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Hasbara-steria: Netanyahu ministers charge NYT with ‘journalistic terror attack,’ hunger striker with ‘suicide terror attack’

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The publication of an op-ed by Palestinian prisoner and leader Marwan Barghouti in the New York Times in its international edition last weekend surely marks a new high point in Israel’s international isolation — Barghouti called Israel a “moral and political failure” — but the enraged response by Israeli politicians in turn marks a new high point in hasbara, or propaganda. One Netanyahu minister has accused the newspaper of a “journalistic terror attack,” while another accused Barghouti of staging a “suicide terror attack” for leading the hunger strike that was the subject of his article.

A roundup of some of the reactions. First, here is Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on his Facebook page, waxing righteous about Barghouti’s op-ed, which was titled “Why We Are on Hunger Strike In Israel’s Prisons”:

I read, on Sunday, the article in the New York Times that presents arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti as a ‘parliamentarian and leader’. The paper recanted after we pointed it out to them.

Calling Barghouti a ‘political leader’ is like calling Assad a ‘pediatrician.’ They are murderers and terrorists. We will never lose our sense of clarity because we are on the side of justice and they are on the side that is neither just nor moral….

This Israeli TV report quotes Michael Oren, a deputy minister in the Netanyahu government, calling the article a “journalistic terror attack.” Oren says Israel should consider shutting down the Times’s Jerusalem bureau, and says the Times ran the article on the last day of Passover so as to mute an Israeli response:

Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren.. called on the government to consider punitive action against the paper—including possibly closing its Israel bureau.

Speaking to Army Radio on Monday, Oren described the publication as a “journalistic terror attack”, and railed the Times for publishing “fake news” that was “full of lies.”

“As for the New York Times, if someone in the paper helped him [smuggle the op-ed out of prison], the New York Times should be held accountable,” Oren told Army Radio.

Acknowledging that such a move might “sound extreme”, he explained that there was precedent: “At the start of the Second Intifada, when CNN… helped terrorists,” he said, “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not hesitate to close its bureau here.”…

Oren, until recently Israel’s ambassador to Washington, further accused the editors of the New York Times of running the piece deliberately on the last day of Passover in order to make it difficult for the Israeli government to respond.

Yousef Munayyer responded on twitter:

To Israel:

BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] is “Economic Terrorism”

Seeking UN membership is “Diplomatic Terrorism”

Writing an Op-Ed is “Journalistic Terrorism”

Larry Derfner responds to Michael Oren on his Facebook page:

A rabid, intolerant, ultra-nationalist, anti-democratic propagandist who grew up in America, and who has a Ph.D., and who publishes books, and who knows how to smile for the camera, is still a rabid, intolerant, ultra-nationalist, anti-democratic propagandist.

The Times of Israel has a big story on the New York Times’s own backtracking on the article, including its addition of a note laying out Barghouti’s alleged crimes. As well as the criticism of the article by Times public editor Liz Spayd. She wrote that the Times editors failed to carry out due diligence with respect to Barghouti’s backstory.

Do the authors of the pieces have any conflicts of interest that could challenge their credibility? Are they who they say they are, and can editors vouch for their fidelity?

I  see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages.

In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, a strong Israel supporter, is also critical of the Times:

It’s debatable if Marwan Barghouti has a political future. Pals & Israelis debate it. But NYT was wrong not cite his terrorism conviction.

(P.S. Mandela had no political future till South African President FW de Klerk let him out of jail in 1990, after 27 years behind bars, a year after de Klerk had begun dismantling apartheid.)

The Anti Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt was also righteous about the Times’s alleged lapse. “Can’t happen.” (Sounds like Trumpspeak.)

Not all American Jews feel that way. Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace calls the Times’s shift an “infuriating collapse.”

Haaretz reports that an Israeli minister called the prisoners’ hunger strike that Barghouti is leading “a new type of suicide terrorist attack.”

The cabinet on Sunday approved a controversial bill allowing the authorities to force feed prisoners who are on hunger strike if their life is deemed in danger….

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who is promoting the law, said after its approval that he seeks to get the legislation passed as soon as possible. “Security prisoners are interested in turning a hunger strike into a new type of suicide terrorist attack through which they will threaten the State of Israel. We will not allow anyone to threaten us and we will not allow prisoners to die in our prisons,” said Erdan.

This goes to Munayyer’s tweet: These guys sure don’t feel very secure about their state’s legitimacy!

