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Obscure Netanyahu minister emerges as unsung international hero in latest ‘NYT’ report

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Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren has a book coming out about his service under Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Wall Street Journal and Haaretz agree on the big news: Oren says Obama “abandoned” Israel by taking policy steps on Iran and the occupation without clearing them with Israel first.

The New York Times has a very different story from the same book, and this one is much more positive news for Israel. “Israeli Helped Inspire U.S.-Russia Weapons Deal With Assad, Memoir Says.” Remember that chemical weapons deal under which Bashar al-Assad of Syria agreed to give up his illegal cache of weapons? It was Israel’s achievement, not Obama’s, but Israel couldn’t take credit for it till now. The story is a variation on the old Now-we-can-tell-you-the-great-thing-Israel-did: examples include the Osirak nuclear strike, and the Munich revenge killings.

And the hero at the heart of the story? None other than Benjamin Netanyahu’s unprepossessing minister of infrastructure, Yuval Steinitz. A former professor of philosophy who has long been close to Netanyahu, Steinitz turns out to be the mastermind behind a diplomatic breakthrough that the Times says “seemed like a win-win-win-win-win.”

Steinitz  is quoted at length by Jodi Rudoren in a piece that reads as if it was generated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s public relations department:

“Then it occurred to us . . . The best thing will be Russia and the United States will collaborate together in order to dismantle the chemical stockpiles.”

And there are action moments involving the unsung hero.

Mr. Steinitz rushed to Mr. Netanyahu’s office. Within a day or two, he recalled, “The Americans and the Russians began to promote this idea together, and we were sitting aside.”

“They never asked if they can give us credit, and we never asked them to give us credit,” he added. “Until today, it was a secret.”

The NYT‘s resources and space are not unlimited. The foreign desk might have sent Jodi Rudoren to Gaza to ask the families of the four slaughtered boys on the beach what they thought of the Israeli government report whitewashing Israel of blame for the attack (following up on her story that journalists and human rights experts doubt the official version). They might have sent her to document the latest wave of violence against Palestinians living under occupation. Or they might have run a big piece on Israel’s petulant anger that the United States is surprising it by making policy without checking in in Tel Aviv, according to Michael Oren.

But apparently the Times is so concerned with maintaining access to Netanyahu’s new government that it will elevate Yuval Steinitz to a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

James North
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20 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson on June 16, 2015, 11:57 am

    RE: “But apparently the Times is so concerned with maintaining access to the new government that it will elevate Yuval Steinitz to a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.” ~ James North

    MY COMMENT: Dare I say “Gleichschaltung”? ? ?*

    * SEE: “Who Will Save Israel”, by Uri Avnery, zope.gush-shalom.org, 23 May 2015

    [EXCERPTS] THE BATTLE is over. The dust has settled. A new government – partly ridiculous, partly terrifying – has been installed. . .
    . . . Now the situation inside Israel proper is about to change drastically.
    Two facts attest to this.
    First of all, Ayelet Shaked has been appointed Minister of Justice. One of the most extreme right-wing Israelis, she has not made a secret of the fact that she wants to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, the last bastion of human rights. . .
    . . . PERHAPS WORSE is Netanyahu’s decision to retain for himself the Ministry of Communication.
    This ministry has always been disdained as a low-level office, reserved for political lightweights. Netanyahu’s dogged insistence on retaining it for himself is ominous.
    The communication Ministry controls all TV stations, and indirectly newspapers and other media. Since all Israeli media are in very bad shape financially, this control may become deadly.
    Netanyahu’s patron – some say owner – Sheldon Adelson, the would-be dictator of the US Republican party, already publishes a give-away newspaper in Israel, which has only one sole aim: to support Netanyahu personally against all enemies, including his competitors in his own Likud party. The paper – “Israel Hayom” (Israel Today) – is already Israel’s widest-circulation newspaper, with the American casino king pouring into it untold millions.
    Netanyahu is determined to break all opposition in the electronic and written media. Opposition commentators are well advised to look for jobs elsewhere . . .
    . . . One cannot avoid an odious analogy. One of the key terms in the Nazi lexicon was the atrocious German word Gleichschaltung – meaning connecting all media to the same energy source. All newspapers and radio stations (TV did not yet exist) were staffed with Nazis. Every morning, a Propaganda Ministry official by the name of Dr. Dietrich convened the editors and told them what tomorrow’s headlines, editorials etc. were to be.
    Netanyahu has already dismissed the chief of the TV department. We don’t yet know the name of our own Dr. Dietrich. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1432296815/

    • MRW
      MRW on June 16, 2015, 1:49 pm

      Not to mention Lebensraum, Israel’s modus operandi.

