But then in a classic instance of shilling for Israel, the Times buries a vital piece of information — that Palestinians comprise 21 percent of the Israeli population. The paper waited until the 13th paragraph to disclose that figure, well off the front page.
Opponents say the law will inevitably harm the fragile balance between the country’s Jewish majority and Arab minority, which makes up about 21 percent of a population of nearly nine million.
That would seem to be information that a reader needs in the second or third paragraph. How many people are injured by this law? But no — in a classic Times move, the newspaper of record does what it can to ignore/brush aside the one-fifth of the population that is not Jewish. Maybe it’s an unconscious effort by reporters David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, but it does the trick: minimizes the bad news.
The larger issue the law raises for liberal Zionists is, What’s the distinction now between the occupation and Israel? Liberal Zionists have always said that we don’t like discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel, and we fight that discrimination, but it’s not as bad as occupation. Palestinians in Israel have opportunities. They are discriminated against in various laws and practices, but they don’t have the difficulties of people in the West Bank, who have no rights at all.
On this basis, liberal Zionists, including Peace Now and Peter Beinart, have called for boycott of goods produced in settlements/colonies, but not to the west of of the Green Line (the ’49-’67 border).
Their argument just got a lot harder. Israel is officially now an apartheid state. Only one people have the right of self determination. The prime minister says the state of Israel exists for Jews. “This is our state — the Jewish state . . . Today we made it law: This is our nation, language and flag.”
New York Times readers hear what he’s saying, loud and clear. Almost all the comments selected by readers as important are from people who want to wash their hands of apartheid and theocracy. “It’s time Israel has to go it alone. I am disgusted that a people who were once the subject of persecution worldwide could so easily turn around to become the persecutor. Enough,” writes D. Murphy from Worcester, MA.
It seems to us that liberal Zionists will need to put real pressure on Israel, and say, We don’t just want the occupation over. We want this law and other discriminatory laws reversed. That means boycotting the state of Israel for officially and legally discriminating against non-Jewish citizens. Which is something the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has always said in its program, for 13 years. Indeed, BDS is vindicated once again by this law, for having its eyes on the prize.
We believe many decent liberal Zionists, such as Beinart, are going to have to do some soul searching right now. Some will rise to the occasion, some won’t. Beinart surely will.
H/T to Maghlawatan, a Mondoweiss commenter