Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Israel Repudiates Obama and the New York Times

It may or may not be true, but someone once told me that, in comparing The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Noam Chomsky once said: At least, with the Journal you can trust the facts.

Supposedly, Chomsky added that people who read the Journal use the information to make business decisions. They would never tolerate a newspaper that skewed the facts.

[Addendum: For the original quote, see the second comment by A. O. below this post. Myu thanks to A. O. for finding it.]

This morning, both the Times and the Journal are reporting on yesterday’s Israeli election.

The Journal opens thusly:

Benjamin Netanyahu has won a fourth term as Israel’s prime minister, with his right-wing Likud party seizing a decisive five-seat advantage in parliament over the main opposition Zionist Union party.

With 99% of the ballots counted, Likud is slated to control 29 of parliament’s 120 seats to 24 for Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union, Israel Radio reported early Wednesday.

That advantage means Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving premier after David Ben-Gurion, will have little difficulty in forming a majority coalition based on right-wing nationalist and religious parties.

After declaring victory “against all odds’’ before a crowd of ecstatic Likud activists shortly after midnight on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu promised to form a government swiftly.

And then there’s the New York Times.

Its lead news story begins:

After a bruising campaign focused on his failings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel won a clear victory in Tuesday’s elections and seemed all but certain to form a new government and serve a fourth term, though he offended many voters and alienated allies in the process.

Jodi Rudoren continues:

It was a stunning turnabout from the last pre-election polls published Friday, which showed the Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog, with a four- or five-seat lead and building momentum, and the Likud polling close to 20 seats. To bridge the gap, Mr. Netanyahu embarked on a last-minute scorched-earth campaign, promising that no Palestinian  state would be established as long as he remained in office and insulting Arab citizens.

In case you missed the message:

But it remained to be seen how his divisive — some said racist — campaign tactics would affect his ability to govern a fractured Israel.

When you arrive at the end of the story, you read this:

In the Jerusalem suburb of Tzur Hadassah, Eli Paniri, 54, a longtime Likud supporter, said he “voted for the only person who should be prime minister: Netanyahu.”

“I am not ashamed of this,” Mr. Paniri said after weeks of Netanyahu-bashing from all sides. “He is a strong man and, most important, he stood up to President Obama.”

Rudoren does not say it, but Israeli voters did not just stand up to President Obama. They stood up to the New York Times.

Last Sunday, in a desperate effort to influence the election and to save President Obama’s reputation, the Times published a Rudoren story to the effect that the greatest problem between Israel and the Palestinians was Netanyahu’s settlement policy.

If you were wondering why the Times has been losing readership, and in particular why it has been losing Jewish readers, these stories will help you to understand.

If it is not enough of a hint, read the Times news analysis, also from this morning:

Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to return to power. But there was a cloud over his apparent turnaround, the result of an increasingly shrill campaign that raised questions about his ability to heal Israel’s internal wounds or better its standing in the world.

He said there would be no Palestinian state under his watch.

He railed against Israeli Arabs — because they had gone out to vote.

Isabel Kershner continues:

But along the way he [Netanyahu] angered the president of the United States with a speech to Congress and infuriated European leaders eager to see the peace process move ahead to create a Palestinian state.

David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, said Tuesday evening on Twitter that Mr. Netanyahu’s last-minute stand against a Palestinian state might have helped ensure him another victory. “Tightness of exits in Israel suggests Bibi’s shameful 11th-hour demagoguery may have swayed enough votes to save him. But at what cost?” he wrote.

And, the Times editorial adopted the same contemptuous, sneering tone. Reading it you can see that there is no real distance between a Times news report, a Times news analysis and a Times editorial:

Israel’s election has done a lot to reveal the challenges facing the country and the intentions of the men who seek to lead it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outright rejection of a Palestinian state and his racist rant against Israeli Arab voters on Tuesday showed that he has forfeited any claim to representing all Israelis.

