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‘NY Times’ election coverage whitewashes anti-Arab racism among Jewish Israelis

Media Analysis
on 28 Comments

Just imagine the outcry if the New York Times completely ignored the existence of black and Latino voters in its analysis of the U.S. elections. But the paper continues to practice electoral apartheid in its coverage of Israel, which goes to the polls again Monday for the third time in less than a year.

Let’s start with a fact: 20 percent of the population of Israel within the 1967 borders are Arab Palestinians. Yet David Halbfinger’s pre-election survey today finds 6 different Jewish Israelis to quote, but not one single Arab. 

He also treats the repeat elections as a kind of joke:

Is this election more ‘Groundhog Day’ or an episode of the ‘Twilight Zone’? A Sartre novel or a Beckett play?

His attempt at wit covers up the ugly truth; Israel continues to have one election after another partly because there is so much anti-Arab racism in the country that none of the major Jewish political parties will dare to form even a tacit alliance with the Joint List, which represents the one-fifth of Israelis of Palestinian background. 

Halbfinger’s long report includes only one sentence about the Joint List: 

Spirits are comparatively high among Israel’s Arab minority, whose politicians want to improve on the 13 seats in Parliament that their combined slate, the Joint List, won in September. 

By not following up this tantalizing observation, Halbfinger is committing journalistic malpractice of a high order.

Once again, you can turn to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to learn about what the New York Times is concealing. Apparently Palestinian citizens of Israel are not the only people planning to vote for the Joint List. An intriguing Haaretz podcast predicts that the Jewish vote for the Arab coalition could double to 70,000, a “record number,” which could give the group one more parliamentary seat. 

You also won’t learn from Halbfinger’s whitewash that the leader of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, has become what the Haaretz podcasters call “the first superstar politician from the Arab community.” They say he is “super-likable.” Bradley Burston, a veteran Jewish journalist, describes him as “much more Israeli than I ever will be.”

The Haaretz podcasters also use a painful but accurate word to describe Palestinian citizens in Israel’s political system: “pariahs.” Until now, Arab voters know that their candidates will never be able to form part of the government, and the number of Palestinian Arab cabinet ministers over the decades has been laughably tiny. Imagine the indignation if black Americans and Latinos were still kept out of the U.S. government. 

And the New York Times continues to ignore Ayman Odeh, even though 1) he leads the 3rd-largest political force in Israel, 2) he is completely committed to nonviolence, and 3) he is impressive and quotable in person, as this site found more than 4 years ago.

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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28 Responses

  1. bcg on February 27, 2020, 1:36 pm

    Not only does the NYT whitewash anti-Arab racism among Israeli Jews, it whitewashes anti-Arab racism at AIPAC. The Forward just ran an article about the anti-Muslim bigotry of AIPAC:

    “Bravo, Bernie, for skipping AIPAC. It’s a platform for anti-Muslim bigotry…”

  2. just on February 27, 2020, 2:40 pm

    Thanks for doing the distasteful work, James. I cannot bear to read the anti- Palestinian NYT. So Halbfinger et al are ‘erasing’ Palestinians in much the same way the Israel does… until the ‘leaders’ incite fear that they might turn out in droves and upset the apple cart.

    “Spirits are comparatively high among Israel’s Arab minority, whose politicians want to improve on the 13 seats in Parliament that their combined slate, the Joint List, won in September. ”

    Now, that reeks of the plantation, imho. Lordy! And please tell me why they insist on calling them “Israel’s Arab minority” when you can get it correct with ease? Palestinian Arabs or Arab Palestinians~ whichever they would prefer! I mean, they are Palestinians!!!

    Ayman Odeh and the Joint List should fare well. Here’s a podcast with Gideon Levy that is amazing~ he’ll tell you who he is voting for as well:

    “Bernie, Bibi and the Brutal Occupation: Listen to Gideon Levy”

  3. Misterioso on February 27, 2020, 3:36 pm

    A brief look at “anti-Arab racism among Jewish Israelis.”

    Eminent Jewish Israeli journalist Bradley Burston aptly sums up the horrors Israel inflicts on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem:
    “Occupation is Slavery”
    “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Haaretz, Feb. 26/13)

    Rabbi Perin, in an eulogy for mass murderer, Baruch Goldstein, in 1994: ‘One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.’ (New York Times, Feb. 28, 1994)

    In April, 2001, during his Passover sermon, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party and former Israeli Chief Rabbi, described the Arabs as ‘serpents’ and in his Passover sermon, he stated that ‘the Lord shall waste their seed, devastate them and vanish them from this world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.’

