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Volunteer workers picking grapes and pruning vines in Bordeaux would hardly expect the world to take notice. But when 130 volunteers (Christian evangelicals, no less) come to Har Bracha, a settlement in Samaria, to help out in its winery, it became worthy of attention – indeed, extraordinary preoccupation – from The New York Times.
In an unusually lengthy July 6 article, focusing on tax-exempt donations to settlements, nearly 5000 words spilled over from the front page to fill two full inside pages. Hardly coincidentally, it appeared the morning Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled to meet in the White House with President Obama, whose opposition to settlements as “obstacles to peace” is well known.
The Times labored diligently to turn a molehill of familiar facts into a mountain of Jewish scandal. Accompanied by six photographs and a large map of Jewish “settlements” (including a Jerusalem neighborhood), three reporters explored what has been public information for years: charitable groups make tax-exempt donations to Jewish settlements.
As far back as 1997, Salon magazine published a hostile article decrying “armchair Jewish nationalists who, assisted by generous tax breaks,” funded settlements and purchased property in Jerusalem. Like Salon, and in virtually identical language, the Times expressed its displeasure that while the American government opposes Jewish settlements the American Treasury Department helps to sustain them through “tax breaks.”
This all comes as no surprise. Any knowledgeable New York Times reader is familiar with its enduring “Jewish problem.” Publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the assimilated Jew who tightly controlled editorial policy between 1935-61 (and whose grandson is the current publisher), was terrified lest the Times be considered a “Jewish” newspaper. It persistently buried news about the Holocaust while pursuing the anti-Zionist editorial policy that expressed Sulzberger’s fervent personal views.
Since the Six-Day War, the Times has been palpably hostile to any Israeli claims to land resting on religious or historic grounds. With the Obama administration asserting that truncated Israeli borders are “vital to defusing Muslim anger at the West,” the newspaper effectively functions as his house organ.
But rarely in its obsessive coverage of Israeli settlements has the Times made so much of so little. It revealed that at least forty groups have donated more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for these communities, as by law they are entitled to do. Times reporters seem acutely uncomfortable that donors, American evangelicals and Jews alike, actually believe the territory of Judea and Samaria is “critical to Israeli security and fulfillment of biblical prophecies.”
An array of curious asides punctuates the Times story. Settlers are identified as “men with skullcaps and sidelocks, women with head coverings, and families with many children.” (They are, in a word, Jews!) “Militant” settlers, “aided by tax-deductible donations from Americans,” are likely to violently resist forcible evacuation from their homes. (Who wouldn’t?) Its reporters even managed to discover a senior Israeli military commander (surely secular) who lamented that donations went to “a radical religious academy whose director has urged soldiers to defy orders to evict settlers.”
In the settlement of Yitzhar, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of the Od Yosef Chai synagogue seems suspect for his “strong views.” Plaques inside his synagogue even thank American donors. Shocking! Curiously, the only reference in the article to biblical Judea and Samaria as a promised land comes from a Palestinian Arab: “It is not the Promised Land. It is our Land.”
As it frequently does when it reports on Jewish settlers, the Times ran a revealing photograph that subverted its own allegations. Prominently displayed on the front page, it showed the Lavi family of Har Bracha, owners of a vineyard. Six family members were dancing exuberantly on a hilltop rock. None wore skullcaps or head coverings, although there did seem to be a handful of children.
Surely intended to reinforce its denigration of settlers as illegal trespassers, the photo challenged the imputation that they squat on inhabited “Palestinian” land. A broad expanse of empty landscape extended to the far horizon. No Palestinian towns, villages, homes or tended fields were visible. Many other Jewish settlements, though not all, are similarly situated.
Hostile critics of Israel, such as the Obama administration and The New York Times, are inclined to bundle settlements in Judea and Samaria with neighborhoods in Jerusalem (including the Old City), the better to challenge the legitimacy of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state. The Times devoted more than half a column to the fund-raising activities of The Jerusalem Reclamation Project/American Friends of Ateret Cohanim. With generous donations from Dr. Irving Moscowitz (who was also prominently featured in the Salon article), it has purchased property in the Old City and East Jerusalem for homes and yeshivas. To be sure, Jews had lived in some of these neighborhoods before Arabs expelled them.
About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.
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Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning
Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.
He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.
Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.
Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed
Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.
Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?
To defeat parasites-the hosts of terrorists-we need to deny them new people, potential terrorists
Combating Amalek doesn’t mean all who disagree with you is evil-rather whom to follow and to oppose
Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.
During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.
In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
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