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All in the family


In a previous post I alluded to how people in media with a certain interest are neglectful of trends that are staring them in the face when those trends don’t suit their agendas, such as advancing the notion that one group of people has invested in it all the anti-social behavior and negative traits are the worse while ignoring the very same inclinations in other groups.   Here is an article written by Alison Weir that states that case far better than I could.

Recent exposés revealing that Ethan Bronner, the New York Times’ Israel-Palestine bureau chief, has a son in the Israeli military have caused a storm of controversy that continues to swirl and generate further revelations.

Many people find such a sign of family partisanship in an editor covering a foreign conflict troubling – especially given the Times’ record of Israel-centric journalism.

Times management at first refused to confirm Bronner’s situation, then refused to comment on it. Finally, public outcry forced Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt to confront the problem in a February 7th column.

After bending over backwards to praise the institution that employs him, Hoyt ultimately opined that Bronner should be re-assigned to a different sphere of reporting to avoid the “appearance” of bias. Times Editor Bill Keller declined to do so, however, instead writing a column calling Bronner’s connections to Israel valuable because they “supply a measure of sophistication about Israel and its adversaries that someone with no connections would lack.”

If such “sophistication” is valuable, the Times’ espoused commitment to the “impartiality and neutrality of the company’s newsrooms” would seem to require it to have a balancing editor equally sophisticated about Palestine and its adversary, but Keller did not address that.

Bronner is far from alone

As it turns out, Bronner’s ties to the Israeli military are not the rarity one might expect.

• A previous Times bureau chief, Joel Greenberg, before he was bureau chief but after he was already publishing in the Times from Israel, actually served in the Israeli army.

• Media pundit and Atlantic staffer Jeffrey Goldberg also served in the Israeli military; it’s unclear when, how, or even if his military service ended.

• Richard Chesnoff, who has been covering Mideast events for more than 40 years, had a son serving in the Israeli military while Chesnoff covered Israel as US News & World Report’s senior foreign correspondent.

• NPR’s Linda Gradstein’s husband was an Israeli sniper and may still be in the Israeli reserves. NPR refuses to disclose whether Gradstein herself is also an Israeli citizen, as are her children and husband.

• Mitch Weinstock, national editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune, served in the Israeli military.

• The New York Times’ other correspondent from the region, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen. Israel has universal compulsory military service, which suggests that Kershner herself and/or family members may have military connections. The Times refuses to answer questions about whether she and/or family members have served or are currently serving in the Israeli military. Is it possible that Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira herself has such connections? The Times refuses to answer.

• Many Associated Press writers and editors are Israeli citizens or have Israeli families. AP will not reveal how many of the journalists in its control bureau for the region currently serve in the Israeli military, how many have served in the past, and how many have family members with this connection.

• Similarly, many TV correspondents such as Martin Fletcher have been Israeli citizens and/or have Israeli families. Do they have family connections to the Israeli military?

• Time Magazine’s bureau chief several years ago became an Israeli citizen after he had assumed his post. Does he have relatives in the military?

• CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, while not an Israeli citizen, was based in Israel for many years, wrote a book whitewashing Israeli spying on the US, and used to work for the Israel lobby in the US. None of this is divulged to CNN viewers.

Tikkun’s editor Michael Lerner has a son who served in the Israeli military. While Lerner has been a strong critic of many Israeli policies, in an interview with Jewish Week, Lerner explains:

“Having a son in the Israeli army was a manifestation of my love for Israel, and I assume that having a son in the Israeli army is a manifestation of Bronner’s love of Israel.”

Lerner goes on to make a fundamental point:

“…there is a difference in my emotional and spiritual connection to these two sides [Israelis and Palestinians]. On the one side is my family; on the other side are decent human beings. I want to support human beings all over the planet but I have a special connection to my family. I don’t deny it.”

For a great many of the reporters and editors determining what Americans learn about Israel-Palestine, Israel is family.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth, writes of a recent meeting with a Jerusalem based bureau chief, who explained: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cooks writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

Apparently, intimate ties to Israel are among the many open secrets in the region that are hidden from the American public. If, as the news media insist, these ties present no problem or even, as the Times’ Keller insists, enhance the journalists’ work, why do the news agencies consistently refuse to admit them?

The reason is not complicated.

While Israel may be family for these journalists and editors, for the vast majority of Americans, Israel is a foreign country. In survey after survey, Americans say they don’t wish to “take sides” on this conflict. In other words, the American public wants full, unfiltered, unslanted coverage.

Quite likely the news media refuse to answer questions about their journalists’ affiliations because they suspect, accurately, that the public would be displeased to learn that the reporters and editors charged with supplying news on a foreign nation and conflict are, in fact, partisans.

While Keller claims that the New York Times is covering this conflict “even-handedly,” studies indicate otherwise:

* The Times covers international reports documenting Israeli human rights abuses at a rate 19 times lower than it reports on the far smaller number of international reports documenting Palestinian human rights abuses.

* The Times covers Israeli children’s deaths at rates seven times greater than they cover Palestinian children’s deaths, even though there are vastly more of the latter and they occurred first.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that Israel’s Jewish-only colonies on confiscated Palestinian Christian and Muslim land are illegal; that its collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women, and children in Gaza is not only cruel and ruthless, it is also illegal; and that its use of American weaponry is routinely in violation of American laws.

* The Times covers the one Israeli (a soldier) held by Palestinians at a rate incalculably higher than it reports on the Palestinian men, women, and children – the vast majority civilians – imprisoned by Israel (currently over 7,000).