    Regarding Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank, Raphael Eitan, then Israel’s Chief of Staff, declared: ‘When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle….(New York Times, 14 April 1983)

    Prime Minister Ehud Barak: ‘The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more…’ (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2002)

    “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
    EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

    “The Racist Entity That Is Taking Over Israel Must Be Toppled”
    Haaretz, Feb 27, 2011 by Sefi Rachlevsky
    “…Israel has built a world where the Jews are citizens and the Arabs are not, both in the occupied territories and in Jerusalem; where a Jewish man is a citizen and his Arab neighbor is not. Most Jewish first-graders attend ultra-Orthodox and religious schools. The majority of them are educated along the lines of ‘The King’s Torah.’ A Jew is human. A non-Jew is non-human. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ does not apply to non-Jews. And this is not delivered in the form of incitement, but as a simple statement of a fact. As simple as calling a chair a chair.”

  4. Emet on February 27, 2020, 9:44 pm

    Ridiculous that James ignores what can also be said about Palestinian Arab racism and which is even closer to the truth than what he claims against Jewish Israelis.
    James, the soft spoken tea drinking Palestinian Arabs that you happen to know do not represent the Palestinian cause. They have zero influence on the Arab street. They do not represent the street because they are too scared of getting their throats cut but those who actually control the street. You are confused James and you do not want to see the truth.

    • hai_bar on February 28, 2020, 6:48 am

      Wow. I’ve been for years walking the streets within Arabs talking all sort of things. Last time I check my cut is intact.

      What kind of Hollywood, out aged, fucked-up image are you trying to paint of Arabs, “Emet”? Is this coming from an experienced “Arab-Knife” dodger?

      • Mooser on February 28, 2020, 12:04 pm

        “What kind of Hollywood, out aged, fucked-up image are you trying to paint of Arabs, “Emet”? “

        It seems to me the Zionist rhetoric about the inferiority of “Arabs” is pretty much based on and draws from white-supremacist rhetoric about the inferiority of African-Americans, or dark-skinned people generally.
        That’s the way the matzoh crumbles; into a half-baked cracker.

      • Emet on February 28, 2020, 12:19 pm

        hai_bar, Let me guess where you get your news from? CNN, Mondoweiss, Al Jazeera., BBC? You don’t know what you don’t know. Apparently the “Arab Spring” , what ISIS have done, and the continual rocket and IED attacks on innocent civilians passes over you like a ship in the night?Do you know how many murders there have been just this year amongst Israeli Arabs, or as most like to call themselves, Palestinians? Check and come back and tell some of your out-of-touch friends.

      • Mooser on February 28, 2020, 2:26 pm

        “That’s the way the matzoh crumbles; into a half-baked cracker.” (attr. to Miami Mendez*)

        Thanks, “Emet”, knew I could count on you for validation.

        (* of whom it was said of him: ‘West of the Fontainebleau, he was the Law!’)

    • Misterioso on February 28, 2020, 10:04 am


      I wonder if the countless number of horrible events similar to the following are a cause of Palestinians’ anger against their illegal and brutal Jewish Zionist occupiers.

      “Israeli settlers torch Palestinian school in latest ‘price tag’ attack”
      Middle East Eye, Feb. 28/20 By Shatha Hammad in Einabus, occupied West Bank.

      “Students and teachers rattled after finding classroom a charred mess on Tuesday morning.”

      “Israeli settlers set fire to a classroom last night in the occupied West Bank village of Einabus, in the latest apparent ‘price tag’ attack on Palestinian communities, students and teachers told Middle East Eye.

      “Rateb Nassar, the deputy headmaster of the affected school, told MEE that Israeli settlers came from the nearby illegal settlement of Yitzhar, and threw burning materials inside one of the classrooms.

      “The assailants also spray-painted racist and anti-Arab slogans on the walls, threatening to kill Palestinians and burn their properties, he added.

      “’This is the most dangerous attack the school has witnessed, and it indicates that more settler attacks are to come,’ Nassar said.

      “’This attack caused a great deal of complication in the day’s teaching, the teachers are nervous and the students are scared… Despite that we held classes as usual.’

