BY JAMES NORTH FEBRUARY 12, 2021
B’TSELEM’S COVER IMAGE FOR ITS JAN. 12, 2021 REPORT FINDING THAT ISRAEL IS AN APARTHEID REGIME.
One month after one of Israel’s leading human rights organizations declared that the country is ruled by an “apartheid” state, liberal Zionists in the U.S. are breathing more easily. The New York Times and the Washington Post have still published nothing on the landmark finding by the human rights group B’Tselem, nor have any of their editorial writers or main columnists chimed in.
Liberal Zionists can relax. With the apartheid designation still a secret to most Americans, groups like J Street don’t have to explain why they still oppose the nonviolent global campaign for Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS).
Media elsewhere did report B’Tselem’s finding that Israel maintains “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” The British Guardian ran an article the day the report appeared, and followed it with an Op-Ed by the human rights group’s quotable (Jewish) leader, Hagai El-Ad. Haaretz, in Israel, was not afraid to cover the report promptly, and followed with at least 2 opinion pieces, by Ilana Hammerman and Gideon Levy.
In the U.S., though, you had to go to the alternative press for comprehensive coverage. The always valuable Mitchell Plitnick had a long analysis in The Nation. And this site covered the apartheid finding repeatedly, including thorough posts by our Yumna Patel and by Robert A.H. Cohen. We also ran Norman Finkelstein’s argument that “Jewish supremacist” was a more accurate description of Israel than “apartheid state.”
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No one is asking the New York Times and Washington Post correspondents to agree with B’Tselem’s finding of apartheid. We understand the conventions of mainstream reporting. But the big papers should have at least told their readers that the finding existed, and then sought comment from the other side.
Which that old pro-Israel warhorse, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), would have been happy to provide. CAMERA first attacked the anodyne Associated Press report, and two weeks later rattled on for hundreds of words about “Understanding B’Tselem’s ‘Apartheid’ Libel.”
The whole idea is that the mainstream press is supposed to report on major issues, give varying points of view, and let the reader decide. Instead the Times and the Post are censoring themselves — and suppressing vital news to their readers.
The almost complete silence by Times and Post editorialists is even more inexplicable. They are paid to have opinions. What are Thomas Friedman and Bret Stephens afraid of? They could have come right out, summarized the B’Tselem report, and then torn it to pieces. Instead: not a word from either of them.