If you were to hook up Israel’s left-wing journalists to polygraph machines and inject them with rivers of truth serum, you would no doubt find that many are more than mere ideological poseurs blankly parroting the latest bit of “progressive” dogma. A substantial number really do believe the myth that Israel is a nation of racist imperialists who ruthlessly robbed the Palestinians of their ancient homeland.
The truest of the true believers is Amira Hass, who writes for Ha’aretz, the Israeli daily so intrinsically hostile to anything authentically Jewish that the essayist Boris Shusteff has labeled as “Ha’aretz Jews” those in Israel “who do not understand the Jewish religion, traditions, culture and history [and] are trying to reinvent the wheel by turning their backs on their own people.”
Unlike her fellow Israeli leftists who satisfy the dark places in their souls by vilifying their country and countrymen from deep inside the Green Line, less than a stone’s throw from the faux Eurotrash atmosphere of their favorite Tel Aviv nightspots, Hass chooses to live among Palestinians, the people whose cause she champions as her own.
For the past five years Hass, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, has made her home in the Palestinian town of Ramallah, a locale that any normal Jew would consider one of the most inhospitable on earth. Before moving to Ramallah she spent three years living in Gaza, an experience she recounted in loving detail in her memoir Drinking the Sea at Gaza.
Far from harboring the slightest worry for her safety, Hass basks in the warm welcome she says the Palestinians have extended her. “The longer I live [among the Palestinians], the more secure I feel,” she once told a reporter from Le Monde.
Why, even those seemingly fearsome fundamentalist types can be so gosh darn neighborly. Here is Hass’s fond memory of an encounter with a man who, without blinking, would countenance the killing of Jewish babies: “In 1994 I got my first interview with Islamic leader Hani Abed. We got in a taxi and he said, ‘Did you ever imagine you would sit next to a Hamas leader one day?’ And I told him: ‘And you, will you tell your wife that you sat next to another woman, an Israeli, and an atheist to boot?’ He laughed.”
And why shouldn’t he laugh? Palestinians like Abed are shrewd enough to recognize the value of having such a useful idiot in their midst, particularly one whose dispatches are so eagerly devoured by the Israeli artists and intellectuals who weep daily over the Palestinian tragedy (but who would never follow the logical course of their sympathies, which would necessitate turning over their villas and condos to Palestinian families and promptly leaving the country they believe their colonialist fathers stole from its rightful occupants).
When two Israeli reservists were brutally lynched by Palestinians in Ramallah last October, three weeks into the renewed intifada, a Palestinian Authority official suggested that Hass leave town until the situation cooled off. Hass said she preferred to stay in Ramallah, and proceeded to file a story that betrayed not a whit of sympathy for the murdered Israelis.
“The bloodbath that has been going on for three weeks is the natural outcome of seven years of [Israeli] lying and deception,” she wrote in Ha’aretz, in an article castigating Israeli leaders who, Hass complained, “are still unable to heed the voice of the Palestinian nation.”
Given Hass’s history, it came as no surprise when the Monitor visited the Times’s website last Sunday (why plunk down hard-earned cash for the print edition?) and spotted a typically strident Op-Ed piece, titled “Separate and Unequal on the West Bank,” carrying her byline.
Tendentious, one-sided and replete with historical inaccuracies – “Shouldn’t The New York Times have checked [her] basic facts before publishing anti-Israel slander?” asked the watchdog website HonestReporting.com – the article nevertheless elicited just the slightest bit of grudging admiration. This, it must be conceded, is a skilled, battle-honed propagandist at work.
How skilled a propagandist? You could say that Amira Hass is everything that former Times Jerusalem bureau chief Deborah Sontag wants to be when she grows up.
Jason Maoz can be reached at email@example.com