Trending Topics:

New York Times’s breathless story on landing interview with Netanyahu reads like ‘the Onion’ on crack

US Politics
on 23 Comments

The New York Times has become a parody of itself. It is impossible for anyone to parody the paper’s fulsome coverage of Benjamin Netanyahu. Two stories in today’s paper mark a dismal low point in the paper of record’s failure to inform American readers. First, here is “a rare and unusually reflective interview” with Benjamin Netanyahu in which there is NO reference to the charges of fascism and incipient Nazism that officials and former officials in his own government have leveled at the rightwing prime minister.

But there are a lot of lines that could have written by the Onion. Like these ones about Netanyahu and his older brother Yonatan.

Yoni and Bibi. Bibi and Yoni. For years, these paired nicknames have been hard to escape.

As you read the interview, remember that former Jerusalem correspondent Jodi Rudoren never got access to the Prime Minister after a story for which the paper apologized in which it published gossip about his wife Sara. (The correction said, “While her purported temper has been widely faulted, her child-rearing methods have not. Ms. Netanyahu is a respected child psychologist.”) The Times is evidently seeking to restore access to the PM before its new Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Baker, arrives in town.

Right alongside that Netanyahu interview that has nothing to do with the news is this story-behind-the-story: a whiteknuckled retelling by reporter Jeffrey Gettleman about how he got that interview with Netanyahu, and flew to Entebbe, Uganda, with the prime minister to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the daring raid on a hijacked plane in which Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan died, and 100 hostages were freed.

This reads like a Marvel comic.

As I dug deeper into the research, I realized with a twinge of soberness — and anxiety — that in my hands was one of the most precious stories Israel has to tell, and that I had better not screw up.

Yoni is an icon. He was the ideal Israeli. It wasn’t simply that he was handsome, intelligent, adventurous and patriotic; he seemed to embody a sense of sacrifice, of serving a cause greater than his own

It is necessary to reflect, as you read this next passage, that American Jews will always feel inadequate to Israeli Jews, because they serve in wars and we don’t, so who are we to find fault. That blackmail is held over us by Bill Kristol and liberal Zionists, too, and it defines the relationship. Which is why Jeffrey Goldberg, who did serve in an Israeli uniform, gets to be king of the hill in US journalism. Jeffrey Gettleman, breathless:

“I’ve learned since how to kill at close range, too — to the point of pressing the muzzle against the flesh,” Yoni wrote toward the end of his life. “It adds a whole dimension of sadness to a man’s being. Not a momentary, transient sadness, but something that sinks in and is forgotten, yet is there and endures.”

Who writes like this? His openness and self-awareness stunned me.

Again, working for the Onion, Gettleman gets his questions ready.

“Why wasn’t Yoni wearing a flak jacket when he was shot?” I asked.

“When exactly was he pronounced dead?”

“How many people had he killed on the battlefield?”

“And what about Harvard? Any recollection of which classes he took?”

So when I showed up for my meeting with the prime minister, I was prepared.

These Israelis are humble and inspiring figures:

We climbed the steps of a blocklike office building on a sunny hillside in Jerusalem. The prime minister’s office suite was about the size of my high school principal’s and not much fancier.

Third World leaders are bizarre, but not Netanyahu!

The Entebbe visit came off without a hitch, despite a bizarre speech from Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, in which he kept referring to Israel as “Palestine.”

The Israeli miracle is alive.

Maybe Entebbe made Israel feel invincible. When I considered what the Israelis had to work with at the time, I could see why. The intelligence had been spotty. Israeli military planes could barely fly that far. The whole thing had been thrown together fast, on a shoestring budget.

It’s hard to know what to say, beyond the fact that there is Huge institutional and cultural pressure on the New York Times and Jeffrey Gettleman to produce such pulp. We’re talking about the Israel lobby as a reflection of American Jewish life. What a story. And heavens to Betsy but the Times can’t touch it.

Thanks to Donald Johnson for the first idea in this post, and to James North. 

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

23 Responses

  1. annie
    annie
    July 13, 2016, 12:33 pm

    “URGENT,” the subject line read. “The Prime Minister is ready to meet you. Which day would be appropriate for you?”

    The prime minister is ready? For me?

    This wasn’t the prime minister of one of the dozen countries I cover in East Africa. This was the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Of course, I had seen him hundreds of times on television. But now, after a fluke involving a friend of a friend of a friend in Nairobi who had broached the idea of my writing about the prime minister’s coming trip to Africa, miraculously, or terrifyingly, the interview was on.

    oh my … the whole thing reads like this.

