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Haaretz editor: ‘for the Palestinians murder is a type of sport, perhaps a substitute for erotica’

Media Analysis
on 15 Comments

This is what the editor of Haaretz’s Culture and Literature supplement, Benny Ziffer, wrote on his Facebook page upon returning from paying a condolence call in the settlement of Ofra:

“En route I looked at the Palestinian villages alongside the Jewish communities, and I thought of how for the Palestinians murder is a type of sport or enjoyment, perhaps a substitute for erotica. From that perspective we will never have anything culturally in common with them.”

And if that weren’t enough, Ziffer also wrote, “Regarding this evil and undignified people living among us, we can only yearn for the land to vomit it out, because it isn’t worthy of this land, which is full of Jewish blood that it has spilled.”

Now, let’s leave alone for a moment the fact that much more Palestinian blood was spilled in this land than Jewish blood in any given year since Zionism came to power in Palestine about 100 years ago. Gideon Levy’s article in Haaretz elaborated on that fallacy in Ziffer’s post, stating that If There’s Such a Thing as a Murderous Culture, Then It Exists in Israel.

I would like to focus on the de-humanisation of an ethnic group sharing the land with the occupying settler group that Ziffer belongs to. As he described in his post, he looked at Palestinian villages and Jewish settlements as he drove through an apartheid road in the West Bank. The difference between the big villas with the red roofs of the settlements on one hand, and the simplicity of the Palestinian village homes on the other hand (I believe he didn’t manage to see the refugee camps, only West Bank villages) is indeed striking. Obviously, it’s a consequence of the Israeli apartheid regime that heavily supports the colonial settlements and heavily oppresses the indigenous people. And that made him think about “how the Palestinians murder is a type of sport or enjoyment, perhaps a substitute for erotica”. He’s got an erotic mind, that’s for sure, but that sickening thought reveals vicious propaganda. This statement of his is the kind of message you would encounter in earlier times colonialist campaigns in Africa and America that led to genocide of the indigenous people.

The next statement is not less striking, as it actually calls for genocide or ethnic cleansing: “Regarding this evil and undignified people living among us, we can only yearn for the land to vomit it out, because it isn’t worthy of this land”. As we know from the past 100 years of history in Palestine, Zionists are big believers in the execution and fulfillment of their aspirations, making things happen rather than yearning. Yearning is what the Jews did during 2,000 years of exile, in the Zionist era dreams are meant to come true, through proactive actions. Zionists know very well that the land won’t vomit the Palestinian people out alone, someone has to give a hand.

In fact, ethnic cleansing of Palestine is taking place on a daily basis, slowly but surely. Israel expropriates Palestinian lands, destroys their “illegal” homes, confiscates their water springs, set their fields on fire, cuts their olive trees and grape vines, humiliates them and makes their lives unbearable. These operations are executed in cooperation of the armed forces and the paramilitary settler gangs that attack Palestinian people and properties under the IDF’s protection. The Gaza strip is under fierce and cruel blockade since 2007, the living conditions there make staying alive a challenge by itself. The situation in the Gaza Strip is clearly a humanitarian disaster.

It should be noted that Ziffer is a journalist, he is intelligent and he is a talented writer, and he is being followed by many Israelis. His post received hundreds of supporting reactions and was shared by dozens of Facebook users. Haaretz newspaper and magazine – where Ziffer is the editor of the Culture and Literature supplement – is considered very liberal and is mostly identified with the Israeli political left.

Another known and popular Israeli media personality, Yaron London, has said on his mainstream TV show: “Arabs are savages … they don’t only hate Jews, they kill their own first and foremost.”  London is identified with the political left as well.

The view of Palestinians as primitives that possess “murderous culture”, that it is practically impossible for them to live “among us” without killing us, and the wishful thinking toward transferring them out of the land – is as old as the state of Israel, if not older. Israel started off with a brutal ethnic cleansing project it called “independence war”, and attempts to transfer Palestinians out of the land controlled by Israel were made numerous times, always with only limited success. As Hagai El-Ad, the director general of B’Tselem described in an article last week, Transfer of Palestinians has always been the Israeli consensus. The de-humanization of the Palestinian people plays an important role in preparing the public opinion for extreme operations of ethnic cleansing. In particular among the political leftwing.

Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister in the early 1970’s, had made a statement that perfectly depicts the Israeli view of Arabs: “We are able to forgive the Arabs for the killing of our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will have peace with the Arabs only when they love their children more than they hate us.”

In her view, Israelis’ moral and cultural level is so high that they can forgive Arabs for killing their children, but not for forcing Israelis to kill Arab children. The Arabs, on the other hands, hate Jews more than they love their own children. It is left to the Israeli people to draw the conclusions.

Ziffer has apparently removed his post by now. I don’t know what made him remove it. But his message was already spread, and it got traction. And this represents a growing and spreading belief that time has come to complete the clearing of “the Jewish land” from those Palestinian people who are not worth living, let alone living alongside Jews.

Sivan Tal

Sivan Tal is an Israeli software engineer and writer, and the father of conscientious objector (refusenik) Hadas Tal.

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15 Responses

  1. Boomer on September 10, 2019, 2:16 pm

    Thanks for this. It certainly makes matters clear. And from an editor of a “liberal” paper! I’ve seen similar comments when I’ve delved into the Jerusalem Post, where it is more to be expected. If US MSM reported such sentiments, Americans would have a clearer understanding. Some, of course, would sympathize with his view, but others might come to see things differently, and be less supportive sending more aid to Israel.

    This morning I heard a discussion on BBC about last week’s UN report, which said (per WaPo):

    “By arming and backing a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, the United States, Britain and France may be complicit in potential war crimes, the United Nations said in a scathing report Tuesday that called for more accountability from all sides in the war.”

    It was pointed out that all nations who are members of the UN are supposed to observe the Geneva Conventions, and have a moral burden in proportion to the extent to which they have supported violations of those conventions. Surely a similar logic is true with regard to Palestine/Israel.

  2. brent on September 10, 2019, 2:56 pm

    Cultural bigotry is ugly and offensive.

    This is separate from the wisdom of resisting the genocide with tactics that reinforce the established narratives used to accomplish it.

    • Mooser on September 11, 2019, 11:54 am

      “Cultural bigotry”

      Yeah, that’s what it is. Ziffer must not like Palestinian music or something.

  3. Misterioso on September 11, 2019, 10:53 am

    Benny Ziffer’s comments regarding Palestinians bring to mind how Germany’s leaders viewed Jews during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. The hideous irony is overwhelming. Ziffer and his kind are really screwed up.

  4. Stephen Shenfield on September 11, 2019, 11:49 am

    Ziffer’s statement can be understood as shorthand for: “We, the holy people of this holy land, can only yearn for the land, defiled by this unholy presence, to vomit it out.” As “we” are so intimately fused with the land, why should the nausea felt by the land not transmit itself to “us” so that “our” reaction may serve as the means by which the defilement is vomited out?

  5. Michael Lesher on September 11, 2019, 3:59 pm

    This sort of racism isn’t new for Ziffer, who also refuses to admit the genocide of Armenians in 1915-1916. I wrote about him in a column some time ago:

    As I wrote there, according to Ziffer, “use of the word ‘genocide’ to describe the suffering of Armenians, or of any non-Jews for that matter, would dilute the uniqueness of ‘the Jewish Shoah,’ and that in the end might even encourage ‘self-righteous types’ to mourn the Palestinian Nakba – which, according to Ziffer, ‘is also no more than a salient product of postmodernism.'”

    Just ask yourself how long an overt racist and Holocaust denier would last as culture editor of a liberal Israeli (or American) newspaper — if his bigotry and denial were directed at Jews.

    • echinococcus on September 11, 2019, 7:53 pm


      The denial by Zionists of the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, continued with the same personnel by the Turkish Republic, is not purely out of invidia genocidii, the chronic and terminal disease of Genocide Envy.

      There also is a macabre calculation involving the Turkish military dictatorship, best allies of the Zionist murderers until some 10 years ago (and recently returned to power, never mind the different-suggesting theatrics.) The Zionist lobby has been directly responsible for blocking, year after year, any resolutions recognizing the genocide of the Armenians, except in the years where they threaten to go light on it in order to blackmail the Turkish government.

      After all, if genocidaires don’t scratch each other’s backs, who’s gonna do it for them?

