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Foer and Lepore cut Netanyahu a break. Brooks doesn’t

Media Analysis
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Franklin Foer has a report on Hungarian PM Victor Orban in the Atlantic. Last week NPR interviewed him about the authoritarian leader’s kinship to Donald Trump.

Ari Shapiro of NPR: Ambassador [David] Cornstein told you Trump – and this is a quote – “would love to have the situation that Viktor Orban has, but he doesn’t.” What does that mean?

Foer: So, you know, we do constantly look to the autocratic, illiberal leaders in places like Brazil or Hungary or Russia. And we try to see similarities between Trump and these leaders. And we ask ourselves constantly, is he one of them? Are we projecting Trump onto them or projecting them onto Trump? And so to have one of his old friends – to have a United States diplomat say explicitly that Donald Trump wishes he could be an authoritarian leader, it’s quite a chilling thing to hear.

Gosh, anyone missing from that list?

Last night on PBS’s News Hour, NYT columnist David Brooks observed the craftiness in Donald Trump’s attack on Nancy Pelosi’s mental health (which Brooks deplored):

I think it’s politically the right move for him. If you look around the world, what’s rising is hostility to elites? Modi gets elected. Australia, Brexit, Netanyahu, it’s just all over the world. And you can win, you can be forgiven a lot of sins, if you oppose coastal elites in our country, urban elites. And he’s riding that train.

One of our complaints is that the US media do damage control for the intolerant rightwing trends in Israeli political culture, have for a long time (to give us “dreamcastle Israel,” as Max Blumenthal put it). Of course there’s a tendency to blame Netanyahu for the inherent intolerance of Israeli government. But at least Brooks is pointing at Netanyahu. While Foer ignores the obvious parallel. And both these writers have been big Israel supporters. Brooks would surely flub “Jim Crow,” “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.”

Update. Jill Lepore makes the same omission in a Sunday New York Times op-ed in defense of liberal democracy against illiberal nationalists.

At the end of the Cold War, it appeared to some globalists that nationalism had died, but their error can be witnessed every day in the rule of Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. Nationalism has shaken Britain. It has all but unhinged the United States.

The omission is especially glaring there not just because Jewish nationalism produced a nation state law in Israel that derogates Palestinian citizenship less than a year ago, and reelection with promises of annexation of more Palestinian land; but Israeli nationalism belongs to the U.S./has helped to unhinge the U.S. Trump is doing everything Netanyahu wants from him. But you shouldn’t say so.

h/t Donald Johnson.

Philip Weiss

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

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5 Responses

  1. RoHa on May 26, 2019, 2:47 am

    Franklin Foer?

  2. Misterioso on May 27, 2019, 8:22 am

    For the record re Netanyahu:

    “Full text of the criminal allegations against Netanyahu set out by Israel’s A.G.” Times of Israel, May 16/18

  3. Mooser on May 27, 2019, 1:01 pm

    Another beaut from the Times:

    “The Old Scourge of Anti-Semitism Rises Anew in Europe”

    “the alarming reality that anti-Semitism is sharply on the rise, often from the sadly familiar direction of the far right, but also from Islamists and the far left.”

    Of course, the can’t come up with any “far left” examples, and I don’t think the “far left” makes anti-semitism part of their platform.

    • eljay on May 27, 2019, 1:48 pm

      || Mooser: … “the alarming reality that anti-Semitism is sharply on the rise, often from the sadly familiar direction of the far right, but also from Islamists and the far left.” … ||

      The saddest direction whence anti-Semitism emerges is Zionists and Israel. But as far as I can tell they’ve been deliberately and anti-Semitically…
      – conflating Zionism and Israel with all Jews; and
      – advocating, committing, justifying and/or defending (war) crimes in the name of all Jews,
      …at a reliably-steady pace.

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