Mondoweiss / December 12, 2021
Amos Schocken is Israel’s equivalent of the latest Sulzberger to inherit control of The New York Times. Schocken, in his mid-70s, is the third generation of his family to run Haaretz, the most respected newspaper in Israel, and he speaks out regularly in columns and on social media.
Just the other day, Schocken called Israel “an apartheid state.” He was indignantly responding to a right-wing member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. Here’s the full quotation:
The product of Zionism, the State of Israel, is not a Jewish and democratic state, but has instead become an apartheid state, plain and simple.
Haaretz continues to be indispensable to understanding the vital truths about Israel/Palestine, truths The New York Times ignores and covers up. The latest example: yesterday’s Times has an analysis of the differences between the U.S. and Israel over the re-negotiations of the Iran nuclear deal. The article could have been ghost-written by hawks in the Israeli government. Its overall tone is sympathy with Israel, and a sense that American policymakers are naive. The report euphemistically mentions Israeli “covert strikes” and “sabotage operations” against Iran, but doesn’t give more details. Only in the final paragraph (the 23rd), does the Times acknowledge that the American CIA director, William Burns, says the U.S. “continues to believe that Iran has not made a decision to weaponize its nuclear program.”
Let’s turn to Haaretz. Start with its respected national security reporter, Amos Harel. He’s no radical, but he does know how to report and tell the full story, and he obviously has reliable sources within the Israeli military. He starts by raising doubts that Israel is even capable of a successful attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, an angle the Times ignored:
Realistically, an Israeli airstrike on Iran — an inherent topic of fierce professional debate — might have been possible a decade ago. Now, with the Israel Defense Forces only beginning to refresh the operational plans, it will probably take years before that option is given serious consideration.
Harel goes on to warn that an Israel raid would risk dangerous consequences across the Mideast, another angle the Times missed:
[There is a] risk that the attack will unleash a regional war in which the Israeli home front suffers an unprecedented onslaught by Hezbollah [Iran’s ally, the political/military movement in Lebanon]. In other words, the pistol Israel is brandishing has almost no ammunition at the moment.
Harel has the good reporter’s concern for specifics and a healthy disdain for euphemism. What the Times article called “sabotage operations” against Iran turn out to be “assassinations of nuclear scientists, explosions at nuclear sites, cyberattacks, attacks on Iranian ships, extensive airstrikes against pro-Iranian militias in Syria, and a systematic assault on convoys smuggling arms from Iran to Hezbollah. . .”
Haaretz’s truth-telling didn’t stop there. A lead editorial upbraided two top Israeli security officials for “parading a stream of arrogant, boastful threats against Iran in recent days,” and warned that the current discussion should not focus on Israel’s saber-rattling but instead on “an Iran-Israel war that could erupt following such a dangerous attack.”
A decade ago, the New Yorker’s top editor, David Remnick, published an inspiring long report about Haaretz and its publisher, Amos Schocken. Remnick quoted at length from an article Schocken himself wrote back then, which argued that “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, should be changed because “its lyrics are about only Jewish aspirations.” Schocken said:
How can an Arab citizen identify with such an anthem? Hasn’t the time come to recognize that the establishment of Israel is not just the story of the Jewish people, of Zionism, of the heroism of the Israel Defense Forces and of bereavement? That it is also the story of the reflection of Zionism and the heroism of the IDF soldiers in the lives of the Arabs: the Nakba — the Palestinian “Catastrophe” as the Arabs call the events of 1948 — the loss, the families that were split up, the disruption of lives, the property that was taken away, the life under military government and other elements of the history shared by Jews and Arabs, which are presented on Independence Day, and now only on that day, in an entirely one-sided way.