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Why won’t the ‘NY Times’ do a profile of Israel’s most notorious general, Ofer Winter?

Media Analysis
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Reporters at the New York Times love to have their stories featured on the front page. In fact, among themselves they dismiss articles that run inside as merely “vitamin page” reports — because the Times labels the pages in its print edition as A6, B3, and so on.

The paper’s Jerusalem bureau has missed another sure-fire chance to get on page A1. Brigadier General Ofer Winter, the Israeli army’s most controversial officer, just got promoted again — but the Times continues to ignore him. Winter’s notoriety is summarized in Haaretz’s characterization: “a Pattonesque holy warrior on the battlefield.” Winter has been well-known since the early 2000s, but one Times reporter after another has somehow failed to write a profile.

Here’s why: one of the ways the Times rigs its coverage of Israel/Palestine is by covering up Israeli extremists, to make Israel seem a much more moderate place than it really is. You will rarely if ever read about the far-right leaders of the West Bank settler/colonists, for example, nor will you learn about the vicious anti-Palestinian racism that is becoming steadily more normalized in Israeli life.

General Ofer Winter’s true views and conduct would trigger shockwaves in America. During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, he sent his unit commanders an apocalyptic letter that told them they were fighting “a blasphemous enemy that defiles the God of Israel.” Winter’s cruel military actions in Gaza were entirely consistent with his messianic words; Haaretz reports that “dozens of innocent [Palestinian] civilians were among the casualties.”

Winter is apparently a charismatic leader. An admiring account in Haaretz quotes another officer as saying that he “radiates lightning.” The officer continued: “When he’s in the company of subordinates, you can feel the electricity in the air; when he enters the discussion room, all eyes are upon him.”

Americans have been exposed to almost none of this. So far, one rare source of information in the U.S. about Ofer Winter is Max Blumenthal’s excellent book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. Blumenthal wrote about Winter in some detail, explaining that he is “a graduate of the Beni David yeshiva in the religious nationalist settlement [colony] of Eli, which has sent at least fifty commissioned officers into the Israeli army.” Blumenthal adds, “The hero of a generation, Winter returned from the battlefield to bask in the adulation of his countrymen.”

Surely the Times could write a report about this important general, who is so representative of what Israel is like today. If Winter won’t cooperate, surely Times reporters can find people who know him who will talk.

There is one somewhat surprising exception to the Times blackout of General Ofer Winter: Thomas Friedman. During Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, Friedman was in the country, and in his August 5 column that year he disapprovingly relayed one of Winter’s hair-raising quotes to his troops: “History has chosen us to spearhead the fighting [against] the terrorist ‘Gazan’ enemy which abuses, blasphemes and curses the God of Israel’s [defense] forces.”

Neither then, nor since, has any Times reporter taken Friedman’s hint and set up an interview with General Ofer Winter. 

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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19 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on July 5, 2019, 1:36 pm

    RE: “Why won’t the ‘NY Times’ do a profile of Israel’s most notorious general, Ofer Winter?”

    MY COMMENT: Richard Silverstein has written several articles on Ofer Winter at his Tikun Olam site.

    SEE: “Col. Ofer Winter: Poster Boy for IDF’s New Dirty 200, Ceasefire Dies (Again)” | by Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | August 7, 2014

    [EXCERPT] After Operation Cast Lead, peace activists prepared a list of 200 IDF officers who played major roles in the sowing the killing fields of Gaza with blood. I’m hoping someone is right now preparing a similar list for Operation Protective Edge. The level of mass mayhem in it far exceeds that of the prior campaign. More dead, more injured, more orphans, more devastation.

    Remember this name in particular: Ofer Winter. He’s the poster boy of IDF war criminals. He was also high on the list of those accused of similar acts during Cast Lead. It was he who wrote the genocidal battle plan announced to his troops in the accompanying image:

    History has chosen for us to be the bayonet point of battle against the Gazan terrorist enemy which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s military campaigns…

    God, the Lord of Israel, make our path successful, as we are about to fight for Your People, Israel, against an enemy who defames your name. In the name of the IDF fighters…make the phrase “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” come true, and we shall answer: Amen.

    Lest you think I overstated the term “genocidal” above, anyone who knows their Bible will recognize this language. It is the language used to describe those tribes which the Israelites wiped out in their campaign to capture the land of Israel and populate it with their offspring. Tribes like the Amalekites, Moabites, Jebusites and others were all exterminated in battles in which the ancient Jews followed what they perceived as God’s will in taking over the land.

    Winter’s Givati brigade played a key role in the slaughter in Rafah in the last week of the war in which 160 Palestinians were killed by vengeful IDF forces seeking vengeance after a Hamas attack that killed an IDF major, sergeant and captured Lt. Hadar Goldin. . .

    CONTINUED AT – http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/08/07/col-ofer-winter-poster-boy-for-idfs-new-dirty-200/

    ALSO SEE:

    “IDF Col. Ofer Winter’s Holy War Against Latter-Day Philistines”
    August 10, 2014 by Richard Silverstein
    https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/08/10/idf-col-ofer-winters-holy-war-against-latter-day-philistines/

    “IDF Col. Ofer Winter: Butcher of Khuza’a”
    August 14, 2014 by Richard Silverstein
    https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/08/14/idf-col-ofer-winter-butcher-of-khuzaa/

    • LiberatePalestine on July 5, 2019, 2:46 pm

      Funny how often criminals justify their contemptible acts by claiming that they’re doing god’s work.

  2. Misterioso on July 6, 2019, 10:59 am

    @LiberatePalestine, et al

    If the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis could rise from their graves, I’m sure they would forthrightly condemn Zionists and “Israel” for their monstrous crimes committed against Palestine’s essentially defenseless indigenous Christian and Muslim Arab inhabitants. As more and more Jews everywhere, especially youth, are now realizing, the horrible irony is overwhelming.

