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‘New York Times’ finally tells its readers: Netanyahu is ‘dangerous’

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Yesterday the New York Times ran a great piece of journalism on the political crisis in Israel. We have long complained on this site that the Times is hiding Israel’s extremist intolerant face from its readers. Ronen Bergman’s piece went against that pattern entirely. Here are some of the truths that Bergman dared to tell:

–Israeli military leaders “detest” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because he sought “belligerent solutions” to problems and is motivated not by the country’s interest but by “religion, ideology,” and his own political ambitions.

— Netanyahu launched one war these leaders opposed — the 2014 slaughter in Gaza that killed 500 children — and had a “plan” to launch another one, an attack on Iran six years ago, that was “illegal,” because he would have circumvented his own cabinet. “The military and intelligence leaders believed that the prime minister’s plan to attack Iran’s nuclear installations was politically motivated by electoral considerations and would embroil Israel in a superfluous war.”

–The man Netanyahu has lately installed as Defense Minister — Avigdor Lieberman — is “an impulsive and reckless extremist… known for ruthlessly quashing people who hold opposing views.” Lieberman has threatened to blow up the Aswan Dam.

–There could be a military coup in Israel, if Lieberman acts out. “[T]he possibility of a military coup has been raised — but only with a smile,” Bergman reports from his conversations with military leaders. “It remains unlikely.”

The shocking picture Ronen Bergman, a military and intelligence correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, gives Americans is of a country that sounds a lot more like a third world dictatorship than the only democracy in the middle east. The country’s military leaders think Netanyahu pursues “dangerous, aggressive policies.” Anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of dealing with the man wants nothing to do with him. We readers can’t tell if Netanyahu is a crazy dictator or a tribal ideologue or a man of overweening ambition, but we know that Israeli experts say they can’t trust him.

Read Bergman for yourself, then ask yourself: Why was it such a daring move by Bernie Sanders to say, “Netanyahu is not right all of the time”?  Why does Hillary Clinton say that she would invite Netanyahu to the White House in her first month as president? And why, if Netanyahu’s judgment is so inflamed by personal ambition and “ideology”, was Clinton “swayed” by Netanyahu to oppose any dealings with Iran, back when American negotiations began? Why did Clinton surrogate Neera Tanden fawn over Netanyahu in a progressive space last year?

The answer to these questions is that the American discussion of Netanyahu is distorted by propagandists. We are not allowed to assess this person’s statements in the way we would any other foreign head of state. We are all supposed to close our eyes and act like he’s a normal leader. And if you don’t do that, you’re an anti-Semite. Many brave journalists have tried to warn us about Netanyahu, but the mainstream press under the influence of the Israel lobby has blocked that understanding. So when an honest eminent journalist– James Fallows– supported the Iran deal last year by saying “I am deadset against my country drifting into further needless unwinnable wars,” a pro-Israel website promptly attacked Fallows as an anti-semite and Holocaust-dismisser, who was indifferent to the fact that “the Jews of Europe were exterminated en masse in living memory.”

That was when Netanyahu was lobbying the Congress to oppose the Iran deal, taking on the president inside the Capitol; but the New York Times failed to report what it is telling us now: that he can’t be believed when he is making claims about Israel’s security. His own top generals were opposed to the slaughter he launched in Gaza; he did so for political and “ideological” purposes; and that he had a plan to launch an illegal and dangerous war on Iran a few years before. And of course he told Congress in 2002 that if we only invaded Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein, the Middle East would be transformed. Hillary Clinton was “swayed” then too.

As you read Bergman’s account, ask yourself: Would President Obama ever call the family of a soldier, shown on video to the eyes of the world to be a tribal executioner, and stand by that soldier? Of course not. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in a real democracy. But it’s just what Netanyahu did, enraging his military command, who have the job of running an illegal occupation.

Probably the most telling sign of Bergman’s honesty was this: that he dared to inform readers about the Lavon affair.

In 1954, military intelligence initiated, out of sight of Prime Minister Moshe Sharett, a series of terrorist attacks in Egypt with the aim of causing a rift between that country and the United States and Britain.

So NYT readers could actually go online and learn that in July 1954 Israeli secret agents in Egypt, ok’d by the acting defense minister Pinchas Lavon, planted bombs in American and British libraries and offices, and in cinemas showing western movies, in an effort to scuttle the growing acceptance of the Nasser government by the U.S. and the British. That’s right. A wildeyed defense minister undertook crazy covert military activities in other countries so as to manipulate American foreign policy.

