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Subscribe to ‘Haaretz,’ the Israeli paper that is more courageous and more accurate than the ‘New York Times’

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Edward Said, the late Palestinian/American scholar and activist, once described a first-hand experience that showed the gulf between Haaretz, the brave Israeli newspaper, and the mainstream American press. Said related how a Haaretz writer conducted an interview with him, during which “I expressed myself candidly,” and the paper then published his views at length, “just as I voiced them, without the slightest editorializing.” He noted that the same interview could never have appeared “in any American newspaper, let alone any Jewish-American journal.”

Anyone who approaches Israel/Palestine and starts reading Haaretz (“The Land”) will be struck immediately by the truth of Said’s experience. His insight is further substantiated when you learn that the Haaretz interviewer who treated him fairly was Ari Shavit, the celebrated liberal Zionist who is hardly a left-winger. (Said’s view is included in The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid [2001], a still valuable collection edited by Roane Carey.) Haaretz’s English edition, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, is an indispensable look at truths about Israel/Palestine that the New York Times and Washington Post often cover up.

Haaretz has regular coverage by Amira Hass, the courageous daughter of Holocaust survivors who has spent several decades reporting from Gaza and the occupied West Bank of Palestine; she wrote Drinking the Sea at Gaza after spending years in the beleaguered territory, probably the only Jewish Israeli who actually lived there. The paper also carries biting articles and opinions by Gideon Levy, who was once in the mainstream of Israeli politics but then woke up after he started reporting on the occupation:

I would see settlers cutting down olive trees and soldiers mistreating Palestinian women at the checkpoints, and I would think, ‘These are exceptions, not part of government policy.’ It took me a long time to see that these were not exceptions — they were the substance of government policy. I had failed to make that connection.

Larry Derfner, who broke with liberal Zionist orthodoxy in his 50s, is also a Haaretz contributor. Derfner has been active lately in reporting and condemning the infatuation for Donald Trump expressed by Benjamin Netanyahu, and many other Israelis.

Not all who write for Haaretz are as outspoken as these three. But the rest of the newspaper is still characterized by exactly what Edward Said had appreciated — a willingness to squarely face Israel/Palestine as it is today, instead of censoring out the dark truths of the rise of the Israeli far right and the ugly ongoing reality of occupation.

Haaretz has certainly suffered for its independence. In a recent letter to subscribers, the publisher, Amos Schocken, pointed out,

One of the charges most often leveled against the voices of opposition in Israel is that they ‘air the country’s dirty laundry’ in public — and in English. They are told that to do so is treasonous and feeds the monster of anti-Semitism.

Haaretz is struggling in a fiercely competitive media landscape. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire far right American gambling magnate, started a free throwaway paper in 2007 called Israel Hayom (“Israel Today”), mostly as a mouthpiece for Benjamin Netanyahu; the paper has lost several hundred million but is the largest single publication in the country, with 40 percent of the market.

This past May, the New York Times did pay Haaretz a high compliment, if indirectly and unwittingly. The Times’s Op-Ed page commissioned a hatchet job by an Israeli journalist, Shmuel Rosner, which argued that “Israel’s premier left-wing paper seems to have lost its grip on reality.” Rosner’s silly article boiled down to: (Jewish) Israelis are moving to the far right en masse; rightists hate Haaretz; therefore Haaretz is wrong and irrelevant. Instead of wasting space on Rosner, Times editors (and reporters) might ask themselves why their own publication is so cowardly that it hardly ever prints the kind of articles that you will find in Haaretz several times a day.

Haaretz is struggling along financially, and a few years back it unfortunately but understandably had to install a paywall. Americans should be able to rely on our own national newspapers to learn about Israel/Palestine. But we can’t.

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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13 Responses

  1. JosephA on October 24, 2017, 10:55 am

    Hi James,

    This makes me want to sign up for a Haaretz subscription! Thanks for sharing.

    • eljay on October 24, 2017, 12:09 pm

      || JosephA: … This makes me want to sign up for a Haaretz subscription! Thanks for sharing. ||


  2. DCM on October 24, 2017, 3:29 pm

    Already do, 2yrs now. Great, great newspaper . Warning, will probably make you upset about our scared mainstream media coverage of all things Israel.