• The Times neglects to report that hundreds of Israel’s captives have never even been charged with a crime and that those who have were tried in Israeli military courts under an array of bizarre military statutes that make even the planting of onions without a permit a criminal offense – a legal system, if one can call it that, that changes at the whim of the current military governor ruling over a subject population; a system in which parents are without power to protect their children.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that 40 percent of Palestinian males have been imprisoned by Israel, a statistic that normally would be considered highly newsworthy, but that Bronner, Kershner, and Chira apparently feel is unimportant to report.

Americans, whose elected representatives give Israel uniquely gargantuan sums of our tax money (a situation also not covered by the media), want and need all the facts, not just those that Israel’s family members decree reportable.

We’re not getting them.

Israel’s free fall descent into chaos


It’s not a pretty sight, and there are still years to go before Israel hits rock bottom and it’s people scattered, once again, into the Diaspora, despite their ‘never again’ cries; what precipitated it all was the enabling done by Israel’s allies.  We just couldn’t say no to them at all.  We didn’t even say no once, and like most other spoiled children who always get their way, Israel has become a sociopath nation without boundaries that wanders around looking for prey to attack so that it can call itself a victim.

It’s not enough that we’ve seen and heard the racist diatribe spew from the mouths of their youth, no doubt picked up at the dinner table from their parents.  Or that the average Israeli intimidates, bullies, assaults and defames all those who even  remotely disagree with them about the slightest little thing.   Or that they continuously violate international law and treaties regarding the occupied territories.  (Why is there any discussion about a two state solution, when that is the ONLY alternative since 1948?)  Now comes word that even Israeli politicians have drunk the Kool-Aide and are dangerously close to becoming psychotic and international pariahs.

First off, look at what this Likud party member says about what the Israeli relationship should be with the US.  Before you go and say this guy is the fringe, guess again.  Some say he’s the left leaning side of Likud, but what really caught my attention is he is a cabinet  member  without portfolio……the same designation and party of one Ariel Sharon after the disaster in Lebanon, called Sabra and Shatilla,  so many years ago.

In the 11-page letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post from a minister on Monday, Peled recommends steps Israel can take to compensate for the shift in American policy, which he believes has become hostile to Israel.

“Obama’s ascendance represents a turning point in America’s approach to the region, especially to Israel,” he wrote in the letter. “The new administration believes that in order to fight terror, guarantee stability and withdraw from Iraq, a new diplomatic slant is needed involving drastic steps to pacify the Muslim world and the adoption of a more balanced approach to Israel, including intensive pressure to stop building in settlements, remove outposts and advance the formation of a Palestinian state.”

Peled added that faced with an American government with an activist agenda that does not mesh with Israel’s, traditional reactions are no longer relevant. He said he expected that Obama would eventually realize that appeasement and dialogue with countries that support terror would not have positive results.

But in the interim, the minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that the Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.

Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America’s competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.

In what may be his most controversial suggestion, Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama and asking American Jewish donors not to contribute to Democratic congressional candidates. He predicted that this would result in Democratic candidates pressuring Obama to become more pro-Israel.

Peled called for the formation of a new body intended to influence American public opinion. The groups he suggests courting include Hispanic Americans and Labor unions in industries that benefit from Israeli military acquisitions.

I would like to see Israel boycott American military hardware, and the American dollars they are given to buy that hardware.  Unfortunately, Mr. Peled thinks he is entitled to the latter and too many in American government agree with him.  I also note the centuries old conflict still being played out in the halls of political zionism which seeks to associate Islam with extremism in order to reduce its exposure to a western audience.  As you can see there’s a lot wrong with his wish list, but the one thing I find most egregious is his apparent attempt to use one group of Americans against another, a dressed up form of divide and conquer, to incite a race/class war or divide in the American body politic.  Does anyone else see something wrong with that?  American history is full of the struggle this country has gone through in accommodating, many times very poorly, the different races and ethnically diverse groups  on our shores, and with great human sacrifice; for someone to say that is worth exploiting for another country’s benefit is akin to sedition.  I hope Mr. Peled is on the Homeland Security Department’s no fly list because he should never step foot on American soil with that idea in mind.  The rest of the article is full of political zionist angst and sadly pathetic, but worth the read, in my opinion.

Meanwhile Benjamin Netanyahu has also joined the ranks of the “brain damaged” with his rant about self-hating American Jews.  You know where he’s going with that right?  Miscellany101 already mentioned how many Israelis expect American Jews to be subservient to Israeli interests even when they are at odds with American interests, and if they aren’t well then they get labeled the next worse label after anti-semite that political zionists can hurl at them, which is self-hating!

Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office. Two months after his visit to Washington, he is still finding it difficult to communication normally with the White House. To appreciate the depth of his paranoia, it is enough to hear how he refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s senior aides: as “self-hating Jews.”


Notice the reference to the lack of mental stability and this is who the Israelis voted for just six short months or so ago, which suggests to me a national sickness or mental illness. The bunker like mentality of Netanyahu is also a throwback to, and here it comes y’all, the days of Hitler, hunkering down in his bunker/tomb with the illusion of running a country that was in reality falling down around him. The falling down part is not what’s happening to Israel at the moment….it’s too early for that to happen, but the process has started and we who have said “yes” too often are to blame. One can only hope that as Israel continues its free fall, her  enablers don’t go down with the ship.