  6. Steve Macklevore on September 11, 2019, 4:51 pm

    It takes a lot for an Israeli bigot to shock me, but that comment by Ziffer really stunned.

    I suppose I assumed the staff at Haaretz were a little more enlightened than most Israelis. Foolish me.

  7. echinococcus on September 11, 2019, 8:03 pm

    “Haaretz newspaper and magazine – where Ziffer is the editor of the Culture and Literature supplement – is considered very liberal and is mostly identified with the Israeli political left”

    Isn’t that enough to tell you once and for all how meaningless, or rather toxic, are words like “liberal” and “left”, once there is agreement as to the basic principle of Empire?

  8. Eva Smagacz on September 12, 2019, 4:43 am

    I have long believed that nothing will shock me with regard to ethno-religious Supremacist attitudes of adherents of Zionist ideology, but I was wrong.


    Resistance to being colonised –> Sexual deviancy –> Leviticus 18-25 –> Firm biblical basis for ethnic cleansing

    And this is liberal mindset.

    • MHughes976 on September 13, 2019, 3:46 pm

      It sounds awful, Eva, but what we see here, I think, is a); actually an element of compunction – did God permit the Israelites to kill and despoil innocent and peaceful people? No, surely. So there must have been something that would have removed them from the land in any event – b) the belief that the land ceases to be fertile if the gods are not placated – c) an early version of the idea that the land was ‘without a people’ because it had ‘vomited out’ all of them (by being no longer fertile) or all but a symbolic few of them. I think that Ptolemy’s historian Hecataeus was told this in the early days of Alexandria.

  9. Eva Smagacz on September 14, 2019, 6:26 am

    Hi MHughes976,

    Had great fun looking it up.

    So the original writing of Hecataeus of Abdera was not preserved, but Diodorus Siculus incorporated his accounts in his own work, which also has been lost, but then the text was referred to by guy called Photius of Constantinopol, who wrote:

    From the fortieth book [of Diodorus], about the middle:(34)

    “[3.1) Now that we intend to record the war against the Jews, we consider it appropriate to give first an outline [εν χεφαλαιοιζ] of the foundation [ktisis] from its beginning and of the customs [nomima] practiced among them.

    When in ancient times a pestilence arose in Egypt, the ordinary people ascribed their troubles to the working of a divine power [το δαιμονιον]; for indeed with many strangers of all sorts dwelling in their midst and practicing different habits of rites and sacrifice, their own traditional observances in honour of the gods had fallen into disuse.

    [3.2] Hence the natives of the land [ of Egypt ] surmised that unless they removed the foreigners, their troubles would never be resolved.

    At once, therefore, the aliens were driven from the country; and the most outstanding [επιφανεστατοι] and active among them banded together and, as some say, were cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions; (..) But the greater number were driven into what is now called Judea “

    All found in book by Bezalel Bar-Kochva “Pseudo Hecataeus, “On the Jews”: Legitimizing the Jewish Diaspora” University of California Press 1996

    • MHughes976 on September 15, 2019, 11:39 am

      That’s a useful quote indeed, Eva, though I think that the next few words ..‘Judaea which was then utterly deserted…under the leadership of the exceptionally wise and courageous Moses’, (though he does go on to say that Moses later led victorious armies) are also interesting for offering a comparatively ‘vegetarian’ account of the foundation of Judaea and an early version both of ‘a land without a people’ and even of ‘making the desert bloom’.

      • Mooser on September 15, 2019, 4:32 pm

        “the leadership of the exceptionally wise and courageous Moses’,”

        Can’t say enough about the man. Why, he invented an entirely new art form.

  10. kev on September 15, 2019, 1:39 pm

    His statement constitutes what I consider to be a blood libel against Palestinians.

    I would like to reply with what I consider to be a truth:

    Ethnic cleansing and genocide (of Palestinians) for Zionists is an existential necessity for Zionists to achieve the Greater Israel Jewish supremacist state, which is one of the reasons why Zionism is not just morally bankrupt but is wholly evil, because ethnic cleansing and genocide are evil.

    The Jewish leaders at the founding of Israel recognized the necessity and shrugged off the evil. The modern state of Israel was conceived in sin, born in sin, and continues to sin against the Palestinians. The US and European states are complicit in aiding and abetting or at least allowing this travesty to continue.

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