  3. amigo on October 24, 2017, 4:10 pm

    damn now I am feeling guilty for always accessing free of charge by using the Google Cache link.

    I will seriously consider doing the right thing. It,s demise would harm the Palestinian cause , so will pay from now on.

  4. DaBakr on October 25, 2017, 12:01 am

    It’s still making money for a Zionist, albeit a very left wing zionist company. And it really needs all the foreign support it can get as it’s been struggling for readership a long time and is tanking not ascending in popularity in the general population. I guess nobody here thinks it’s funny that this “brave” little newspaper prints only the most anti Zionist often anti israel views of any newspaper not an outright jew hating blog or official hate site like MW. I read it too but only with the pay wall. They give me 90% of their content free so I have to suffer for not reading levy or hass hate screeds until a few days after pub.

    • Misterioso on October 25, 2017, 10:12 am


      For your reading pleasure:

      Haaretz  – Oct 23, 2017

      “In America, Self-declared Nazis Can Get State Aid. Israel Boycotters Increasingly Can’t”

      “Our community’s obsession with stopping the BDS boogeyman has gone off the rails, and this is a taste of what’s to come, if people of conscience don’t stand up to this madness.”

      By Simone Zimmerman  

      • DaBakr on October 25, 2017, 6:57 pm

        The anti-bds frenzy in the US is a curious thing. I can’t discern wether it’s a general statement of support and love for Israel from average everyday American communities or if it’s a reaction to the inroads the extreme far left has made into sectors of American society. Sort of the: if we give them an inch they’ll take a mile defense. Whatever the reasons are it does not seem to be occupying a big place in the American conscience. Its only controversial and outrageous to those already in the hate-israel, hate-zionist camp.

        . And I assume by “aid” the quote is referring to the Texas county that supposedly has an anti bds clause. That residents are being deprived of any aid, local, state or federal has been completely discredited as having no truth to it at all.
        As for “self declared nazis” and aid,? I really haven’t a clue. I noticed the US press has been fixated on Richard Spencer and neo nazis since Charlottesville and they are still pathetically trying to connect the msm’s new P.T. Barnum….. one Steve Bannon to neo nazis in some way other then his editing breitbart and not censoring the smooth nazi scums controversial views.,*

        * I’ll bet a dollar that in the next few years spencer will undergo some public spectacle of repentance and changing his ways. He loves the cameras too much and reeks of fraudster. Just what the Nazis need, another false prophet that turns out to be queer, Jewish and to have a heart in the first place. Lol

    • Mooser on October 25, 2017, 12:59 pm

      Ah “Dabakr”, always perfectly poised between a threat and a whine, but never quite settling into either. The art of the mutter.

  5. Vera Gottlieb on October 25, 2017, 10:38 am

    I would sign up but I just don’t feel like having to pay.

  6. Lewis Elbinger on October 25, 2017, 11:19 am

    I subscribe because Haaretz expresses the consciousness that can lead to a just peace. Not just peace, but a just peace, one that will last and grow and nourish us all.

    • Mooser on October 25, 2017, 12:16 pm

      ” Not just peace, but a just peace, one that will last and grow and nourish us all.”

      Don’t get discouraged, it won’t be long. Plans to double the land area and resources of Palestine will become a reality soon.

    • aloeste on October 26, 2017, 8:54 pm

      you realize of course that Haaretz represents the sizable 10% of Israel that supports the mondoweiss agenda….it’s mainly the tool of the overseas jewhaters…

      • Mooser on October 27, 2017, 2:17 pm

        ” the sizable 10% of Israel that supports the mondoweiss agenda”

        There may yet be some hope for the place!

        “….it’s (Haaretz) mainly the tool of the overseas jewhaters…”

        Yup, I hit it on the head, not to toot my own hammer. Zionists have this strange idea that the arguments they use to convince each other will work on everybody else, especially if stated more emphatically with accusations about “”overseas jewhaters”.

        This is a deficiency they really should correct…

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