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The ‘NYT’ fails to recognize that anti-Palestinian statements can express bigotry

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I finally read the New York Times piece on the Middle East issue on campus that some have criticized. I think writer Linda K. Wertheimer maybe tried to be fair, and some casual reader might think it was fair; but the bias is there. She says Israel built the wall to stop suicide bombings and while stating that it runs through the West Bank, doesn’t identify the problem there. She does mention pro-Palestinian complaints of being targeted as anti-semitic and pro Israel types’ complaints of anti-semitic statements and being blamed for actions by Israel.

Some students say they are ostracized when they show support for Israel, while Palestinian activists talk of being labeled “terrorists,” and finding their photos and names posted on canarymission, a website that tracks professors and students who, it says, promote “hatred of the United States, Israel and Jews.” S.J.P. [Students for Justice in Palestine] members insist they are anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic — a debatable distinction to those who cannot separate the state of Israel from their Jewish identity.

So here is the bias. The article revolves around whether or not people are anti-semitic, and the pro-Israel types get to frame the debate. At no point in the article is the question raised as to whether some forms of support for Israel really express a form of bigotry that should be condemned. There’s only one standard: The pro Palestinian folks are judged on whether or not they are antisemitic. The pro Israel side is not judged on whether or not they are anti-Palestinian. At best there is the acknowledgement that some charges of anti-semitism are overblown.

The good guys as portrayed in the story are the ones who seek “mediation” and want the students to get along. There is Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, an Israeli settler who overcame his fear of Palestinians:

His fear faded after attending a dinner of Palestinians and Jewish settlers organized by Roots, an effort based in the West Bank to achieve peace with nonviolence. He grew to realize that “our triumph was their tragedy,” and went on to lead Roots with Ali Abu Awwad, who co-founded the initiative in 2014…

Scanning the students in the room, Mr. Awwad criticized S.J.P. and divestment supporters for refusing to enter into dialogue with Jewish groups because they felt it legitimized Israel.

The bad guys are anti-semites or people who support Palestinian terrorism, with maybe some people guilty of making false charges of anti-semitism also being guilty– though the poor dears have made Israel part of their identity so it is understandable. And so when students report anti-semitic statements we don’t know how many of those were anti Israeli vs. anti Jewish.

Support for Israeli brutality as a form of bigotry– that’s not an issue at all. It doesn’t occur to the writer that it could be an issue. People take sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict, but only one side has a problem in that some of its members are bigots.

It’s like covering civil rights in America and only noticing the bigotry of Louis Farrakhan. Wertheimer and the Times editors probably think she was scrupulously fair.

Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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5 Responses

  1. RoHa on August 7, 2016, 8:10 pm

    Off topic but important news.

    Iran is the first country to ban Pokemon Go


    And ISIS might as well give up now.

    They can resist the Iraqi and Syrian armies, Hezbollah and Kurdish militias, Iran and Russia and the USA, but they will not be able to withstand the might of Denmark.

  2. RoHa on August 7, 2016, 8:13 pm

    On topic, now.

    Well, of course she writes that. Anti-Semitism is really the only important issue the world has to face, isn’t it?

  3. Brewer on August 7, 2016, 10:47 pm

    “She says Israel built the wall to stop suicide bombings ”
    “We have learned that all the Israeli governments since Sharon’s have been inclined to revise the barrier’s route on the basis of political considerations that take the needs of settlements into account, considerations that are alien to real security needs. They have done so even at the price of leaving gaps in the barrier that terrorists and Palestinian workers were able to penetrate – and of endangering the forces patroling the barrier, according to the High Court of Justice.
    read more:

    “The significance of the second factor, Hamas’ ceasefire, was acknowledged by none other than the Israeli security services. In January 2006, Shin Bet’s annual statistics showed a considerable drop in “terror attacks” for 2005, with “the main reason for the sharp decline,” Shin Bet said, “the [Hamas-called] truce in the [occupied] territories.”

    Haaretz commented that “the security fence is no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it.” The “main reason for the reduction in terrorist acts,” the report emphasized, was the Hamas truce, and the organization’s “focus on the political arena.”

    Even a 2004 paper authored by an Israeli colonel that was intended to show the effectiveness of the “security fence” in reducing suicide bombing attacks referred to the wall as one of three causes for the drop. Avi Dichter, head of Shin Bet from 2000-2005, was clear in 2011 that “the West Bank fence alone did not solve the terror problem.”……
    …..While the two main myths propagated by Israel lobbyists are easily debunked, there are plenty of things we do know for certain about the wall.

    We know that from the ICJ to the Red Cross, it has been described as illegal. We know of its disastrous impact on Palestinian farmers, villages, cities, families, schoolchildren, students and many others. We know that from Jenin to Bethlehem, through the concrete-split streets of East Jerusalem, the wall has become another element of Israel’s colonization of Palestine, one more link in the apartheid chain.

    The propaganda myths about security are intended to hide this reality but, like the wall itself, they are arguments full of holes.”

  4. pgtl10 on August 8, 2016, 12:26 am

    Thanks for this article. It is a shame that every time we Palestinians ask for rights that it is somehow anri-semetic when we dare to think we are equal human beings to Jews.

    Dialogue is a favorite tactics of Pro-Israel groups because of the unequal power dynamics which allows descrimination to persevere.

    Maybe one day people will realize that pro-Israel groups are often advocating descrimination towards non-Jews rather than support for Israel.

  5. CigarGod on August 8, 2016, 10:27 am

    Good work, Donald.
    I use NPR and BBC to hone my propaganda detecting skills. Daily.
    It is easy to do when it is specifically Israel, USA, Middle East, GB, Canada…even France. Gets a little more difficult to detect in the rest of EU. Having some success with India, Venezuela, Cuba.
    If course, all one really needs to know, is virtually all staff at NPR/BBC and other world affiliates are Zionists.

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