Here is Lisa Goldman at +972 noting that the rectitudinous NYT policy on identifying Barghouti’s alleged crimes did not extend to Ariel Sharon and Naftali Bennett, when they published op-eds without the newspaper itemizing the blood on their hands.

It seems that the New York Times is willing to publish op-eds by Israeli Jews who advocate or have committed murder of Palestinians, without mentioning that fact in their bio blurbs. So the question, without taking a position on whether or not political violence is ever justified, is why the Times feels compelled to take a different stance when it comes to Palestinian contributors.

The answer to Goldman is pretty simple: the prominence of the Israel lobby in mainstream US institutions. Which is ebbing. The Times article is a reflection of the fact that the double standard for Palestinians is growing more and more problematic by the minute, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the occupation. The Israeli officials are aware of this crisis in legitimacy. Thus the crazy hasbara.

Thanks to James North and Scott Roth. 




Philip Weiss

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

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23 Responses

  1. eljay on April 19, 2017, 3:29 pm

    … another [Netanyahu minister] accused Barghouti of staging a “suicide terror attack” for leading the hunger strike that was the subject of his article. …

    Choosing to die by starvation is now considered a form of terrorism. Huh. At this rate, it won’t be long before a non-Jew’s existence constitutes terrorism. And I thought Zionists were supposed to be “Captain Israel” tough. Go figure…

    • just on April 19, 2017, 3:47 pm

      It never ceases to cause nausea.

      I keep trying to link to the piece in Haaretz from April 13th in which the usual deplorables criticize Haaretz for publishing an op-ed by Yossi Klein criticizing the ‘religious Zionist’ movement in its Hebrew edition…

      Lieberman even calls for… wait for it… a boycott of the paper!

      (can’t figure out why I can’t post it)

      • just on April 20, 2017, 5:54 am

        Here’s Gideon Levy responding to readers. In this case, a couple who’ve decided to take The Bouncer’s advice to boycott Haaretz :

        “A Heartfelt Apology to Haaretz Readers …

        Dear Orna and Moshe Gan-Zvi,

        I was saddened to read in Tuesday’s Hebrew edition of Haaretz that you’ve decided to cancel your subscription. I don’t know you, but I will miss you as readers. As someone who is partly responsible for your decision, as your article indicated, allow me to apologize. To apologize for writing the truth all these years. I should have taken into account that this truth wasn’t palatable to you, and acted accordingly.

        It was not pleasant for you to read the theory put forward by me and my fellow Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass about the occupation. You, who are active in Rotary Israel, who come from the business world, who are so proud of your children and the fact that they live in the West Bank. Your son was educated at the Eli premilitary academy, and your granddaughters proudly carry the last name Sheetrit. You, who are so pleased with yourselves and your values, with your children and your morals, don’t think you should be forced to read unpleasant truths. You simply don’t deserve it.

        Indeed, how could I have spent all these years publishing articles that even you, generously, admitted were touching, without ever, to my shame, checking how these Palestinian families ended up in their serious predicaments? Really, how did that happen? Of course it was their own fault, but I keep blaming the Israel Defense Forces – how could I? And how could Amira Hass be so one-sided and lacking in perspective that would explain how a people could prefer the elimination of another people over a democratic society? Really, how could you, Amira?

        I assume, Moshe, that if they were to lock you in a cage for years, you would continue your Rotary membership and refuse to back a struggle against your incarceration. I assume, Orna, that if foreign soldiers were to burst into your home in the middle of the night and arrest your Moshe before your eyes, kick him, force him to his knees, blindfold him, handcuff him, and beat him in front of your children who study in Eli – and then snatch him from your home for months without trial – you would be looking for some “creative leadership” for your people.

        I assume that you, who come from the business world, would lovingly accept those who confiscate your property and ban you from your own land. I’m sure it would never occur to you to struggle against those who have tortured you with such evil for so many years.

        What can we do? The Palestinians are different from you, dear Orna and Moshe. They were not born in such lofty heights as you. They are human animals, bloodthirsty, born to kill. Not all of them are as ethical as you and your children from the Eli academy. Yes, there are people who fight for their freedom. There are people who are forced to do so violently. In fact, there are almost no nations who haven’t acted this way, including the chosen people you’re proud to belong to. Not only do you belong; you are the pillar of fire that leads the camp, you’re the best, the moral elite – you, the religious Zionists.

