Is there no limit to the anti-Palestinian racism of The New York Times ?

Michael F. Brown

The Electronic Intifada  /  May 8, 2020

The New York Times ran an op-ed Thursday by Daniel Pipes, one of the leading inciters of anti-Muslim hatred in the United States and a notorious anti-Palestinian demagogue.

What else is new?

Editorial page editor James Bennet has previously contemplated providing space for neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.

He hasn’t, in part because of Spencer’s “poisonous point of view,” but also because his racist movement to turn parts of America into a whites-only ethnostate isn’t yet big enough.

Should Nazism gain more support, Spencer – or some new fanatic – may well be welcomed onto the pages of the newspaper of record.

Anti-Palestinian racism has, however, passed both the poisonous view and popularity hurdles for Bennet.

Consequently, Pipes, who heads the far-right think tank Middle East Forum, was at liberty to inveigh against Palestinians.

In an article laced with his usual contempt for them, Pipes argued against Israel annexing parts of the West Bank because that could one day make Palestinians eligible for the rights of citizenship.

“Arab citizens constitute what I believe is the ultimate enemy of Israel’s status as a Jewish state,” Pipes declared.

It is this fear and hatred of Palestinian babies and bodies that drives anti-Palestinian zealots like Pipes, as well as both right-wing and liberal Zionists like Bret Stephens and Bari Weissboth of whom started in April 2017 for Bennet’s opinion page.

Their sentiment is identical to that of whites who opposed granting the vote to Black Americans, or whites who opposed the end of apartheid in South Africa, because they did not want to give up white power.

But in this instance, Bennet, who has been asked for an explanation by The Electronic Intifada, may have determined that Pipes – with his in your face anti-Palestinian racism – can get through to President Donald Trump in opposition to annexation where the soft bigotry of The New York Times is insufficient.

Liberal Zionists still believe in a Jewish state that grants special and better rights to Israeli Jews than to Palestinians.

But they have lost the argument among Zionists that the best way to achieve this is through ethnic separation in the form of a two-state solution.

Pipes is now a means to an end: soft Zionist bastions like The New York Times op-ed page will tolerate his toxic anti-Palestinian incitement as long as he can be recruited in the cause of protecting the Zionist dream of an exclusivist Jewish state.

What has tended to concern liberal Zionists is not Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights as such, but that these violations take place in a framework that they feel can be defended. In their eyes, the two-state solution offered such a framework, and Israel’s plans to annex West Bank territory blow that out of the water.

The pretense that the apartheid reality Palestinians live under is temporary, pending the conclusion of a never-ending “peace process,” will be gone for good. It will be replaced by de jure apartheid that liberal Zionists will not be able to explain away.

The impunity that Israel enjoys today, from both the Democratic and Republican establishments in the US, as well as the European Union, may fracture under growing grassroots pressure for Israel to face consequences. Both Pipes and Bennet are alarmed that annexation would “alienate and weaken Israel’s diminishing number of friends in the Democratic Party.”

Bennet answers his uncertainty

Giving space for anti-Palestinian racism of this sort is not new for the newspaper or for Bennet.

He crossed that line to his satisfaction in 2017 when he published Yishai Fleisher, an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Fleisher seized the opportunity to advocate ethnic cleansing. He tried to clean up the ugly idea by suggesting “generous compensation” for Palestinians to “emigrate voluntarily.”

Fleisher also floated the option of residency without voting rights or citizenship only for those Palestinians willing to “pledge allegiance to the Jewish state.” No matter how euphemistically this is described, it amounts to subjecting the indigenous people of the country to racial subjugation by colonial settlers.

Bennet raised the subject of Fleisher and Spencer with New York Times employees in December 2017 in an internal discussion, details of which were leaked to HuffPost.

He transitioned directly from a defense of the Fleisher op-ed to musing about a potential piece by Spencer.

Intellectually, Bennet must know it’s a short leap from one bigot to the other. Yet Fleisher is legitimate in Bennet’s eyes by the very success of the bigotry he espouses within Israel, while Spencer is held at bay – for now – apparently not just by the ugliness of his view but by his uncertain success.

Bennet said he and his colleagues had a “real debate about whether [the Fleisher] piece was crossing a line.” They considered whether it was denying “personhood to the Palestinians” and if it might be a form of “hate speech.”

But Bennet felt in Fleisher’s case, “this particular viewpoint is hugely consequential” as it “actually is creating reality on the ground.”

He justified the stance by saying, “to think that we were legitimating that point of view by having it in our pages” or telling “ourselves that we were somehow changing the reality by not allowing it into our pages seems to me to be deluded a little bit.” He argued that our readers “need to confront these arguments.”

This raises the obvious question of why the newspaper doesn’t think it necessary to regularly “confront” its readers with the views and experiences of Palestinians – which, though not entirely excluded, are vanishingly rare.

Does Bennet think so little of his readers as to suppose they are more interested in the views of bigots than of those trying to fend them off?

The newspaper’s op-ed page is swimming in anti-Palestinian racism.

It’s easier to get published there with vile anti-Palestinian sentiment and assertions of support for an exclusivist Jewish state than to argue for equal rights for Jews and Palestinians within the one-state reality that already exists.

Pipes’ viewpoint is nothing new. His voice is just the latest extension of the bigotry playing out on that op-ed page for years.

And it’s an indication that rather than getting any better, the anti-Palestinian racism of The New York Times is growing ever more extreme.

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune,, The San Diego Union-TribuneThe News & ObserverThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionThe Washington Post and elsewhere.