      “’Price tag’ attacks, in which Israeli settlers intimidate Palestinian communities through violence and vandalism, have become increasingly common in the West Bank. Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the number of reported incidents rose from 140 across all of 2017 to nearly 500 in 2018.

      “Last week, Israeli settlers torched a mosque and wrote racist anti-Arab slogans on its walls in the occupied East Jerusalem suburb of Sharafat village.

      “In addition to slashing car tyres and painting anti-Arab slogans, ‘price-tag’ attacks often include assaults on Palestinians, the burning of properties and sacred places, and cutting down trees belonging to Palestinian farmers.

      “Fear and anxiety”
      “Twenty-nine students use the classroom in Einabus, a village south of Nablus, which was left with torched furniture, smashed windows and black scorch marks up its walls.

      “Mohammed Azmi Hajja, a 10-year-old student, told MEE that he arrived at school on Tuesday morning ready to study, only to find his classroom a charred mess.

      “’Our day has been turned upside down into one of fear and anxiety… We were eager for the new English lesson,’ Hajja, in the fifth grade, said.

      “’Our desks were burnt, and so were the paintings I had worked on and cost me a lot of money and effort. I am very sad for the loss.’

      “Riad Shokokani, a teacher, told MEE that the attack had left everyone at the school on edge.

      “’As teachers we are trying to hide our stress, and we are trying to calm down the students and assure them that such attacks will not be repeated,’ Shokokani said.

      “He added that these attacks directly impact the mental state of the children and that ‘it plays a role in encouraging students to drop out of school and not return.’

      “Palestinian Education Minister Naser Abu Karsh told Wafa news agency that ‘these settlers and occupation attacks will not scare the Palestinian people and will not stop the teaching process’, adding that the attack is not the first.

      “Nassar, the deputy headmaster, told MEE that in September 2019 Israeli settlers tried to attack the school while they ran riot in the village, prompting clashes and the intervention of Israeli forces.

      “Nassar said the local council of Einabus agreed last month to place mesh over the school’s windows to protect it from such attacks. As well as the classrooms, there were many important documents in the headmaster’s office that needed preservation, he added.

      “’But the school could not afford to put these on all the classroom windows… Also, the school will feel like a prison if we put such things on all the windows,’ he said.

      “’The school should have roses and gardens around it, not fences on its windows, but we do not have any other choice after Israeli attacks.’

      “Eyad Awwad, director of Nablus’s education department, told MEE that settlers wrote ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Death to Murderers’ on the school, signing the name ‘Uri’ under it.

      “’This is a direct threat to kill, and incitement against the children who study there by calling them murderers,’ Awwad said.

      “The Israeli army had not issued any statement regarding the incident at the time of publication.”

      • oldgeezer on February 28, 2020, 4:32 pm

        Too lazy to do the math but first blush it appears that the rates of anti Palestinian racist attacks perpetrated by Israeli terrorists are an order of magnitude, or so, greater than antisemitic incidents against Jews in Western nations. I may be wrong but if I’m not then I am wrong to raise it as an issue haha

        Hard to quickly think about all the ramifications of that but interesting nonetheless and worth exploring. Imagine if western nations not only ignored a/s but incited it even when the problem is/was many times greater than it is. Easy enough as there is history. Now imagine GoI members not actively inciting violence against innocent civilians. Ok… that’s harder as it’s pure fantasy.

  5. Jackdaw on February 28, 2020, 5:51 am

    Yeah. And Mondoweiss completely ignores the slaughter and refugee crisis in Idlib, Syria.


    • Misterioso on February 28, 2020, 10:07 am


      Sigh. Why do you bother to comment? All you do is demonstrate that you have nothing to say regarding the subject at hand.

      • Mooser on February 28, 2020, 2:11 pm

        “All you do is demonstrate that you have nothing to say regarding the subject at hand.”

        I think “Jackdaw” is demonstrating quite a bit. Ziocaine dementia in its every phase.
        We get to watch the proverbial matzoh crumble…

      • Jackdaw on February 29, 2020, 1:40 am

        No Mister Zero, I am saying more about the subject at hand than all the comment put together; which subject, is ‘white washing’.

        NYT whitewashes Israeli racism, and Mondoweiss whitewashes slaughter, ethnic cleansing and a massive refugee crisis.

        If I was a Syrian, I’d want to spit on Mondoweiss.