Pro-Israel propagandists will never tell you about the Lavon affair. Just look at Dennis Ross’s recent book about how the Israel-U.S. relationship is vital to U.S. interests. He has to mention the Lavon affair because it helped bring down an Israeli government. But he lies about it– simply describing it as “failed and embarrassing espionage operations.”

Bergman’s honesty about the madness of Israeli leaders and the liabilities of the U.S. Israel relationship is echoed by Israel’s top television military analyst saying he’s not sure he wants his children to stay in Israel. And it reminds us of the journalist who is yet to weigh in on the crisis in the Israeli government: Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, the leading propagandist for Israel in the United States. Goldberg has had nothing yet to say about events that completely undermine the image of Israel he projects to the west. Why just last year, Goldberg berated Secretary of State John Kerry over the Iran deal by saying he was underestimating the threat of a second holocaust posed by the Ayatollah Khamenei. And Goldberg cited this statement of Khamenei’s as evidence– a statement that says nothing about exterminating Jews, it only says that Khamenei wants a one-state solution, which is today the position of many on the left. While Goldberg is silent about Israel’s new defense minister– “an impulsive and reckless extremist” who once threatened to blow up the Aswan Dam, as the New York Times informs us. That is news.

Finally, consider this paradox. Numerous American leaders have come out against the international campaign to “delegitimize” Israel as some kind of sinister and anti-semitic conspiracy. Ronen Bergman has just done more to delegitimize the Israeli government than anyone holding a placard outside an Israeli consulate. It’s time that American politicians begin to reflect this understanding.


Philip Weiss

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

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Yakov Hirsch

Yakov Hirsch is a professional poker player and a writer. His twitter handle is @Yakovhirsch and his articles are posted at

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33 Responses

  1. Pixel on May 23, 2016, 12:44 pm

    The article really is quite astounding.
    From the original: “Elor Azariah, a sergeant in the I.D.F., shot and killed a Palestinian assailant…”

    I highly respect the fact that Bergman used the term “assailant” vs. “terrorist,” which has been used by almost every other article I have read about the victim’s death murder of this courageous resistance fighter.

    • Yakov Hirsch on May 23, 2016, 12:45 pm

      Good point!

    • echinococcus on May 23, 2016, 12:49 pm

      Bah, the entire Bergman paper is in fact good news for the Zionists. Also for those Zionists in the US who are in power. Pulling down the mask was a proud gesture of Nazis –as it is a proud gesture of Zionists, with US support and complicity guaranteed. The “liberal” Zionists may pretend to be horrified (I don’t hear much of horror in Bergman, anyway) but they are delighted, or will soon be. Weiss and Hirsch are way too optimistic. Excessive optimism may become a crime one day.

      • traintosiberia on May 23, 2016, 10:51 pm

        Why do you hank so? Can you expand on it please?

      • Lillian Rosengarten on May 24, 2016, 11:23 am

        Echino—-How does your comment help anything? Forget about labeling Zionists or non Zionists. This is not about Nazis or about liberal Zionists.

      • echinococcus on May 25, 2016, 12:52 am


        Forget about labeling Zionists or non Zionists. This is not about Nazis or about liberal Zionists.

        If that is your perception, we have no common ground for a discussion.

    • WH on May 24, 2016, 3:34 am

      I saw Miko Peled post at the time that according to at least one eyewitness, the ‘assailant’ in question had not even perpetrated an attack and had his hands up when he was first shot. But I couldn’t find this information anywhere else.

  2. Pixel on May 23, 2016, 12:54 pm

    From the original: “a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights,…”

    “further erode.” I would have expected to read “begin to erode.”

  3. pabelmont on May 23, 2016, 1:07 pm

    Cruel of you otherwise kindly folks to rub Clinton’s nose in this, but timely, too, since the DNC (like others) reads the polls and knows that Clinton is falling behind Trump (behind Trump !!) at a time when the DNC and its special non-elected delegates still have time to choose Sanders if they come to see Clinton as a loser.

    We live in a time of extremists being (or feeling that they are) “on a roll”. The Netanyahu group in Israel is a prime (and early) example of this. Israel has got where it is today by (as many must see it) ignoring world opinion, law, standards of human rights, etc. And so, being “on a roll”, they continue to ignore world opinion and have dissed the French proposal for a renewed peace process. Israel doesn’t want its arm twisted. They like the pretend arm-twisting from the USA. But they forget something.

