A major tactic that the New York Times deploys to slant the news about Israel/Palestine is to downplay or cover up racism by Jewish Israelis, including political leaders. That tactic is on display yet again in today’s report on Israel’s latest failure to form a government.
Let’s start with the truth; the centrist opposition, led by Benny Gantz, could not build a governing coalition in large part due to Jewish racism against the 20 percent of Israelis who are Palestinian. These Palestinian citizens of Israel voted for the Joint List, headed by Ayman Odeh, which came in third. Gantz tried to form a minority government with tacit support from the Joint List.
Benjamin Netanyahu viciously attacked this proposed Gantz government, and he was joined by Avigdor Liberman, whose ultranationalist party also won enough seats to figure into the calculus. Benny Gantz, to his credit, resisted their racism, and so his effort failed.
You have to read the Times report closely to even glimpse the full, ugly truth. The paper does say that Gantz “accused Mr. Netanyahu of trying to foment a ‘civil war’ by scapegoating Arab lawmakers.” A little further on, the paper quotes Gantz, “And I will not accept the delegitimacy of any part of the Israeli public.”
So what did Netanyahu say to get Gantz worked up? The Times is nearly quiet. It does quickly blurt out that Netanyahu called the Palestinian Arab lawmakers “terror supporters,” and, nearly at the end of the report, adds that Netanyahu said a government with Palestinian Israeli support would be “dangerous for Israel.”
That’s it. The same paper that dissects every bigoted innuendo by Donald Trump somehow loses that ability when it comes to the political leaders of Jewish Israelis.
Even worse is that the article nowhere asks Ayman Odeh and the Joint List for any comment at all. Reporters Isabel Kershner and David Halbfinger will let Netanyahu call them “terror supporters,” but they somehow couldn’t find Odeh to ask him about his lifelong commitment to nonviolence, following the example of his hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What’s more, how does the Joint List react to being shut out of the government coalition by racism? More generally, how do Palestinian Israelis feel about the fact that they — one-fifth of the population — will never be allowed to participate in the government of their own country, even from the outside? If any other nation in the world imposed such Political Apartheid against 20 percent of its people, there would be an international scandal.
The Times didn’t even ask Benny Gantz to comment about how racism blocked him from becoming prime minister. He showed some courage here, but we learn nothing about it.
Meanwhile, the Times still hasn’t gotten around to publishing a profile of Ayman Odeh. In the meantime, here’s an excellent portrait of him in Haaretz, the independent Israeli paper. Bradley Burston starts off by writing: “Ayman Odeh is 10 times the Israeli I am.” Who isn’t going to keep reading after that beginning?