  2. eljay
    eljay
    July 13, 2016, 12:43 pm

    … Yoni is an icon. He was the ideal Israeli. It wasn’t simply that he was handsome, intelligent, adventurous and patriotic; he seemed to embody a sense of sacrifice, of serving a cause greater than his own …

    It’s too bad the “greater cause” he served…
    – was not the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality; but, instead,
    – was Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

    … “I’ve learned since how to kill at close range, too — to the point of pressing the muzzle against the flesh,” Yoni wrote toward the end of his life. “It adds a whole dimension of sadness to a man’s being. Not a momentary, transient sadness, but something that sinks in and is forgotten, yet is there and endures.” …

    But did this forgotten-yet-enduring sadness ever interfere with (the execution of) his belief – a belief shared by all Zio-supremacists – that Jews are entitled to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them?

    Or was he able to suppress the sadness and keep on Zio-truckin’?

  3. Rooster
    Rooster
    July 13, 2016, 1:15 pm

    And this, my friends, is what “fellating the donkey” looks like…

    • annie
      annie
      July 13, 2016, 1:21 pm

      ha! perfect rooster

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      July 13, 2016, 1:35 pm

      … what the honor of being first in line to fellate the donkey looks like.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      July 14, 2016, 9:56 am

      Well, I wasn’t going to say it…but the scent of rose water, images of re-enforced knees, the highest quality Israel made zipper…and the Malabi…ahhhh, the Malabi.

  4. Donald
    Donald
    July 13, 2016, 1:33 pm

    You captured this perfectly. I’d like to say you’re a comedic genius, but honestly, Jeffrey Gettleman did virtually all the work here. I wasn’t laughing out loud, as we denizens of the internet are often found doing, but there was a big smile on my face the whole way through the original article. Who could possibly write this crap and mean it?

    This guy is wasted at the NYT. As you say, the Onion is where this stuff belongs–you’d hardly have to change a word.

  5. Rooster
    Rooster
    July 13, 2016, 2:03 pm

    FTA:
    “The Entebbe visit came off without a hitch, despite a bizarre speech from Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, in which he kept referring to Israel as ‘Palestine.'”

    Well, I’d agree that the speech was bizarre. But not for referring to Israel as Palestine. Heck, that was the most normal thing about the speech.

    In fact, the obvious discomfort the Israeli contingent was experiencing was hilarious.

    Must see YouTube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TaJSMoC2oI

    The most remarkable thing is at 5:01 in the clip, wherein the Ugandan president briefly talks about the Zionist movement having considered a possible establishment of a Jewish state in Uganda, but that it was a good thing that didn’t come to pass because “otherwise we [Ugandans] would be fighting you [zionists] now.”

    Dore Gold’s reactions during this speech was worthwhile of its OWN article. But no real mention of any of this in the puff piece.

    Anyway, enjoy the clip.

  6. Boomer
    Boomer
    July 13, 2016, 2:04 pm

    re “they serve in wars and we don’t”

    If they want to serve, those American Jews can always volunteer for service in whichever military they want. Most that I know about seem to opt for Israel’s. But if they really want to see war, they should volunteer for the U.S., which has several conflicts going most of the time these days.

    • Boomer
      Boomer
      July 13, 2016, 2:23 pm

      PS: of course, if they want to see action against an enemy armed with more than slingshots, the U.S. Army (or Marines) would be the way to go. I wouldn’t call occupation and “friction action” against a civilian population a “war.”

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 13, 2016, 4:29 pm

        “of course, if they want to see action against an enemy armed with more than slingshots,”

        Take it easy, there, Boomer. Light arms and trucks, an RPG or two and some explosives is okay, but let’s not go crazy. No air power, modern communications, or mechanized units allowed.

      • Boomer
        Boomer
        July 14, 2016, 7:18 am

        @ Mooser: “Light arms and trucks, an RPG or two and some explosives is okay, but let’s not go crazy. No air power, modern communications, or mechanized units allowed.”

        I take your point. Those light arms seem to be pretty deadly when used by people willing to die in their own homeland. But they aren’t an “existential threat” to us in our homeland, like the pro-Israel folks like to worry about.

        ISIL had some nice American tanks for a while, gifted by us to the new Iraqi army we trained after wisely invading and disbanding Iraq’s army, then gifted by them to ISIL. But ISIL couldn’t maintain the tanks. And we wisely kept our distance until the tanks were useless.

        And of course our various enemies (who hate us because we are free) don’t have any air power. Not even a drone, not even a MANPAD. Think of what would happen if ISIL (or Doctors Without Borders) got their hands on some MANPADs. Maybe Saudi or some other country will arrange that. Or Mrs. Clinton, after she takes over.

        Actually, to continue your point, the last “real war” we won was WWII (and, with regard to Germany, the Russians have the notion that they did the heavy lifting).