  2. hophmi
    hophmi on June 16, 2015, 12:31 pm

    ” The foreign desk might have sent Jodi Rudoren to Gaza to ask the families of the four slaughtered boys on the beach what they thought of the Israeli government report ”

    Why, exactly? Why would the families of the boys know anything about how they were killed? Of course, if your point is that the New York Times should be more like Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, it makes perfect sense.

    • Kris
      Kris on June 16, 2015, 2:35 pm

      @hophmi: “Why, exactly? Why would the families of the boys know anything about how they were killed?”

      hophmi, are you reading English as a second language? The author does not suggest that the families of the boys would know anything about how they were killed. You have missed the point of the paragraph:

      The NYT‘s resources and space are not unlimited. The foreign desk might have sent Jodi Rudoren to Gaza to ask the families of the four slaughtered boys on the beach what they thought of the Israeli government report whitewashing Israel of blame for the attack (following up on her story that journalists and human rights experts doubt the official version). They might have sent her to document the latest wave of violence against Palestinians living under occupation. Or they might have run a big piece on Israel’s petulant anger that the United States is surprising it by making policy without checking in in Tel Aviv, according to Michael Oren.

      In brief, the author says that since the NYT can’t cover everything about Israel/Palestine, their resources would be better used in covering actual news stories than pushing Oren’s book.

      The four little Palestinian boys slaughtered on the beach are an actual news story, as would be their family’s response to Israel’s predicable whitewashing of their murder. A book by a professional liar like Oren is not interesting to most people.

      If the story had been that four little Jewish boys were killed by Hamas, we would still be hearing about it, almost a year later, every single day. We would know what every single one of their relatives and friends thought about it, and we would be hearing constantly how every Jew worldwide, as a result, had to live in constant fear.

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick on June 16, 2015, 2:42 pm

      “Why would the families of the boys know anything about how they were killed?”

      It’s clear you did not give that statement much thought before you wrote it.

    • Donald
      Donald on June 16, 2015, 2:43 pm

      Dumb comment, Hophmi. If you want to defend Rudoren’s reporting, you could cite the piece she wrote a day or two ago

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/15/world/middleeast/israel-foreign-ministry-report-gaza-palestinians-hamas.html?ref=middleeast

      Here she does cite the fact that a NYT reporter and others were eyewitnesses to the killing of the boys and what they saw didn’t support the Israeli account. Good for Rudoren–she did her job, after an earlier report where she just cited the Israelis.

      A lot of your posts are like the one you wrote here–just nitpicking which doesn’t even support whatever point you might want to make.

      • a blah chick
        a blah chick on June 16, 2015, 2:55 pm

        “Dumb comment, Hophmi”

        It was pretty cold blooded as well.

  3. MRW
    MRW on June 16, 2015, 1:55 pm

    What a crock. I remember those days well. So Steinitz thinks he came up with the idea after the August 21 attacks? Like Lavrov and Putin hadn’t mentioned that the UN could take possession of the CWs before then, and the G-20 wasn’t in the works? As Reuters wrote at the time “The deaths occurred three days after the arrival of a 20-member United Nations chemical weapons inspection team that the Syrian government had blocked for months. And it unfolded a mere fifteen minute drive from where the U.N. team was staying.”

    Remember that? But Steinetz knew that it was Assad who did it, and he and his team had proof.

    Pathetic.

    EDIT: Don’t forget that the American people revolted starting Tuesday, August 27-31, and Obama had to announce on September 1 that he was throwing it to Congress. Israel/AIPAC did not want that because a full congressional vote would be precedent for an Iran attack.