It continues:

Mr. Netanyahu showed that he was desperate, and craven, enough to pull out all the stops. On Monday, he promised that if his Likud faction remained in power, he would never allow the creation of a Palestinian state, thus repudiating a position he had taken in 2009.

His behavior in the past six years — aggressively building Israeli homes on land that likely would be within the bounds of a Palestinian state and never engaging seriously in negotiations — has long convinced many people that he has no interest in a peace agreement. But his statement this week laid bare his duplicity, confirmed Palestinian suspicions and will make it even harder for him to repair his poisoned relations with President Obama, who has invested heavily in pushing a two-state solution.

Evidently, the Obamaphile Times is enraged that Israeli voters did not do as they were told. One might imagine that the paper would respect the results of a democratic election. One suspects that it, like its master, President Obama, fully respected the results of the election the made Mohamed Morsi president of Egypt.

And yet, the Times, like President Obama evinces so much contempt for Israel and its prime minister that it sounds like it is purveying borderline anti-Semitism. It is not surprising that the Obama years have seen a rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses.

But, it is somewhat surprising to see the New York Times show such clear bias… especially when it knows that its reporting on Israel has been costing it Jewish readers.

When you tank your business for ideology you deserve to have it fail.


Ares Olympus said...

NOTE: For cheapskates without WSJ subscriptions, you can read their protected articles by doing a google search on the titles and clicking on the first match, while any direct links to it (like from this blog) block reading past the first paragraph.


The same google title search trick works for NYT's protections but they are more forgiving so direct links (like from this blog) do work. You just can't browse to other articles from their website.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. Here's a quote from Chomsky, Excerpted from Class Warfare, 1995, pp. 19-23, 27-31
...That's why I read the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times and Business Week. They just have to tell the truth. That's a contradiction in the mainstream press, too. Take, say, the New York Times or the Washington Post. They have dual functions and they're contradictory. One function is to subdue the great beast. But another function is to let their audience, which is an elite audience, gain a tolerably realistic picture of what's going on in the world. Otherwise, they won't be able to satisfy their own needs. That's a contradiction that runs right through the educational system as well. It's totally independent of another factor, namely just professional integrity, which a lot of people have: honesty, no matter what the external constraints are. That leads to various complexities. If you really look at the details of how the newspapers work, you find these contradictions and problems playing themselves out in complicated ways....

Dennis said...

I would suggest one of the biggest factors in Netanyahu's victory was Obama. Netanyahu can thank his lucky stars for Obama's arrogance. Instead of a 24 to 27/28 vote he got a 30 seat, some call it, landslide.
I suspect this will cause other countries to start ignoring Obama more than they have before. France is already being recalcitrant on Syria. Obama has no one to blame except himself in trying to lessen this countries status around the world. It would seem that the only status being lessened is Obama's. Given a decent president, not Hillary, we will repair well.

n.n said...

Oh, the bigotry.

Anyone who is pro-choice, who selectively promote termination of wholly innocent human lives by the millions, has forfeited their claim to represent all human beings.

Anyone who is pro-equality, who selectively exclude people and others from marrying, has forfeited their claim to represent equal rights.

Anyone who is pro-diversity, who establishes a policy that denigrates individual dignity, and classifies human beings as interchangeable, has forfeited their claim to represent human rights.

Anyone who is pro-amnesty, who support a policy that displaces and replaces (presumably to compensate for other policies, including pro-choice) Americans, and ignores the causes that motivate mass emigration from second and third world nations, and even offer an incentive for perpetuating those causes, has forfeited their claim to civil rights.


As for the Palestinians, they need to divest from their leadership, who share Obama's narcissism and delusions of grandeur, and have prevented them from coexisting with Jews, Christians, Atheists, and other Muslims.

sestamibi said...

"When you tank your business for ideology you deserve to have it fail."

Coming up next. . . Starbuck Coffee!

n.n said...


Starbucks wants to share profits with the civil rights businesses. It's not ideology. It's sound business practice. They should reclassify as non-profit, claim fair-trade to aid third-world bean farmers, and maximize their political, social, and fiscal benefits.