        I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; the occupier and the occupied? Forgive me for daring to turn off your joy and pride in the land flowing with milk and Mobileye, and cherry tomatoes, too. There are so many wonderful things in this country, and Haaretz – with its “moral deterioration,” as you call it – is ruining the party. How did I not see that you don’t like to read the truth, and didn’t take this into account when I’d return from the occupied territories every week to write about what I’d seen with my own eyes?

        But now it’s too late. The call to boycott chocolate spread was too much even for you, so you’ve decided to boycott Haaretz. From now on, the only paper on your coffee table will be the weekly, right-wing Makor Rishon. They won’t write about how IDF soldiers sprayed five Palestinian car passengers with bullets three weeks ago, and I’m sure your Shabbats will be a lot more pleasant from now on.”

        read more:


        (I still cannot link the article that I referenced above… perhaps the “Hebrew edition” is special)

      • Marnie on April 22, 2017, 3:32 am

        Agree – the Zofran can’t touch the queasiness I feel whenever I see Oren’s mug.

        I also linked Gideon Levy’s ‘apology’ on another page, it was ‘just’ perfect!

    • oldgeezer on April 19, 2017, 6:53 pm


      They think they’re tough because with advanced weapons they can slaughter unarmed women and children. As long as they’re mikes away or thousands of feet up. They wouldn’t last against a comparably equipped force.

      • festus on April 20, 2017, 4:39 pm

        We have seen this time and time again when the IDF entered Lebanon and met with Hezzbollah fighters and when they went into Gaza and met by Hamas fighters. The latter resulted in that nonsensical “terror tunnels” propaganda. You can also see it in videos from the West Bank when the IDF runs from women and kids and oft kills them of beats them for no apparent reason.

    • Keith on April 19, 2017, 7:39 pm

      ELJAY- “Choosing to die by starvation is now considered a form of terrorism. Huh.”

      The absurdity and outlandishness of some of the responses to this minor event are rather striking, aren’t they? What next? Terrorists who shamelessly attack the heels of Zionist boots with their face? I suspect that much of this is all for show, just like the “settlers” who were “cruelly” expelled from Gaza in front of cameras in a staged exhibition. This whole thing is probably designed to make the NYT look fair and courageous to liberals.

    • oldgeezer on April 19, 2017, 9:29 pm


      diplomatic terrorism.
      mass murder of women and children = self defense.
      a woman’s womb is an existential threat.

      The world is filled with violent murderous people. Jihadists. Dictators. Empires. Israel is a beacon to the the lowest of the low.

      And that applies to Israel and the average Israeli supporter. The settlers are a breed that are much lower on the ladder of humanity.

      Victimhood perfected.

      • Rashers2 on April 20, 2017, 3:31 pm

        “Israel is a beacon to the the lowest of the low.” Aptly put, @oldgeezer, although I might raise a teeny, tiny questionmark against your final assertion: are you SURE that the settlers are human at all? Many behave as if they’d been possessed by alien creatures, incapable of differentiating right from wrong, which – one night soon after 1967 – emerged from the sewers beneath Brooklyn.

  2. amigo on April 19, 2017, 3:55 pm

    What,s going on at the NYT.

    Publishing articles about Israel without approval from Tel Aviv.

    Someone is losing their grip.Hasbara central is overworked and spread far too thinly on the ground and it,s going to get worse, much worse.

  3. jd65 on April 19, 2017, 4:12 pm

    “Suicide terror attack.” Stunning. You can’t make this stuff up. Mind numbing. What a frickin’ freak show.

  4. amigo on April 19, 2017, 4:33 pm

    Choosing to die by hunger strike requires the ultimate degree of courage , such courage that the most moral army heroes can only dream of .Compare these men to the cowardly Azaria who so callously murdered a helpless Palestinian, just recently.

    The hunger strikers in Northern Ireland not only suffered the pain of slow starvation but were continuously tortured by their jailers , who would place cooked meals in their cells.
    When this did not weaken their resolve , the authorities would force feed them.This is a particularly cruel process and led to a huge increase in support for their plight not to mention a rise in membership of the IRA and mass riots on the streets of Northern Ireland.The Iron Lady ( M,Thatcher) finally gave in but not before 10 men had died and the strike had been called off , notably ,without a promise not to restart it.

    Israel must be aware of the history in Northern Ireland but given the far greater level of cruelty and lawlessness of the rogue nation , it would be naive to imagine they could care less if all 1000 died of hunger.After all , in the zionist mind , these people are all terrorists and more importantly , they are Non Jews.

