Mondoweiss

Israeli leader’s ‘extremism’ charge makes headlines around the world — but 10th paragraph in New York Times!

Moshe Ya'alon, former Israeli Defense Minister, has condemned threats against an Israeli commander for testifying in manslaughter trial of medic who killed prone Palestinian

Is the New York Times incompetent — or conniving once again to hide Israel’s extremism from its readers? We tend to believe the latter, but the reason hardly matters. Today there is yet another explosive story from the new Israel, and the New York Times covers it as blandly as if it’s the latest twist in the Connecticut governor’s race.

First, look at the news as covered by the Washington Post: “Israel’s defense minister abruptly resigns in slap at growing ‘extremism’”.

OK, we have to wait a few paragraphs in William Booth’s story, but he doesn’t try and put any shoeshine on it; he even refers to the murdering Israeli medic of Hebron on March 24:

In a press conference Friday, [Moshe] Yaalon, a fellow member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, warned that Israel was drifting dangerously toward extremism.

“I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society, which are threatening its sturdiness and trickling into the armed forces, hurting it already,” he said.

Yaalon appeared to be referring to widespread support by Israeli leaders for a combat medic who shot to death a wounded Palestinian attacker as he lay on a street in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.


That video at the top of the Washington Post piece is even stronger. Ya’alon says:

To my great dismay extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel and also the Likud Party and have shaken the house and are threatening to hurt the inhabitants. This is not the Likud Party I joined.

Now look at the New York Times headline: “Moshe Yaalon, Israeli Defense Minister, Resigns”. Big deal. See what we mean about the Connecticut governor’s race?

Reporters James Glanz and Irit Pazner Garshowitz soft-peddle the lead, too:

The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, announced on Friday that he was resigning, an abrupt move that comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly conducts negotiations with a far-right party to join his government.

No mention of Ya’alon’s charge of “extremism” till the tenth paragraph.

“I fought with all my might against phenomena of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society that threaten its fortitude, and which are trickling into the I.D.F., that are already hurting it,” he said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

New Israel Fund gets the story. It sent out a frightened email today, titled: “extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel”. BBC gets the story. Its subhead: “Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has resigned, warning that Israel has been taken over by ‘dangerous and extreme elements'”. Look at the Times of Israel. It led with the shocking quote that the Washington Post had in its video:

Outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Friday that “extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home and threatening to harm its inhabitants.”

Haaretz‘s headline and lead are also stunners:

Outgoing Defense Minister Ya’alon: Extremists Have Taken Over Israel

‘I recently found myself in strong disagreement with the prime minister on moral and professional issues,’ Ya’alon says of his resignation from politics.

Extremist elements have taken over the country, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Friday morning as he explained his resignation from political life.

This is the Israel that Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen have been telling us about for years —

but that the Times refuses to even acknowledge, purveying a fairyland Jewish democracy to its readers at a time of momentous change in the country’s political culture that has frightened establishment types over there. The Times has also lately suppressed the Yair Golan story, in which the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army seized on the murdering medic episode from Hebron to warn that Israel was manifesting extremist strains reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

No one can say where this is leading, but it’s an important story. Earlier this year Chemi Shalev said at a downtown NY gallery opening for his newspaper, Haaretz, that Moshe Ya’alon was the political hope of the Israeli center-left. He’s got military cred, which “may not serve our self-image,” but is necessary for Labor to gain political support, and he lives on a kibbutz and has removed settlers from some illegal communities. Shalev portrayed Ya’alon as “shy” and a “man of principle”:

“He’s an anomaly. He’s a rightwinger, he’s a hawk, he’s a supporter of settlements. … He is one of dying breed of rightwingers who despite being hawkish and distrustful of any peace  with the Palestinians, he still believes in fair play and the rule of law…

“If we have to have somebody to succeed Bibi, he’s the best of the worst, because even though he might not advance the peace process, he would treat America differently, a lot of the stuff that’s going on now in the goverment that we’re very worried about, anti-leftist agitation, bordering on hysteria, he wouldn’t let all that happen.”