Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir are bent on extremist provocation, but you won’t learn about it in the ‘NY Times’

James North

Mondoweiss  /  December 5, 2022

The ‘NY Times’ continues to cover up dangerous truths about the 2 new far-right Jewish supremacist ministers in Israel’s next government.

Eleven days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right Jewish-supremacist, as his Minister of National Security. Netanyahu, who is putting together the next Israeli government, also announced that the Ministry would have expanded powers, especially in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The appointment prompted a firestorm of criticism within Israel. Ben-Gvir immediately got into a public dispute with the head of the Israeli military, Aviv Kochavi. Amos Harel, the security correspondent at the respected daily, Haaretz, warned that Ben-Gvir could contribute to a third intifada in the West Bank, where violence caused by Israel’s occupation and ongoing colonization is on the rise.

So for, The New York Times has reported nothing. Instead, the paper’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Patrick Kingsley, yesterday co-wrote an article about how Israeli journalists who flew to Qatar for the soccer World Cup got their feelings hurt when they encountered critics of Israel there.

The rest of the U.S. mainstream is not much better, but at least it hasn’t entirely hidden the dangerous Ben-Gvir appointment. National Public Radio reported the story on-air the next day, as did the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post took a week, but it did eventually run an article

Meanwhile, Amos Harel was explaining in Haaretz that that Ben-Gvir will make a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as he has promised. (Jewish Israelis call the area the Temple Mount, and contend that it was the site of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.; Muslims call the site the Haram-al-Sharif.) Harel quotes the mosque’s chief preacher, Ekrima Sabri, as saying that “the Palestinian people will not allow Ben-Gvir or people acting on his behalf ‘to violate the sanctity of the mosque.’”

Harel reminded his readers that the exact same provocation in September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s opposition leader, triggered the Second Intifada.

The Post article, to its credit, did not hide how dangerous the Ben-Gvir appointment is, along with the likely selection of Bezalel Smotrich, also a Jewish supremacist, to another post with security responsibility. Shira Rubin quoted Moshe Yaalon, a hardline former general and defense minister, saying:

Netanyahu, you received a mandate to form a coalition, not leave our security in the hands of arsonists who support Jewish terrorism.

What’s more, another Haaretz reporter, Yaniv Kubovich, apparently has better sources inside the U.S. government than the New York Times. U.S. officials told him that Ben-Gvir and Smotrich are planning changes in the occupied West Bank Palestine that will “be seen as racist discrimination between Jews and Palestinians,” which would be “tantamount to practicing an apartheid regime.”

Surely New York Times reporters should be able to approach their own government’s officials and get similar quotes?

So, here’s where we stand. Occupied West Bank Palestine is arguably on the verge of a Third Intifada. But instead of covering this news,

yesterday’s Times thought it was more important to report that Israeli reporters in Qatar “have been berated or ignored by local residents and Arab visitors at times, a reminder that despite the 2020 diplomatic agreements with three Arab governments, many ordinary citizens in the region still oppose closer relations with Israel.”

Picture an ordinary New York Times subscriber in the days to come. Itamar Ben-Gvir, now a government minister, marches right up to Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, at the head of a mass of snarling, violent Jewish supremacists. Widespread violence breaks out. Your New York Times reader will be completely surprised.   

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades