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‘Israel has no choice’ — ‘NY Times’ columnists largely line up behind Gaza massacre

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From the beginnings of the massacre in Gaza we have insisted that Israel’s actions have changed American opinion, and alienated people who were once supportive of Israel. “A frankly unconscionable use of force,” Chris Hayes said, while David Rothkopf called the slaughter the anti-Passover: “A supposedly Jewish state violating the most basic concepts of the religion in order to defend its ‘right to exist.’”

Now Eric Alterman in The Nation bluntly states that Israel used to be “a source of pride and admiration” for liberal Jews, but “today brings only shame and sadness.”

The longtime liberal Zionist acknowledges the weight of this moment. The killings are “appalling,” Alterman says; and together with Israel’s 70th anniversary and the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem give “every indication of being a turning point.”

His piece is important because he points out that Israel’s defenders are hard at work: “the punditocracy remains filled with those who do not merely excuse Israel’s use of excessive force but actively praise it.”

This is particularly true of the New York Times op-ed page, which, aside from Michelle Goldberg’s laments for the fate of liberal Zionism, is dominated by apologists for the Netanyahu government. Shmuel Rosner is one of a dwindling number who see their role as defending Israel to liberal Jews. He authored a Times op-ed that was headlined with a phrase that ought to shock defenders of Israel: “Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Whatever Means Necessary.” In the piece, Rosner argues, “Guarding the border was more important than avoiding killing, and guarding the border is what Israel did successfully.” Rosner even tried to justify the use of live bullets. We so often hear that Israel is a technocratic marvel, but is murder by sniper really the best method of border control it can come up with?

No doubt the most prominent member of the “Israel is always right” brigade is the Times’ Bret Stephens, formerly of the Journal, where he was known to complain of the “disease of the Arab mind.” In his latest column on Gaza, Stephens can’t even write the word “occupation” without derisive quotation marks. He whines, Trumplike, “Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?”

This, of course, is transference of the first order. As the pro-Israel (and mostly conservative) Economist observed in a lead editorial, “Gaza is a prison, not a state…one of the most crowded and miserable places on Earth. It is short of medicine, power and other essentials.

Let me fill in the picture. Michelle Goldberg was very good. She called the killings a “massacre” that was condemned by the world, and described the two-state solution as a figleaf for apartheid:

But even if you completely dismiss the Palestinian right of return — which I find harder to do now that Israel’s leadership has all but abandoned the possibility of a Palestinian state — it hardly excuses the Israeli military’s disproportionate violence…

A rising generation of Americans may see an apartheid state with a Trump Square in its capital and wonder why it’s supposed to be our friend.

A Times editorial also faulted Israel’s actions, after a sniper killed journalist Yaser Murtaja. But the criticism was indirect. The right of people to demonstrate peacefully

should not be controversial. But ordinary Palestinians have few defenders, and much of the world has been shockingly mute about what’s happening in Gaza.

That’s about it. Rosner’s piece actually said that the Palestinians were being shot for their own good, so as to end their illusions about returning to their land: “I believe Israel’s current policy toward Gaza ultimately benefits not only Israel but also the Palestinians.”

Bari Weiss, the outspoken opinion editor, has echoed Israeli talking points about Hamas and terror. Showing complete indifference to the human toll, Weiss wrote that 50 of 60 killed on May 14 “were Hamas.” And she said the negative headlines are just what Hamas was looking for: “The press coverage was a major success in a war whose battlefield isn’t really Gaza, but the brains of foreign audiences.”

Tough Tom Friedman of course is also a defender of Israel’s actions. He wrote:

“I get why Israel has no choice but to defend its border with Gaza with brute force.”

Friedman says Palestinian refugees need to move on.

Why should they pay with their ancestral homes for Jewish refugees who lost theirs in Germany or Iraq? The only answer is that history is full of such injustices and of refugees who have reconciled with them and moved on — not passed on their refugee status to their kids and their kids’ kids. It’s why so few Arabs, so few Europeans, so few anybody, rose to Hamas’s defense. People are fed up with it.

Roger Cohen was critical to a point. He called the shootings indefensible and “stomach turning” and said that “When snipers shoot to kill civilians approaching a wall,” it is reminiscent of Eastern Europe. But Cohen tempered that condemnation by saying that the killings are what Hamas sought: “Israel haters, and Jew haters, have a field day.”

He all but equated the killings with the insistence of Palestinians on the right of return, which he also labels “stomach turning,” because it would supposedly push Jews into the sea. As Friedman did, Cohen told Palestinians to move on from “fantasies” about Israel’s land.

Half the territory is now less than a quarter in any imaginable deal. I don’t see why that trend would be reversed absent creative, unified and pragmatic Palestinian leadership focused on a two-state future: laptops for kids rather than keys to lost olive groves.

Conservative David Brooks sounded liberal themes in this thumbsucker. He called the Nakba a “historic wrong,” and went on to fault Israel’s response to the demonstrations: “There was plenty of time to figure out how to handle the crowds without bloodshed.” But the thrust of his column was blaming Hamas’s “extremism”: the group incited “a massive border invasion.” In the end, both sides are responsible, but Israel is “soiled.”

I may be missing some opinions, but I’m surprised. I thought Times opinion writers would seek to reflect this moment in some of its horror. But no, at a time of moral reckoning, the stable of New York Times has been strongly on Israel’s side, excepting Goldberg. That’s what you get when you hire only pro-Israel columnists, several with an ideological commitment to Zionism. Many readers are turning the page.

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About Philip Weiss

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

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31 Responses

  1. ckg
    ckg
    June 7, 2018, 3:09 pm

    I confess that it is comforting to see Alterman in distress. His attacks on Max Blumenthal and the “BDS mob” crossed a line.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      June 7, 2018, 6:58 pm

      The Alterman thing crossed that line the very day he learned to write his alphabet letters.

      He is no different than our Yonahs and Mayhems and Nathans and John S. In fact, politically speaking he has no difference from John S. I would say let the management invite Alterman as a punching ball (provided said management has any intention to stop censoring anti-Zionist postings, that is.)

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      June 8, 2018, 10:36 am

      What Thomas Friedman was really saying:

      “’I get why Israel has no choice but to defend its border with Gaza with brute force. [If I don’t say so, I could lose my job.]’”

  2. Keith
    Keith
    June 7, 2018, 4:32 pm

    PHIL- (Bari Weiss quote)- “The press coverage was a major success in a war whose battlefield isn’t really Gaza, but the brains of foreign audiences.”

    It is surely relevant that Israel is an integral part of empire which is at war with the entire Third World. When they talked about the “Long War” they weren’t joking. As such, the media falls in line defending imperial aggression. Yes, the siege of Gaza is an imperial siege, the violence imperial violence. We are at the end of the industrial/consumerist era of capitalism, and empire is restructuring the global political economy via neoliberal globalization. All obstacles to these plans are under attack. The empire isn’t going to compromise or take prisoners of those it can kill. Things are bad and going to get worse. Hegemony or death. And should we escape nuclear war, environmental collapse looms. The New York Times is the official paper of Israel and empire and we are receiving war-time propaganda. Expect nothing else. And speaking of news going under-reported, Yemen is undergoing mass-murder by starvation, with imperial approval and complicity.

    “Mark Lowcock, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, expressed his concern regarding the “recent decline of commercial food imports through the Red Sea ports” — adding that, if conditions do not improve, the number of Yemenis at the brink of starvation would rise from the current figure of 8.4 million to 18.4 million by this December. Given that there are approximately 28 million people in Yemen, a continuation of the Saudi-led blockade would mean that nearly two-thirds of the entire country’s population will soon face starvation.” (Whitney Webb) https://www.marchonpentagon.com/single-post/2018/06/01/UN-Warns-10-Million-Yemenis-Expected-to-Starve

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      June 11, 2018, 6:23 am

      Keith: [quoting Whitney Webb:] …the UN’s emergency relief coordinator […] add[ed] that, if conditions do not improve,the number of Yemenis at the brink of starvation would rise from the current figure of 8.4 million to 18.4 million by this December. “

      —————————————-

      18.4 million facing death by starvation! Where’s the response to this impending genocide?

      More info:

      Anglo-American Media Complicity in Yemen’s Genocide

      NW Yemen has been blockaded for years now. And the Saudi strategy is working well. Yemen has had up to a million cases of cholera, an illness unheard of in countries with modern antibiotics. Untreated cholera is fatal in about half of all cases (versus 1% when normal treatment is available). Since medical supplies are being blockaded (with the help of the US Navy), and few journalists have made much effort to find out what has been going on in the blockaded areas, we may be dealing with an unreported death toll of half a million people, most of them children.

      Yemen is a perfect target for artificial famine and blockade, because it never had enough farmland to feed its people. Before the Saudi invasion, Yemen imported almost 90% of its food supplies. When the Saudis imposed their blockade, cutting off all food imports to Hodeidah, the one Red-Sea port serving NW Yemen, those imports stopped. There has never been any alternative route for food supplies to Yemen. Even before the war, road traffic between Saudi and Yemenwas all but shut down.

      * * *
      […]When the Shia fighters pull out — or even if they stay and make a last stand in the rubble of Hodeidah — the blockade will be airtight. From then on, it’s just a matter of waiting for the blockaded population to die off in such numbers that they lose the will to fight.

      * * *
      […]It’s happened before. It’s how the Nigerian Army crushed the Igbo in Biafra in the 1960s. The Biafrans won on the battlefield, but the Nigerian Army was as well-connected, world-wide, as it was cowardly and corrupt. So it laid out big money to its foreign friends and got a very cooperative silence while it starved Biafra to death.

      That huge international silence had a lot to do with oil and money, just as this one does. When oil, money, and a huge international alliance all line up with the people starving out a troublesome minority, you can expect a complete media blackout on news about those who are dying.

      http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-anglo-american-media-complicity-in-yemens-genocide/

      See also:

      Yemen – The Attack On Hodeidah Is A Prelude To Genocide

      http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/06/yemen-the-attack-on-hodeidah-is-a-prelude-to-genocide.html

      • Keith
        Keith
        June 11, 2018, 3:30 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “18.4 million facing death by starvation! Where’s the response to this impending genocide?”

        The empire is on a rampage and mass-murder is being normalized. We are at the end of the hydrocarbon era, a neofeudal rentier economy on the horizon. We are facing an ecological/ agricultural meltdown, and we have an unsustainably large population. There are a lot of people that have got to be eliminated. Created famines are a cost effective way of eliminating people. We are on the threshold of truly dark times, the architects of policy psychopaths.

        “If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” (Richard Perle) https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/richard_perle_183952i

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      June 13, 2018, 5:41 am

      What about Yemen?

      Saudi-backed forces begin assault on Hudaydah port

      The port is the main point of entry for aid for people in rebel-held areas and agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if it is attacked.

      About eight million people in the war-torn country are at risk of starvation.

      Bombing started after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ignored a deadline set by the government to withdraw by midnight (21:00 GMT on Tuesday).

      […]The conflict has created the world’s largest food emergency.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44463749

      • Keith
        Keith
        June 13, 2018, 6:46 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “What about Yemen?”

        The empire is going to bomb them, starve them and use de facto germ warfare to kill as many as possible.

        “A military coalition formally led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and supported by the United States and Britain, bombed a newly constructed cholera treatment in Yemen on Monday, June 11.

        This attack comes after Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, suffered through the worst cholera outbreak in recorded history, with more than 1 million cases reported in 2017 alone.

        The cholera treatment center was operated by the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (known in French as Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF). It was located in Yemen’s northwestern Hajjah Governorate, an area that has been heavily bombarded by Saudi Arabia for more than 3 years.

        MSF said in a statement that the cholera treatment center had markings on the roof that clearly identified it as a healthcare facility. It added that the center has been destroyed and is now completely non-functional.” (Ben Norton) https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-backed-coalition-bombs-yemens-new-cholera-treatment-center-after-unleashing-worlds-largest-outbreak/5644018

  3. Kay24
    Kay24
    June 7, 2018, 4:39 pm

    I have heard Bari Weiss speak about this a couple of times, and she had the most disgusting sympathy for the snipers, and blamed it all on Hamas. She pretends she is neutral, but her unwavering support for the killers always wins over.
    Shame on the New York Times, for being the mouthpiece for the zionists. Did I miss it or did Bret Stephens, whose son served in the IDF, join the zionist journalists in the NYT on this shameful justification for this massacre?

    • annie
      annie
      June 7, 2018, 4:54 pm

      kay, you missed it. citing alterman:

      No doubt the most prominent member of the “Israel is always right” brigade is the Times’ Bret Stephens, formerly of the Journal, where he was known to complain of the “disease of the Arab mind.” In his latest column on Gaza, Stephens can’t even write the word “occupation” without derisive quotation marks. He whines, Trumplike, “Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?”

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        June 8, 2018, 5:55 am

        Thanks Annie. I certainly missed it. :))

  4. annie
    annie
    June 7, 2018, 4:45 pm

    speaking of the friedman and bari weiss’s “hamas” bs, our very own rawan yaghi chewed them a new you know what in a recent video bernie sanders but on his FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/senatorsanders/videos/10157057267097908/

    and here’s the youtube video, especially after the 4:30 mark:

  5. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    June 7, 2018, 4:54 pm

    RE: No doubt the most prominent member of the “Israel is always right” brigade is the Times’ Bret Stephens, formerly of the Journal, where he was known to complain of the “disease of the Arab mind.” In his latest column on Gaza, Stephens can’t even write the word “occupation” without derisive quotation marks. He whines, Trumplike, “Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?” ~ Eric Alterman

    MY QUERY: Might Bret Stephens’ whining be cited by some as a symptom of “the disease of the Arab Israeli, and/or Jewish and/or human mind”?
    Enquiring mimes want to know!

    Not to mention the disease that is symptomatic of so-called “enquiring mimes”?
    Please, let’s just not go there.

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      June 7, 2018, 5:04 pm

      RE: Rosner’s piece actually said that the Palestinians were being shot for their own good, so as to end their illusions about returning to their land: “I believe Israel’s current policy toward Gaza ultimately benefits not only Israel but also the Palestinians.”

      The Handmaid’s Tale || June and Aunt Lydia talk|| Season 2 Episode 4

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        June 7, 2018, 5:29 pm

        P.S. FOR FANS OF SAM SEDER’S ‘MAJORITY REPORT’ (OFF TOPIC):

        ▣ La Poupée qui fait non – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Poup%C3%A9e_qui_fait_non
        MAJORITY REPORT – https://majorityreportradio.com/

      • annie
        annie
        June 7, 2018, 6:03 pm

        dickerson, perfect, i had to borrow that handmaid’s tale for a tweet. hope that’s ok!

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        June 7, 2018, 6:18 pm

        ▣ Synesthesia
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.[3][4][5][6] People who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as synesthetes. . .
        SOURCE – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        June 7, 2018, 8:40 pm

        THE TOPO GIGIO PINOT GRIGIO TALKIN’:
        Paul van Dyk is an absolute legend. He has been one of the most consistent producers in trance since the 90’s and has always managed to maintain a unique sound. Here is a mix of some of his best works to date.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        June 7, 2018, 10:19 pm

        Rosner reminds me of the Nazi propaganda videos about Theresienstadt

        https://youtu.be/TmIPNktUeoI

        Aunt Lydia reminds me of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        June 8, 2018, 2:23 am

        RE: “Rosner reminds me of the Nazi propaganda videos about Theresienstadt / Aunt Lydia reminds me of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland” ~ Maghlawatan

        My Exclamation: OUCH!

  6. Boomer
    Boomer
    June 7, 2018, 6:54 pm

    re “shooting Palestinians for their own good.”

    That’s some “tough love.” Back in the day when corporal punishment of children was routine, it was widely regarded as a necessary duty of parents and teachers. It was common enough for the authority figure to advise the culprit that a spanking was “for their own good.” But shooting someone for their own good . . . that’s a whole new level.