    What Netanyahu & Co. forget is that they’ll always get a better deal from a complacent world (as it still is today) than they’ll get from an angered or out-of-patience world — as it may well be tomorrow. And this new government seems as good as any to make the world angry.

    Not that anyone can predict anything accurately, not even the future.

  4. a blah chick on May 23, 2016, 1:40 pm

    “…why, …was Clinton “swayed” by Netanyahu to oppose any dealings with Iran, back when American negotiations began? Why did Clinton surrogate Neera Tanden fawn over Netanyahu in a progressive space last year?”

    Because Clinton and Tanden are political apparatchiks who are only interested in continuing their dubious political careers in the time honored way-sucking up to the big donors who, among other things, expect complete servility to the Likud. This, they have been told is the only way to succeed in American politics. Also they’re idiots.

  5. Marnie on May 23, 2016, 1:56 pm

    “The shocking picture Ronen Bergman, a military and intelligence correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, gives Americans is of a country that sounds a lot more like a third world dictatorship than the only democracy in the middle east. ”

    My fellow americans who do not read MW – wake up and smell the coffee, please! Israel is a 3rd world dictatorship and has never been the only democracy in the middle east.

    I am wondering, now with this shocking development of honest reporting in the NYT, if americans will ever openly discuss the USS Liberty.

  6. surewin on May 23, 2016, 2:18 pm

    Israel attacking Iran would have embroiled Israel in a superfluous war? Seems it might have embroiled Iran in the same war, and probably the United States. And it would have been “superfluous”?

    • pabelmont on May 24, 2016, 7:53 am

      Israel’s various assaults agaisnt Gaza were superfluous but not dangerous for Israel (as long as it could avoid censure for war crimes). Attacking neighboring nuclear installations has seemed a winning strategy in the past for Israel (b/c there were no bad consequences for Israel). But attacking Iran might backfire in one way or another, and the USA believed this and therefore avoided that war.

      So attacking Iran would have been no more evil than attacking Gaza, but might have been quite dangerous. I bet “superfluous” here means “dangerous for Israel”.

      • Lillian Rosengarten on May 24, 2016, 11:30 am

        Nothing superfluous about the reign of terror in Gaza. Completely dangerous for Israel as it is now a failed state despised for its brutal racist agenda, stolen land and ethnic cleansing.

  7. wondering jew on May 23, 2016, 2:45 pm

    Technical point, the article states regarding lieberman: “the man Netanyahu has lately installed as defense minister.” Inaccurate. Netanyahu has not yet installed him. Coalition negotiations have not concluded. “The man Netanyahu plans to install as defense minister” would be accurate.

  8. James North on May 23, 2016, 3:19 pm

    What is absolutely extraordinary is that this truthful article had to appear on the opinion page, written by an outsider, instead of in the news section, reported by Times correspondents.

  9. Kay24 on May 23, 2016, 5:02 pm

    A great article by Phil Weiss and Yakov Hirsch, and I also found the comments in response to be very interesting. The article in the NYT could be a flash in the pan, but ideally it should be the opening to many more similar article simply giving us the facts and the truth. It would be a breath of fresh air to see more article like the one written by Ronen Bergman. Was someone asleep at the NYT to let this one slip by?

    Things have taken an even more dangerous turn in Israel with Netanyahu changing his government, and the nation, to more extremism. It is time that we called a spade a spade, and time to stop pretending that he is a normal leader, and he isn’t.

    Most off balanced leaders have been encouraged to keep their dangerous policies going, because everyone pretends that is the norm. Israel is supposed to be a true “democracy” and there are certain standards that the US must expect that nation to uphold, before we write that large check for billions and billions, and before we ship those deadly weapons, that can be dangerous to neighbors and unarmed civilians. We KNOW Netanyahu lies to kill civilians, and that he kills and then lies. We KNOW he protects and supports killers of Arabs, even women and children, so why then do these American politicians keep kissing up and pretending that Netanyahu is a leader of high standing, and that Israel is that beacon of shining light?

    “We readers can’t tell if Netanyahu is a crazy dictator or a tribal ideologue or a man of overweening ambition, but we know that Israeli experts say they can’t trust him.”

    Netanyahu exhibits traits of all the above, and no one, not even world leaders trust him

    So why does the USA act like we do?