    • Keith on July 6, 2019, 11:51 am

      MISTERIOSO- “If the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis could rise from their graves, I’m sure they would forthrightly condemn Zionists and “Israel”….

      Since the vast majority of the six million were either non-Zionists or anti-Zionists, you are probably correct. I might add that the Zionist Jews had utter contempt for non-Zionist Jews whom they ridiculed.

    • mondonut on July 6, 2019, 12:04 pm

      @Misterioso I’m sure they would forthrightly condemn Zionists and “Israel”

      Here we have Misterioso claiming to speak for the Holocaust victims.

      Bold strategy Cotton…

      • LiberatePalestine on July 6, 2019, 10:10 pm

        The six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis had done nothing wrong; they were merely targeted on racial grounds by rabid, inhuman supremacists. I’d be surprised if a single one would have failed to condemn the Zionists’ parallel crime against the Palestinians.

      • lonely rico on July 8, 2019, 3:50 am

        Here we have Misterioso claiming to speak for the Holocaust victims.

        Hearken “mon donut” to the Polish victims themselves –

        “Before World War II, most Jews were anti-Zionist. To say that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism is to say that Polish Jews, 90 percent of whom died in the war, were anti-Semitic on the basis that – in Warsaw – they voted overwhelmingly during 1938 elections for the anti-Zionist Jewish Bund.
        https://electronicintifada.net/content/lets-be-honest-about-britains-obsession-anti-semitism/27711

    • LiberatePalestine on July 6, 2019, 10:07 pm

      The parallels to the Nazi concepts of the Herrenrasse and Lebensraum are striking. So are the similarities between the murderous methods for achieving the monstrous crimes.

    • wondering jew on July 7, 2019, 10:55 am

      It is admirable for those who see Zionism as a primary evil to disassociate its thoughts from the minds of the murdered millions. But rather than metaphysically speculating an omniscience or a new mindset as a result of experiencing death or this specific form of dying, one instead theoretically polls these people on the day before their murders, many of them would have supported the idea of a Jewish sovereign state located you know where.

      • eljay on July 7, 2019, 3:16 pm

        || wondering jew: It is admirable for those who see Zionism as a primary evil to disassociate its thoughts from the minds of the murdered millions. But rather than metaphysically speculating an omniscience or a new mindset as a result of experiencing death or this specific form of dying, one instead theoretically polls these people on the day before their murders, many of them would have supported the idea of a Jewish sovereign state located you know where. ||

        Which in no way validates Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism any more than a poll of non-Jews before their murders supporting the murder of Jews instead of them validates anti-Semitism.

      • Mooser on July 8, 2019, 12:15 pm

        “one instead theoretically polls these people on the day before their murders”

        “Yonah” , you’re amazing. You could make a yatzman out of a landlubber.
        And nobody, but nobody can trivialize the Holocaust like you.

      • Talkback on July 8, 2019, 6:56 pm

        wondering jew: “,,, one instead theoretically polls these people on the day before their murders, many of them would have supported the idea of a Jewish sovereign state located you know where”

        Do you want to say that they would have supported what Misterioso describes as “monstrous crimes committed against Palestine’s essentially defenseless indigenous Christian and Muslim Arab inhabitant”, too? That was the point of issue and not “the idea of a Jewish sovereign state located you know where”.

      • LiberatePalestine on July 8, 2019, 8:54 pm

        Since the beginning of the Zionist project, it has been obvious that establishing any «Jewish sovereign state» in Palestine required «monstrous crimes committed against Palestine’s essentially defenseless indigenous Christian and Muslim Arab inhabitants». Even Zionists have freely admitted that.

        Thus the attempt above to separate the Zionist project from the monstrous crimes that it necessarily entailed is doomed to failure.

      • Talkback on July 8, 2019, 10:31 pm

        LiberatePalestine: “Thus the attempt above to separate the Zionist project from the monstrous crimes that it necessarily entailed is doomed to failure.”

        The self described “liberal” Zionists try so hard to justify what the settler entitiy did between 1948 and 1967 allthough they don’t want to justify the same thereafter. “Liberal” means that they don’t feel obliged to restrict themselves to a self-consistent sense of morality.

  3. genesto on July 6, 2019, 7:30 pm

    I remember Col. Ofer excruciatingly well from Blumenthal’s book. His religious extremism stood out vividly and gave me chills. The fact that this monster not only got a pass on all of his frightening words and actions but now has been rewarded for it convinces me even more that the evil that is Zionism is fast rotting away.

  4. Elisabeth on July 13, 2019, 8:47 am

    The NYT censors comments on Israel. They often delay publishing comments that are critical of Israel until just before the comments section closes, reducing their visibility. Or a comment initially gets accepted and then suddenly “is not available for viewing right now”. Or comments will mysteriously disappear without any notice if many other commenters express outrage at what you have written. Questions about the process receive no answer.

    • Talkback on July 14, 2019, 7:52 am

      The NYT is complicit in the settler’s state genocidal policy. Its publishers and censors have sold their soul to the devil a long time ago.

  5. DaBakr on July 15, 2019, 3:06 am

    The NYT won’t do a ‘story’ on the general because he is not only effective at his job he is far too complex to fit into the times narrative. Winter proves that not all glorified idf generals are political blowhards

    • Talkback on July 15, 2019, 9:04 am

      DaBakr: “The NYT won’t do a ‘story’ on the general because he is not only effective at his job he is far too complex to fit into the times narrative.”

      Yeah, this low life war criminal kills civilians and destroys civilian buildings very effectively, but neither is he a Nazi nor is his “the-enemy-is-less-than-human” racism secular. That’s to complex for the times.

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