Here’s a brief summary of Jodi Rudoren’s latest public relations release for Israel in the New York Times, titled “Israel Aims to Recreate Wine That Jesus and King David Drank”:
Our Scriptures say we Israeli Jews had wine back in King David’s day.
We will re-breed those grapes by digging up ancient seeds.
Therefore we have a right to the land, dating back thousands of years.
What’s more, we can use this propaganda article to try an end run around the European Union’s new policy of labeling goods from illegal settlements.
The key paragraph of the article is characteristically buried half way down.
With a budget of about $750,000, mainly from the Jewish National Fund — a century-old Zionist organization that has helped transform Israel’s agricultural landscape — Mr. [Eliyashiv] Drori and a dozen colleagues have since 2011 identified 120 unique grape varieties whose DNA profiles are distinct from all imports. Around 50 are domesticated, Mr. Drori said, 20 of them “suitable for wine production.”
The flurry of meaningless statistics about grapes cannot hide that remarkable characterization of the Jewish National Fund — a century-old Zionist organization that has helped transform Israel’s agricultural landscape. Yes, the JNF accomplished that miracle by helping to uproot hundreds of Palestinian villages and displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a project that continues to this day. By charter, the JNF is dedicated to “redeeming” the land — by buying it and giving it only to Jews.
There are many more examples of hasbara in this laughable article. The second paragraph repeats the headline and describes the goal as to “recreate — ancient wines drunk by the likes of King David and Jesus Christ.” That’s a shrewd move — and not just for its transparent pander to Christian Zionism. Notice that no ancestors of today’s Palestinians are mentioned as having been around back then to quaff any of those wines.
No, they show up later, in this Orientalist tidbit:
But winemaking was outlawed after Muslims conquered the holy land in the seventh century.
The subtext is that “Muslims” invaded from outside with repressive anti-wine measures. And the Jews had already been there for more than a thousand years.
As Mr. Drori, “the Ariel oenologist who heads the research,” states:
“All our scriptures are full with wine and with grapes — before the French were even thinking about making wine, we were exporting wine,” he said. “We have a very ancient identity, and for me, reconstructing this identity is very important. For me, it’s a matter of national pride.”
Identity? He’s the Ariel oenologist! He lives in Ariel, an illegal settlement on the West Bank, which France and other countries are taking steps to label as such.
Rudoren goes by email to a Palestinian for the token on-the-other-hand quote:
“As usual in Israel, they declare that falafel, tehina, tabouleh, hummus and now jandali grapes are an Israeli product,” Amer Kardosh, Cremisan’s export director, sniped in an email. “I would like to inform you that these types of grapes are totally Palestinian grapes grown on Palestinian vineyards.”
He “snipes” — it must be sour grapes!
If you think this story is silly and innocent, consider: it’s the lead article in the New York Times‘ international section, accompanied by three photographs. That’s where the paper tells its readers what’s going on in the world. And what a disturbing choice the Times is making, when there’s so much real news in Palestine to report. For instance, the photographed murder of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, 18, by Israeli soldiers just two months ago at a checkpoint, in which no one has been charged. The Times hasn’t covered the fact that Amnesty describes this as an “execution;” it hasn’t lifted a notebook to interview the woman’s family (as Allison Deger has for this site).
(UPDATE: On Twitter, @bruculino points out another cunning tactic in the article. A small map shows the “Recanati Winery,” which is trying to produce the new wines, located in pre-1967 Israel. The map does not show Ariel, the location of the university doing the agronomic research, which is in a settlement/colony in occupied Palestine. @asks, “Is NYT trying to assist Israel in circumventing international law on settlement-based production?”)
CORRECTION: Our original post said that the Israeli oenologist, Eliyashiv Drori, “lives in Ariel, an illegal settlement on the West Bank, which France and other countries are taking steps to label as such. Though the Times doesn’t tell you any of that.” We are mistaken. The second paragraph in Rudoren’s article does say that Ariel University is in “the occupied West Bank,” which does strongly imply that he both works and lives there. We have removed the erroneous sentence, and we apologize for the error.