  10. Mike Hite on May 23, 2016, 6:05 pm

    The truth continues to slip out of Israel into the media. I wonder how the hasbarist will counter this

  11. lonely rico on May 23, 2016, 8:17 pm

    Israel attacking Iran would have embroiled Israel in a superfluous war.

    Israeli brass wants to avoid ‘superfluous’ wars;
    Netanyahoo’s thuggish lack of understanding;

    Israel’s essential and necessary wars,
    should do the job –
    destruction, suffering, death –
    get the Palestinians moving,
    out of the way of the master race.

  12. traintosiberia on May 23, 2016, 11:02 pm


    talknic May 23, 2016, 6:57 pm

    But that carefully carried out collective destruction of green house was presented to Anerica by the bomber boy
    this way

    “What occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza. It dismantled every settlement, withdrew every soldier, evacuated every Jew, leaving nothing and no one behind. Except for the greenhouses in which the settlers had grown fruit and flowers for export. These were left intact to help Gaza’s economy — only to be trashed when the Palestinians took over.

    • Lillian Rosengarten on May 24, 2016, 11:38 am

      Trainto— Are you crazy? I have been to Gaza and your falsifications are complicit with the crimes of Israel. For shame!

      • oldgeezer on May 24, 2016, 12:01 pm

        errrm he was quoting Krauthammer and not endorsing it :)

  13. Kay24 on May 24, 2016, 7:28 am

    Netanyahu seems not only dangerous but quite dishonest, according to Israel’s State Comptroller, Shapira, who incidentally looks a bit like Crying Wolf Biitzer!

    “State Comptroller Joseph Shapira blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his report, to be published Tuesday, for his conduct in the multi-year saga dubbed the “Bibi Tours Affair”.

    The report’s allegations of problematic conduct relating to possible double billing and use of public bonus miles for personal use by Netanyahu relate to his term as finance minister from March 2003 to August 2005.

    Netanyahu reportedly denied that the allegations amount to anything.”

    • oldgeezer on May 24, 2016, 12:05 pm

      For an amazingly significant number of PM’s it seems the political office is merely a stepping stone on the way to a prison cell. I guess when you are corrupted by racist ideologies such as zionism it’s easy to get corrupted in other ways. And they complain about Palestinian leaders even though an IMF audit found funds accounted for, save for small amounts which were repaid.

      zionist projectile vomiting.

      • Kay24 on May 24, 2016, 2:17 pm

        I remember at one time the hateful has brats used to attack Arafat and his wife for being corrupt, look who is selling empty bottles owned by the state and pocketing the cash now. Many of Israel’s “virtuous” leaders have been investigated for corruption (one in jail) and Netanyahu’s boss, Sara, has been found guilty of abusing the help, having to pay up in a civil case.
        These people in glass houses constantly throw stones.

      • Mooser on May 24, 2016, 7:41 pm

        “For an amazingly significant number of PM’s it seems the political office is merely a stepping stone on the way to a prison cell.”

        Yes, one even got the death penalty, if I remember. And he got it for speculation (about a peace deal), not peculation.

  14. pabelmont on May 24, 2016, 8:17 am

    NYT must let some truth out every once in a while to begin to condition its so-coddled Zionist readers (the rest of its readers don’t count) to a different way of thinking; but it cannot afford to be accused of stating such “truths” itself. Hence its rotten reporting. One wonders if NYT would print a criticism of Zionism which stated (what the NYT itself considered to be) lies. That is, can NYT’s publication of this op-ed be taken for a sign that NYT believes the truth of what is said?

  15. Ossinev on May 24, 2016, 1:29 pm

    Ye Gods it is even telling its readers that there may be “Extremist” , “Violent” and “Racist” elements within the West Bank settlements:

    No pun intended but I do hope these two albeit not full frontal articles are a”sign of the Times”

    • John O on May 25, 2016, 6:15 am

      We have our own version of this in the UK right now, as most of our newspapers back the campaign to leave the European Union. But every day throws up fresh examples of the weakness of the case for leaving; the incompetence of the politicians leading the campaign and their continual infighting; the warnings from everyone from Obama on down that it’s a bad idea.

      Slowly, but inexorably, they are waking up to the fact that they have been backing the wrong horse.

  16. anti_republocrat on May 25, 2016, 4:19 pm

    Good article, but I have one minor comment. Operation Susannah, the false flag attack on US and UK with the intent to blame the attacks on Nasser, was not approved by Lavon. He resigned over the matter, but was later exonerated. He knew nothing about it. Indications are that it was secretly approved by David Ben-Gurion himself.

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