Home > Suppression of Dissent > Sheizaf: The persecution of Haaretz

Sheizaf: The persecution of Haaretz

Cross-posted from Promised Land.

Editor’s note: A recent Coteret post bemoaned, in this context, the absence of satire. Eretz Nehederet has now come through with a skit. It can be viewed here (Hebrew only; H/T Richard Silverstein.)


The persecution of Haaretz

Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily paper, has a status that exceeds its limited circulation. Israel’s supporters who whishes to portray it as a thriving democracy give Haaretz as an example; Critics of Israel use Haaretz when claiming that the US media is too easy on Israel (”The NYT would have never printed Gidon Levy’s op-ed“). Even after suffering loses during the financial crisis and going through major cuts the paper remains the best source for information on human right issues and on Israeli politics. It is also the only Israeli newspaper to have an internet site and printed editions in both Hebrew and English.

These days, Haaretz is under attack. Rightwing groups, pundits, politicians and competing media organizations go after the paper. They accuse it of being “too liberal”, “too lefty”, even “anti-Israeli”. The attack was triggered because of the Kamm-Blau affair, but the case against Haaretz is far wider and deeper, and has a lot to do with the dangerous nationalistic mood in Israel right now.

Two articles on the front page of Maariv’s weekend edition took shots at Haaretz: Ben Dror Yeminiaccused the paper of aiding “the industry which demonizes and delegitimizes the State of Israel,” and Columnist Menahem Ben simply called for the paper to be shut down and its editor and publisher arrested for treason.

After the exposure of the Kamm affair, MK Michael Ben-Ari, a former student of Rabbi Kahana, cancelled his Knesset subscription for Haaretz and called interior Minister Eli Yishay to use his authority and immediately forbid the printing of Haaretz. Surprisingly enough, Ben-Ari was joined by two MK’s from Kadima: MK Israel Hason, a former Shin Beit man, called for readers to boycott Haaretz, while MK Yulia Shmuelov wrote her own letter to minister Yishay demanding Haaretz to be shut down.

Radio Host Avri Gilad said last Sunday on the IDF station that “I mourn what happened to the Left and to the Left’s journal [Haaretz]… it is making the left irrelevant in Israel… every sensible person today understand that the Left has made the state of Israel its enemy.” There wasn’t even a slight protest heard.

And this is what rightwing columnist and editor for Jerusalem Post (who is rapidly becoming the Israeli Pravda), Caroline Glick, had to say:

By collaborating with Kamm first by publishing her stolen documents and hiring her as a reporter, and finally by covering up her crimes while suborning Blau’s perjury, Haaretz has demonstrated that leftist traitors have a powerful sponsor capable of exacting painful revenge on the State of Israel for daring to prosecute them.

In facilitating and supporting treason, Haaretz itself can depend on a massive network of supporters in Israel and internationally. Reporters, self-proclaimed human rights groups, and the leftist blogosphere in Israel and throughout the world as well as foreign governments happily swallow whole Haaretz’s manufactured stories about Israel’s purported venality.

I agree with Hanoch Maramri, Haaretz’s former editor, who wrote in The 7th Eye that Haaretz will survive this attack. The paper suffered boycott attempts during the first and second Intifada, when its editors insisted on reporting cases of abuse and illegal actions by IDF soldiers. But these were different times for journalism, and the real danger is that the delicate financial situation affecting all newspapers will make Haaretz change its line a bit so it wouldn’t bleed too many readers.

Even more important is what these events teach on the current moment in Israel. Most people outside this country fail to notice it, but we are at the dangerous turning point in which words and ideas, and not just acts, are becoming illegitimate in this country, even criminal. Haaretz won’t be the last victim.

  1. ARTH
    April 20, 2010 at 17:00

    HaAretz always has had controversial episodes and always, in protest, subscribers cancel their subscriptions. There is nothing new about this and there is no reason to think that this particular episode is any more of a threat than those in the past.

    HaAretz has a very limited circulation and even among those who read it, only a minority of them actually agree with their liberal positions. HaAretz has very little to the mainstream opinions in Israel which are all nationalistic, right-wing, anti-liberal, and racist.

    • April 21, 2010 at 04:43

      On the contrary – the Israeli mainstream is skewed significantly to the left. The most right-wing fundamentalist in Israel would be a liberal anywhere else in the world. Anyone in Israel actually labeled left or liberal is on the antisemitic lunatic fringe, especially including Haaretz.

      On a September 10, 2007 briefing at the home of US Ambassador Richard Jones in Israel, Haaretz Chief Editor David Landau Landau, who was seated next to Rice, referred to Israel as a “failed state” politically, and said that a US-imposed settlement is the only thing that can save it. He asked Rice to intervene, going so far as to say that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” and that it would bring him much satisfaction to see this happen.

      Caroline Glick is a genius.

      • ARTH
        April 21, 2010 at 09:40

        I am not speaking about the media. That is a different discussion. I am speaking about Israeli public opinion, and policy. If Israel was so skewed to the left, why has the settlement policy continued uninterrupted for the past 30 years? Why is racism and intolerance in Israel increasing more and more? Why has Israeli’s Arab minority “Palestinianized” itself?

      • ARTH
        April 21, 2010 at 09:46

        Your post only confirms what I am saying which is that HaAretz is a small newspaper with little influence on the general state-of-affairs. David Landau’s opinions are irrelevant in the larger scheme of things in Israel.
        HaAretz, and David Landau, are hardly “mainstream” at all. The readership of Yedioth Ahronoth, which is the largest circulating Hebrew-language newspaper in Israel is at least %400 higher.

      • Tom
        April 23, 2010 at 05:24

        Ben, by your logic, Caroline Glick is liberal. But just read her own statements in her website, where she disparages her own liberal upbringing in Chicago.

        Labeling Ha’aretz as “antisemitic lunatic fringe” is silly. Ask yourself why Ha’aretz is so widely quoted in the U.S. and European media. Is the U.S. media, such as the NY Times which often quotes it, antisemitic? I think not.

  2. April 21, 2010 at 00:00

    A newspaper is a mirror of reality, not a mirror of illusions the reader might have. THanks Haaretz.

  1. April 20, 2010 at 23:12

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