  4. Blownaway
    Blownaway on June 16, 2015, 2:25 pm

    The real sad news is how low America has sunk tha Oren can take to the WSJ to chastise the American President for having the temerity to do things without checking with Netanyahu or pre clearing his speeches …. That is mind boggling that this isn’t causing outrage

  5. a blah chick
    a blah chick on June 16, 2015, 2:49 pm

    “But apparently the Times is so concerned with maintaining access to Netanyahu’s new government that it will elevate Yuval Steinitz to a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize. ”

    What exactly is all this “access” for? It certainly isn’t used for journalism.

  6. amigo
    amigo on June 16, 2015, 3:56 pm

    Maybe Adelson has already bought the NYT.

    Pro-Israel billionaires Adelson and Saban muse over buying the New York Times – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/11/billionaires-sheldon-adelson#sthash.9dZX1NAq.dpuf

  7. Shingo
    Shingo on June 16, 2015, 5:57 pm

    What a pathetic joke. Oren has said publicly that Israel would rather the Al Qaeda types win than Assad, yet he expects the world to believe that Israel would mastermind a plan which would keep Assad in power.

    Stand by for a similar piece of propaganda from Rudoren in August where she reveals that Israel were behind the success of the Iran nuclear deal all along.

    • piotr
      piotr on June 16, 2015, 7:26 pm

      I actually find that story surprising and refreshing. Until now, I would never guess that neo-cons or Likudnik (there are differences!!) could see the episode of back pedaling from promises to rain death on Syria as something positive.

      And of course, “Al Qaeda types” are the cherished Hashem’s gift to Israel, Netanyahu visits them at the bedside, supports with artillery, airstrikes and probably with supplies and so on. And they did a nice piece of work, disabling Syrian air defenses and degrading the capabilities of Syrian military in general. However, the endgame may turn to be a nightmare for Israel, namely that their favorites are so terrifying to most of the world that massive influx of Iranian troops to Syria will not find any significant opposition. This is how the civil war in Lebanon ended (massive presence of Syrian troops) and this is probably the way the war in Syria will end.

  8. RoHa
    RoHa on June 17, 2015, 8:50 am

    “Remember that chemical weapons deal under which Bashar al-Assad of Syria agreed to give up his illegal cache of weapons? It was Israel’s achievement, not Obama’s, but Israel couldn’t take credit for it till now.”

    It wasn’t Obama’s achievement, and it wasn’t a U.S.-Russian deal. It was Putin’s achievement, and it was a Russian-Syrian deal. The U.S. just had to go along with it

  9. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia on June 19, 2015, 8:22 am

    NYT should ask itself ,Israel and this Steingiz why they didn’t accept the fact that Iraq had no WMD despite assertion by Russia,UN,Iraq, and IAEA? Israel was the instigator in this demand that Iraq should have no WMD . They have been asking same for Iraq,Syria,and Libya in different contexts and times . The idea was not to prevent emergence or persistence of WMD lying around in ME but to use it to start a process marked by more demands,more intrusion,more inspection,more UN deliberations,more sanctions and then disintegration by war.
    NYT is a pathetic criminal partner and accomplice in Israeli aggression.
    Despite Syrian acquiescence ,denial and cooperation, CW issue was twisted by Israeli intelligence with the hope that US would mount attack on Syria.
    NYT should retract the statement or add following lines ” obviously Israel was looking at its own interest. In case of any future Israeli preemptive attacks which have become a commonplace after 911 ,Israel doesn’t want to face any possible resistance or counter any hindrance . Removal of any weapon that Syria possesses would magnify the chances of clear quick Israeli victory in a war that are initiated by Israel”.

  10. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia on June 19, 2015, 8:35 am

    NYT while trying to promote a thug as statesman is also letting the cat out of the bag. Israel decides US foreign policy in Middle East . Israel comes to claim it only when it looks like a success. Iraq war was not claimed for it was not a success . But that denial over Iraq war might also change in case in future the situation changes that could be painted and sold by Israel as favorable and advantageous for USA . It doesn’t have to be . All Israel would need an opportunity of rearranging the facts to make the claims. Just like Osirik reactor. Just like liberating Gaza . Just like offering land for peace and just like accepting UN partition plan before those land for peace.