    Why am I not convinced?

  7. June 7, 2018, 9:53 pm

    Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss now the darlings of the psuedo left often gracing shows like Real Time with Bill Maher. Clean cut, well dressed, articulate vile racists ready to save the world from the diseased Arab mind one bullet at a time.

    I only hope there’s a special place in … for their kind.

  8. JWalters
    JWalters
    June 8, 2018, 3:10 am

    “But even if you completely dismiss the Palestinian right of return “

    consigning the Palestinians to an inferior status, beneath your own status, in which it is moral for you to slaughter and rob masses of innocent people,

    it seems they will never agree with your arrogant assumptions.

    And it’s not just the Palestinians who are being pushed around.

  9. RoHa
    RoHa
    June 8, 2018, 3:12 am

    “I thought Times opinion writers would seek to reflect this moment in some of its horror. ”

    Sometimes I wonder whether Phil lives in the same world as the rest of us.

  10. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    June 8, 2018, 8:12 am

    The NYT prides itself on its progressive stances against wrong. It was Abolitionist during the Civil War. It was anti Nazi in the 40s. It was anti Tammany Hall in the 50s.It was pro Civil Rights in the 60s.

    It is pro apartheid today. WTF.

  11. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    June 8, 2018, 10:45 am

    There is, for all the sneering at the Palestinians, quite a lot here for the likes of us to work on. If the Nakba was a historic wrong whose effect continues then in the end something must be done by the heirs of the wrongdoers to put it right. Sometime the prevarication has to end. I say this with little hope that it will end quickly.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      June 8, 2018, 11:53 pm

      Hughes,

      If the Nakba was a historic wrong whose effect continues then in the end something must be done by the heirs of the wrongdoers to put it right. Sometime the prevarication has to end

      Considering the 100 years of history and the well-known response of said heirs, I’d correct that statement to: “then in the end something must be done to the heirs of the wrongdoers to put it right.”

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        June 9, 2018, 4:47 pm

        Both are true, I think. Let’s wound their consciences.

  12. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    June 8, 2018, 11:18 am

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180607-report-kushner-reproached-kuwait-over-pro-palestinian-proposal-at-unsc/

    “Report: Kushner reproached Kuwait over pro-Palestinian proposal at UNSC”

    Middle East Monitor, June 7/18

    “US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner has had ‘a very brief and stormy meeting’ with Kuwait Ambassador to America, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Sabah, during which he conveyed the US administration’s annoyance with Kuwait’s position at the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories’, Al-Rai newspaper reported informed US sources as saying.

    “The newspaper reported yesterday that Kushner reproached Sheikh Salem saying: ‘The Kuwaiti behaviour at the UN Security Council has embarrassed him personally in front of US administration officials as well as allied US countries which support our efforts to resolve the crisis.’

    “According to the source, Kushner revealed during his meeting with the Kuwaiti ambassador that ‘he was working with Saudi Arabia and Egypt on a joint Arab-American statement on the situation in Gaza’, adding that he did not know that Kuwait holds a different opinion to the Arab consensus, although it claims to represent the Arab bloc at the UN Security Council.
    Last week Kuwait submitted a draft resolution at the UNSC demanding an international mission be set up to protect Palestinian civilians. The US used its power of veto to quash the plan.”

  13. mgduke
    mgduke
    June 8, 2018, 10:33 pm

    The smug, bloodthirsty viciousness of Tom Friedman, Bari Weiss, Bret Stephens, and Shmuel Rosner disgusts every moral human being. These ghouls are today’s version of Goebbels and Streicher.

  14. JLWarner
    JLWarner
    June 9, 2018, 5:10 pm

    It is not to defend Tom Friedman that I point out your take on his piece is distorted. No doubt that Friedman is pushing the Palestinians to make a deal now and not fight for lost land. But you don’t seem to note that Friedman harshly criticizes Israel, especially for not making concessions now to make a deal.

    The problem I see with how you structured your piece is that you are making an enemy of a potential partner.

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