Speakers who deny Palestinians are equals and justify their massacre are sages in the pages of the ‘Times’
|Philip Weiss – February 8, 2019|
Anti-Palestinianism is alive and well in the New York Times.
The newspaper ran an article the other day about the arrival in Congress of two critics of Israel, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — “From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows on Israel” — that while halfway fair to the women left the impression that they are unhinged. Writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg said the two have “uncompromising views on Israel,” but Omar is for a two-state solution, and Tlaib is for equal rights for all, which seems to amount to “bigotry” in the eyes of the Times.
Here is the framing:
[W]hile Democratic leaders publicly defend them, some Democratic colleagues are clearly uneasy. Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida and a founder of a bipartisan task force to combat anti-Semitism, said some of the lawmakers’ comments “fall into longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.” When Ms. Omar was named to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, its chairman, Representative Eliot Engel of New York, told her privately that he would not allow some of her “particularly hurtful” remarks to be “swept under the rug,” Mr. Engel said.
Both women are under fire for comments they have made on Twitter, and in Ms. Tlaib’s case, for her association with Palestinian rights activists who have used social media either to express or share extreme views, such as equating Zionism with Nazism. Both declined to be interviewed
Stolberg threw in a little Hezbollah and deployed Jewish phobia as a cudgel — “a position some fear would erode Israel as a Jewish homeland” — and gave herself away when she described the new Basic Law that defines Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people as merely a “2018 law” and added:
The law is controversial in Israel as well.
Is it really? It was put forward by the “leftwing” Zionist camp several years ago and the tougher version went through 62-55 with a large majority of the Jewish legislators. It represents the will of that society and the real spirit of Zionism in 2019, witness the fact that Labor Zionists have all but disappeared and Netanyahu’s chief opposition runs ads declaring himself the author of the last Gaza massacre.
Not surprisingly, the article concludes by giving Rep. Eliot Engel the last word, as though he is a sober judge.
Democratic critics of Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar held out hope that time in Congress could temper their views. “You hope that when people are elected to Congress, they continue to grow,” Mr. Engel said, “and I hope that will be the case here.
Engel is no sage, he’s at the very least an adversary to Omar and Tlaib. Last year he told a private gatherings of the rightwing Israel lobby group, AIPAC, that the Congresswomen “need to be educated” about Israel, which can do no wrong.
“The Arabs tried to push the Jews into the sea. It didn’t work. Each time that is what happened. It was the Israelis who said yes and the Palestinians who said no.”
Engel concluded his remarks on that occasion, “Am Yisrael Chai,” Hebrew for, the people of Israel live! He has said: “Israel is a passion of mine. There’s nothing more I feel I can do than to make sure the United States and Israel stand strongly together.”
As for Palestinian rights? The settlements are “quote-unquote settlements,” and “there’s no way that Israel is returning to the 1967 lines… We are going to continue to resist every move the Palestinians may do to declare a state in the United Nations.”
The new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee is also a favorite of the Zionist Organization of America, which denies the existence of Palestine, and issues Islamophobic testimonials to Engel: he “fully understands the truth of the Arab-Islamic war against Israel and the West.”
No wonder Tlaib and Omar declined to be interviewed by the Times.
The Times also ran an attack by columnist David Leonhardt on the star of the new Democratic class, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, because the Queens/Bronx representative who is transforming the parameters of the discourse before our eyes has consulted by telephone with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK “about building a new trans-Atlantic political alliance.”
Leonhardt’s article was a litany of the usual innuendo against Corbyn for being an anti-Semite. The amount of namecalling from start to finish was astonishing.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, has a long history of playing footsie with bigotry — specifically with anti-Semitism… In Corbyn’s case, anti-Semites are clearly comfortable working with him. He has been slow to apologize for cozying up to them and has done so only after intense criticism. His approach has had some similarities to the wink-wink relationship that some Republican politicians in the United States have with white nationalists… Any American politician who wants to praise parts of the Corbyn agenda has a duty to reject his comfort with bigotry…
It seems strange to have to make this point during a week when this country is rightly denouncing Ralph Northam’s history of bigotry.
It’s pretty clear that Corbyn’s biggest crime is the same thing Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are guilty of: they’re too outspoken for Palestinian rights. So Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been warned, she better be careful about criticizing Israel.
Palestinians don’t exist in Leonhardt’s framing of the discourse. He gives himself away when he brings in a sage to explain things, much as Stolberg quoted Eliot Engel.
When confronted about these instances, [Corbyn] has repeatedly claimed to have been unaware of his friends’ hatred. “Corbyn has an odd knack for stumbling into the arms of the Hebraically disinclined,” my colleague Bret Stephens has written…
Is Bret Stephens any kind of solon? Stephens wrote repeatedly that Obama “betrayed” Israel, said that Benjamin Netanyahu dwarfed Obama as a politician and man, and has gone in for Islamophobia, asserting that anti-Semitism is a “disease of the Arab mind.”
Palestinians count for very little at all in Stephens’s estimation of culture and politics. Last spring he blamed caged Gazans for the Israeli massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters at the fence:
Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?… No decent Palestinian society can emerge from the culture of victimhood, violence and fatalism symbolized by these protests.
Later he called Gaza a “military quagmire.” As if the Israelis are suffering in Gaza when more than 29,000 Palestinians have been injured, many of them maimed.
Why do Americans take such a racist view of Palestinian rights without even realizing it? Why do Americans dismiss their insistence on equality or freedom of movement, or their desire to recover stolen property, as the impulses of violent savages not fellow human beings? The answer is in the framing of these articles in our most important newspaper, and its portrayal of anti-Palestinian ideologues as guides.
Thanks to Donald Johnson for links and cogitation. And to Yakov Hirsch.