law – Israel: The National State of the Jewish People?””,7340,L-4596228,00.html

  16. gracie fr on November 25, 2014, 4:46 pm

    ……The New York Times is obviously unaware that “A Jewish Democratic State” is a blatant and senseless oxymoron……..

    • ckg on November 26, 2014, 10:08 am

      As many have pointed out, Israel is indeed both Jewish and democratic. It’s a democratic state for the Jews, and a Jewish state for the Arabs.

  17. lysias on November 25, 2014, 5:38 pm

    I heard on RT that the Knesset vote is scheduled for Monday.

  18. just on November 25, 2014, 5:47 pm

    It just occurred to me that the NYT, lots of Israelis, and the State Department are more upset about this proposed ‘nation-state’ law than they were about the latest massacre of thousands of Palestinians this past summer, their survivors’ continuing agony, and Netanyahu’s incitement all over the OPT and Jerusalem.

    • seafoid on November 25, 2014, 6:06 pm

      No different to Yonah and his 4 praying rabbis.
      500 kids- big deal. But 4 rabbis .

      He should know his Jewish history

      Hillel the Elder saw a skull floating in water and declared, “You were drowned because you drowned others. Those who drowned you will themselves be drowned” (Pirkei Avot 2:7). “The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed and justice denied” (Pirkei Avot 5:11)

      Those old guys seem to have understood human nature much better than the bots do . Perhaps because they grew up in amongst cultural continuity

      “I am aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It is taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they are doing and, because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologise. “

      • just on November 25, 2014, 6:20 pm


  19. just on November 25, 2014, 5:56 pm

    Ben White:

    “The proposed ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill has prompted a huge amount of discussion and controversy within and outside of Israel.

    But missing in most of the international coverage is the extent to which Israel already defines itself as a Jewish state, and in so doing, institutionally and legally discriminates. Here are three key ways in which Israeli law has created an ethnocracy, not a democracy.

    It is absurd, as the New York paper put it, to suggest that “Israel’s very existence…has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people.” Palestinians have always been second-class citizens (at best), and Israel already defines itself as a ‘Jewish state’ rather than a state of all its citizens.

    So yes, the new wave of far-Right legislation signals something new – but let’s not forget that what we are witnessing is an intensification of racial discrimination, not its emergence.”

  20. John Douglas on November 25, 2014, 6:24 pm

    Do I understand the Times correctly?

    To Israel: Don’t do it because it will hurt Israel. How do we know it will hurt Israel? Because slavery hurt the U.S.

    How about instead: Don’t do it because it will further the hurt of the people of Palestine. It will make it simpler to kill them, maim them, rob them, humiliate them, violate their basic human rights. It will make it easier to treat them as I they are not humans beings.

    Who would ever claim that it was a good thing to end slavery in the U.S. because the practice harmed the nation state of the U.S.?

  21. LarryDerfner on November 25, 2014, 6:34 pm

    You would think from the editorial that the Jewish state is the one getting hurt, the one that deserves sympathy, not the Arabs of the Jewish state. Famous Talmudic saying: When you show mercy to the cruel, you will end by showing cruelty to those who deserve mercy.

    • just on November 25, 2014, 6:41 pm

      Exactly, Larry.

      That Talmudic saying is spot- on, as well.

  22. mijj on November 25, 2014, 6:54 pm

    > he Israeli cabinet approved a bill to define Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people.”

    .. and what proportion of the world’s Jews were consulted on this decision by a jumped up little crew of psychopaths? .. this is just another example of Zionism using Judaism as a human shield. It will automatically be anti-Semitic to speak out against Israel’s attrocities.

  23. talknic on November 25, 2014, 9:59 pm

    Israel the Zionist Movement‘s state is a train wreck.

    There’s nothing about democracy in the declaration of statehood, instead Israel ” ….will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel

    The constitution under which a govt can be legally elected cannot possibly be written if Israel is to be a ‘Jewish state’. Israel has yet to have a legally elected Govt under the promised constitution

    Non-Jewish Israelis refused return have never been able to vote for a government of their own country

  24. American on November 26, 2014, 10:00 am

    If America Had Laws Like Israel
    By Avital Burg

    A new proposed bill, supported by senators on both sides of the aisle, will finally define and determine the United States of America as the land of the Protestant People, the largest religious constituency in the U.S. and the group out of which America’s founding fathers and ruling leadership emerged.

    The new law aims to anchor Protestant values in the laws of the land, inspired by the spirit of the American Constitution. Furthermore, the bill proceeds to state that the U.S. will continue to uphold a fundamentally democratic character. According to the new law, the United States will be fully committed to the foundations of Freedom, Justice, and Peace, in light of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    At the same time, the bill suggests, the right to implement a national self-definition will be exclusively reserved for the Protestant People. According to the new bill, Protestant values will serve as inspiration to lawmakers and judges at the different levels of the United States’ legislative and judicial branches. In cases where a court of justice encounters difficulties in ruling over issues that have no readily available answers in the Law, in the Christian Canon, or in logical reasoning, it will then rule according to the principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace stemming from the Protestant heritage”……

    typical comments on the article

    benjilachkar · 15 hours ago

    The law states that Israel is the country of the Jewish *People* not religion (there is no “Protestant people” by the way). And that is what is already stated in the Independence declaration

    KokhavShavit · 12 hours ago

    Perhaps Avital Burg missed school on the day that they explained who the Jews are. So, we’ll have to forgive her for not knowing that the Jews are a people. The Protestants are not a people.’

  25. arobertsccl on November 26, 2014, 11:47 am

    If you look at almost any demographic that measures health and quality of life in Israel, you will find statistically significant differences between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. This is true for life expectancy, chronic disease, education, income, managerial positions, size of homes, etc. statistical significance indicates these differences are not random, but caused by specific factors, policies, access etc. we use it to look for discrimination in board rooms and Southern counties. Interestingly, the percentage of non Jews in faculty positions is the same for women and Mizrahi Jews. So it is Ahkenazi European Jews who fare the best.

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