  7. Kay24
    Kay24
    July 13, 2016, 4:25 pm

    Look at it this way, Gettleman did the right thing to make sure he will always get a job in the zionist media. That is also selling your soul to the devil.

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      July 13, 2016, 5:54 pm

      True, but there’s rarely such a public record of hazing (unless you count scenes from Animal House).

  8. Spring Renouncer
    Spring Renouncer
    July 13, 2016, 5:13 pm

    The New York Times is truly a joke: a timid, clichéd, propaganda press.

    Years ago, I read an article from the NYT archives, written about the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 — also known as India’s First War of Independence. I was amazed, not by the brazen racism and unconditional support for fellow Anglo-Saxon Brits even though they were undermining the US in all sorts of ways at the time, but because the article’s haughty and ignorant tone was indistinguishable from that of the Times in articles about Israel/ Palestine in 2016. There is this mirage of progress, but our system’s racist and imperial attitude has remained static in an unbelievable way. Also note that not all Westerners supported the British colonial venture in 1857, Marx, for example saw through the hysteria and labelled stories in the British press for what they were: racist propaganda. Bound to serve the interests of capital and ethno/religious supremacy — just as today — the Times was blind, just as it is blind when it reports Gaza and Palestine in general.

    Note that the destruction of Old Delhi and the subsequent extermination of the Mughal aristocracy — who were very liberal — is intimately and directly connected to the formation of radical Sunni Islam. William Dalyrmple talks about this process in his book “The Last Mughal”.

    • Boomer
      Boomer
      July 14, 2016, 7:28 am

      @Spring Renouncer, re: “The Last Mughal”

      Thanks for the reference. It looks like an interesting read.

      • Spring Renouncer
        Spring Renouncer
        July 15, 2016, 11:44 pm

        Welcome Boomer, I really enjoyed it. Though it’s enlightening non-fiction it reads like a novel.

  9. Mr.T
    Mr.T
    July 13, 2016, 5:50 pm

    Anyone surprised? The NYT is the fanclub newsletter of the JSIL here in America.

  10. bryan
    bryan
    July 14, 2016, 6:03 am

    There is apparently another side to Jeffrey Gettleman: a philosopher, trained at Harvard and Oxford, a Pulitzer prize winner for his fearless reporting of human rights abuses. According to Jack Shafer at Slate (a man who has “a weakness for reporters who have a knack for mining exotica without getting all exotic about it”): in dealing with ugly news his “method is to play it straight and direct, easy on the cynicism, and without a hint of any world weariness…. Gettleman can’t editorialize… Gettleman dons the big pants of the reliable narrator and puts the dead into deadpan.” And he is apparently utterly fearless: when kidnapped, “I was expecting to be shot immediately, and I wasn’t scared; I had gone beyond that point, and I had lost all control. I was just hoping it wouldn’t hurt.” (see http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2009/03/jeffrey_gettlemans_world_of_war.html)

    Why do so many journalists (present company excepted) desert their courageous and brutally honest beginnings to climb the slippery pole. Is he hoping for transfer from the hell-holes of Kenya, Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, to a cushy life in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? At least he would still be able to “cover ugly news—massacres, depravation, rape, riots, suicide bombings, mutilations”.

  11. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    July 14, 2016, 7:24 am

    @Rooster
    Thanks for the clip – an absolute hoot. The only thing that could possibly have made it better would have been if he had swopped his sundowner hat for a kippah and attempted a verse or two of Hava Nagila.

  12. Boo
    Boo
    July 14, 2016, 9:28 am

    First allow me to commend you for the surpassingly-rare correct usage of “fulsome” in your second sentence. It could serve as the example in the dictionary’s definition.

    As for “Yoni and Bibi” as an inescapable pairing — honestly, I’m much more familiar (and much more comfortable) with the propitious pairing of “Yoni and Lingam”. And rather than “pressing the muzzle against the flesh”, I greatly prefer the simpler and much more human “pressing the flesh”.

    Further, deponent sayeth naught.

  13. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    July 15, 2016, 12:37 pm

    From todays TOI:
    Another Yahoo 10 out of 10 on the pukeometer;

    “[E]very Israeli and Palestinian child deserves a life of hope, of tranquility and opportunity,” Netanyahu said. “I will continue to work tirelessly for peace. It’s time that you join this effort.”

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-to-abbas-stop-paying-terrorists-fire-aides-who-incite-violence/

    I don`t think the “tranquility” he was referring to included the 3.a.m. most moral “friction activity” raids on Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

    And of course he(it) continues tirelessly to work for every piece of land that can be stolen in the Occupied Territories.

Leave a Reply