    This is the evil nature of the beast known as the so called “Jewish State.”.

  5. patrickb57 on April 19, 2017, 4:41 pm

    The silver lining in the cloud is that Michael Oren — at least I hope — is no longer a citizen of the United States, where he was born and educated. I wish other American Jews who owe their allegiance first and foremost to Israel would leave the country and surrender their U.S. passports on exiting. Any American who forgoes voluntary service in the U.S. military but joins the Israeli Defense Forces should be stripped of American citizenship. Their loyalties lie elsewhere, and they demonstrate as much.

    • Eva Smagacz on April 20, 2017, 4:26 am

      I am sure Palestinians would not thank you for it. They really do not need any more colonial immigration to Palestine.
      You may think that some people do not deserve American passport, but do not impose them on the rest of humanity. Mind you….. Yemen may agree to take them if accompanied by humanitarian food supplies

    • Kay24 on April 20, 2017, 7:13 am

      I agree. Their loyalties are first and foremost for Israel, and they will push for Israeli policies, even if it is not the best for the US, and may even hurt it. Lying to the American people is also fine by them. Unfortunately, these snakes have too much of influence in this country, and can influence our policies, even from stolen lands.

  6. festus on April 19, 2017, 6:16 pm

    The Zionists have been getting away with character assassination and flat out lies for a long time now.

  7. pabelmont on April 19, 2017, 7:03 pm

    It was on-line at NYT and on paper at NYT-Int’l.
    The NYT never presented the terrorist credentials of Sharon and various other Iseraeli leaders — yes they were leaders and yes they were terrorists — so why does it have yo back dowen on Barghouti?

    Answer (surprise!): BIG-ZION/AIPAC.

  8. JWalters on April 19, 2017, 8:41 pm

    Correction –

    Calling Netanyahu a ‘political leader’ is like calling Weizmann a ‘chemist.’ They are murderers and terrorists. We will never lose our sense of clarity because we are on the side of justice and they are on the side that is neither just nor moral.

  9. Paranam Kid on April 20, 2017, 12:12 am

    israel is getting increasingly desperate to choke off any sign of even acknowledging the existence of Palestinians, who are seen by the conservatives (I am using a politically “correct” term) in israel & elsewhere as “Untermenschen”, a term once reserved for the Jews.

    israel’s frenzy can only be ascribed to its realisation that, as an ethnocratic racist state (founded on racist ideology: zionism), it lacks complete legitimacy in its current form: not its existence per sé (approved by the UN), but its administration, policies, treatment of Paestinians (officially exposed as Apartheid by the UN), theft of the Palestinian Territories, and its blatant & consistent flouting of international law. Hence Hasbara is working increasingly more overtime.

    1 point not mentioned here: Menachem Begin and Yitzak Shamir, amongst others, were once terrorists of no lesser degree that Marwan Barghouti, and they still rose to the rank of Prime Minister. In other words, as a jewish terrorist it is possible to run israel. Amazing.

  10. Boomer on April 20, 2017, 7:14 am

    Juan Cole presents some relevant observations from Ma’an:

  11. Ossinev on April 20, 2017, 10:12 am

    “Security prisoners are interested in turning a hunger strike into a new type of suicide terrorist attack”

    So tortured exhausted emaciated 5 stone shells of human beings ( visualise the Belsen images) are attacking poor eternally threatened eternally victimised Israel (sob) by starving themselves to death.

    The statement is so unbelievably weird and warped that you have to read it a few times to reassure yourself that it is actually being made by a supposedly rational and reasonably educated human being. But then Hitler and the Nazis also supposedly rational and and in the main reasonably educated human beings made similarly twisted and weird claims about the dangers from Jews,Homosexuals,Gypsies etc before embarking on their Final Solution. And that was before they embarked on their Communist Russians killing spree.

    But Zios such as Mr Erdan thanks to the Western Holocaust Guilt say and do what you like blank cheque are so used to spouting the ridiculous that they simply cannot see that they have evolved into a mirror image of 1930`s Fascists.

    To put it bluntly Herr Erdan and the majority of the Jewish Israeli politicians currently in power are brainwashed f…..g morons.

  12. James Canning on April 20, 2017, 1:12 pm

    Many of Israel’s original leaders were anti-British terrorists. Surely Netanyahu has not forgotten this fact.

    • RoHa on April 20, 2017, 7:48 pm

      Ahem! “Freedom fighters” is the term. You ask Netty.

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