’60 Minutes’ says Israeli pilots who kill Palestinian children are ‘moral’ defenders of ‘democracy’

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  September 18, 2023

The heroes of “60 Minutes” report on Israeli protests were reservists refusing to serve. “If you want pilots to be able to fly and shoot bombs and missiles into houses knowing they might be killing children, they must have the strongest confidence in the people making those decisions,” says a helicopter pilot.

Israeli helicopter pilots who shoot missiles into Palestinian homes killing children are acting with “moral values,” and in the name of “democracy,” according to a “60 Minutes” segment on Israel’s anti-Netanyahu protests that aired last night.

The heroes of Lesley Stahl’s CBS News report from Israel were four Israeli reservists who are taking part in the “democracy” protests and refusing to serve under Netanyahu’s far-right government. They explained that they no longer trust the morality of their leaders:

Shira Eting: I was a combat helicopter pilot…. If you want pilots to be able to fly and shoot bombs and missiles into houses knowing they might be killing children, they must have the strongest confidence in the people making those decisions.

Ron Scherf [Commander in the special forces]: In the moral values of them.

Shira Eting: Exactly.

Stahl did nothing to push back against the claim that killing Palestinian children is a moral action.

Israel has killed hundreds of children in Gaza in recent years by firing missiles at apartment buildings said to be the homes of resistance leaders. Numerous international human rights organizations have called these actions war crimes. One earlier refuser, pilot Yonatan Shapira, stopped flying such missions because his air force commander told him that Israel would never employ the same policy of “targeted assassinations” if Jewish civilians were in the apartment buildings.

Stahl’s report erased Palestinians. She asked briefly about the occupation, which has been absent from the demands of the protesters, and Eting provided this lame response:

If you wanna be able to solve the occupation one day, and I think that everyone here does, the only way to stop it and to solve it is to make sure Israel remains a democracy.

But again no pushback. No mention of the fact that countless human rights groups have found that Israel is not a democracy, it can’t be; it practices apartheid. And very few Jewish Israelis want to reverse that policy, or remove Jewish settlers from Palestinian territories.

Stahl made no mention of murderous statements directed at Palestinians by Netanyahu ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. Yes, Stahl described them as racist, but offered no report on their effects on actual Palestinians, who are dying across the West Bank as Israel expands settlements at a record pace.

The thrust of this report was the liberal Zionist claim that Israel is no different from democracies around the world, threatened by right wing demagogues. And so these children-killing pilots are heroes in that global struggle.

Omri Ronen: What happened in Hungary and Poland will not happen here.

Lesley Stahl: There is a trend and it’s going against you around the world

Shira Eting: We’ll be the first to stop it.

Lesley Stahl: (laughs) You’re all determined.

So Jewish supremacists will save democracy for the world.

The U.S. media continues to protect Israel from its own actions. The U.S. media– and reporters steeped in Zionism — continue to project a benign image of a rightwing apartheid society to the world.

P.S. The first segment of last night’s “60 Minutes” was a piece on Ukrainian resistance to occupation that implicitly defended the Ukrainians’ right to attack civilian targets inside Russia. Palestinians have never been accorded that right by our media.

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006