      • eljay on February 29, 2020, 2:40 pm

        || Jackdaw: … If I was a Syrian, I’d want to spit on Mondoweiss. ||

        You’d want to, but you wouldn’t be able to because you ran dry spitting on non-Jews in vehement defence of the “right” of people who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish to be supremacists, to have as large as possible a supremacist state and to do “necessary evil” unto others.

    • eljay on February 28, 2020, 6:30 pm

      || Jackdaw: … Mondoweiss completely ignores the slaughter and refugee crisis in Idlib, Syria. … ||

      It’s funny what can happen to a country when you politically and economically destabilize it, drop bombs on it, fund and arm radical groups to help destroy it and otherwise commit (war) crimes against it.

      That said, I agree that Israel – a deliberately and unapologetically colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state – shouldn’t be “singled out” for special treatment. What’s good for Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya is certainly good enough for Israel.

  6. Ossinev on February 28, 2020, 7:39 am

    “You are confused James and you do not want to see the truth”

    The truth is that Palestinian Arabs are anti – colonialist ie they can be considered to be racist in the sense that they “hate” those foreigners of whatever race or nationality who in the name of their religion = Judaism have invaded their country have slaughtered expelled terrorised and brutalised the native Palestinian Arabs and continue to do so very largely thanks to the protocolised complicity of US politicians.

    I expect you yourself would have little difficulty in recognising the “truth” if a mixed bunch of of strangers knocked down your front door raped your wife brutalised your children forced you out of your neighbourhood took over your house as being their “historic” home and blamed you for making them resort to force Sob Yawn Sob Yawn ad nauseum victimiseum.

  7. Mooser on February 28, 2020, 12:38 pm

    And Eli Lake says Sander’s demurrer to AIPAC will cost him the Jewish vote.

    Bernie Sanders, Lake says, is “boycotting pro-Israel Americans” and Lake says we should “BDS him”.

    • Mooser on February 28, 2020, 2:19 pm

      So let me see, Jewish support will go to Trump instead of the Democratic candidates who express any negative narrative about Israel. And all that in the public eye, as Jewish leaders extol us to to vote our real interests.
      And when Trump wins, and everybody agrees it was Jewish political activism which got him elected again, we can take the credit and reap the rewards! I just don’t see any flaw in that ointment.

  8. Ossinev on February 28, 2020, 2:03 pm

    ” And Mondoweiss completely ignores the slaughter and refugee crisis in Idlib, Syria.”

    All together now sing along to that famous Zionist anthem.


    • Jackdaw on February 29, 2020, 1:52 am

      Right, Ossified.

      Whatabout hypocrisy?

      Whatabout obsessive/compulsive behavior?

      Whatabout ignoring war crimes in Syria?

      Whatabout trying to jack up a limp, failed credo called Marxism?

      Whatabout Ossified?

      • Mooser on February 29, 2020, 2:22 pm

        “Whatabout trying to jack up a limp, failed credo called Marxism?”

        We hold our Marxism close, so close. Any closer and it’s be behind us!
        That’s because we are fighting for Marxism’s honor, which is more than Marx ever did!
        Outside of a dog, Marxism is man’s best friend! Inside of a dog, of course, it’s too dark to read Marx.

  9. Mooser on February 29, 2020, 11:56 am

    “Jackdaw”, the Validator.

  10. Ossinev on February 29, 2020, 1:20 pm

    The rest of your rant was pure(sic) Ziodung but the Marxism bit was seriously weird. Have you been skipping your meds again ?

    • Mooser on February 29, 2020, 2:14 pm

      “Have you been skipping your meds again ?”

      Now, don’t taunt the old tsitsa makher. If it wasn’t for Mondo, who would talk to “Jackdaw”?

    • Rashers2 on March 7, 2020, 6:55 pm

      “Have you been skipping your meds again ?” Reads a lot like it… If we stick to our medication, it’s much easier for us not to forget that, last time, the time before and the time before that, when we tried to deflect from a serious comment with a complete irrelevance, we were made to look the fool that we were/are. Keep poppin’ them pills, Jack habibi, to counteract that nasty ol’ Ziocaine.

      • Mooser on March 8, 2020, 3:13 pm

        “Keep poppin’ them pills, Jack habibi, to counteract that nasty ol’ Ziocaine.”

        Unfortunately the only medication which promises to ameliorate the Ziocaine Syndrome is a properly shaped extract of the ash tree, applied with vigor, and more than likely, “Jackdaw” is too old to stand the side effects.

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