  11. j1ceasar
    j1ceasar on July 11, 2015, 12:31 pm

    Its funny how some readers actually think the NYT is pro Israel and some are the opposite.

    Read ito each story what you want – but the facts are that there are 1 billion Muslims and 1.5 million Palestinians who could easily be absorbed into their respective Muslim brothers countries.

    In fact there are about 2.7 million Muslims living peacefully in Isreal. Israel seems to me to give alot more rights to Christians and Muslims than 98% of the 45 ? Muslim countries were it is Illegal to be a different region except Muslim , Where Women don’t get a right to vote or drive or be educated for the most part.

    PS in 4+ years did Hillary ONCE complain about womens rights in any Muslim country ?

    • annie
      annie on July 11, 2015, 2:28 pm

      j1c, aside from your shoddy logic, your numbers are off. there are 1,719,000 palestinian israelis living in israel:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Israel

      The demography of Israel is monitored by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. The State of Israel has a population of approximately 8,296,000 inhabitants as of the end of 2014.[2] 75% percent of them are Jewish (about 6,218,000 individuals), 20.7% are Arabs (about 1,719,000 individuals)

      82% of them are muslims https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Israel#Arab_Muslims

      that’s about 1.4 million muslims in israel, not 2.7 million.

      the idea they are all “living peacefully in Isreal” is absurd. how can you live ‘peacefully’ when the state doesn’t even recognize the town you live in and supply utilities — for one thing. maybe you’ve never heard of the prawer plan.

    • tree
      tree on July 11, 2015, 3:57 pm

      Israel seems to me to give alot more rights to Christians and Muslims than 98% of the 45 ? Muslim countries were it is Illegal to be a different region except Muslim , Where Women don’t get a right to vote or drive or be educated for the most part.

      That’s only because you seem to believe a bunch of falsities. No Muslim majority country makes it illegal to be a different religion than Muslim (I’m assuming you typed “region” when you meant “religion”). The only state that prevents women from driving is Saudi Arabia, and in most Arab countries women are at least 50 percent or more of university students. In Saudi Arabia, although still prevented from driving, since 2011 Saudi women are allowed to vote in municipal elections and can be appointed to the Consultative Assembly. Women currently make up 30 seats of the 150 seat Consultative Assembly.(There are no elections for nationwide office in SA, as it is an absolute monarchy.)

      Figures on university attendance:

      http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/world/meast/middle-east-women-education/

      Saudi women:

      http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/02/25/388901949/saudi-women-still-cant-drive-but-they-are-making-it-to-work

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia

      You might want to reconsider where you get your information from, since everything you’ve said here has been wrong.

      If I had to make a choice, I’d rather be a woman in Saudi Arabia than a Palestinian woman in the West Bank or Gaza. Choosing between being a Palestinian Israeli female citizen and a Saudi female would be a tougher choice, but I suspect that I would still choose being a Saudi woman. And many, if not most, Arab countries are more progressive towards women’s rights than Saudi Arabia is.

      And Clinton has complained about violations of women’s rights in all countries.

    • RoHa
      RoHa on July 11, 2015, 9:39 pm

      “1.5 million Palestinians who could easily be absorbed into their respective Muslim brothers countries. ”

      Much better idea would be for all Palestinians to live in Israel/Palestine. If any of the local Jews don’t like it, they can leave and go to countries like the US or Canada where they can easily be absorbed.

      And I’m sure Hillary would like the US to follow the examples of Muslim Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Kyrgyzstan. All of those countries have had women as Prime Ministers or Presidents. Bangladesh has been passing the PMship back and forth between two women for years. The woman president of Kyrgyzstan is an atheist.

      (Many years ago, a friend told me he wouldn’t consider the U.S. to be civlized until the people elected a black, atheist, lesbian, socialist as president. I told him I couldn’t imagine Americans ever electing a socialist.)

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