David Hazony is actually too kind to “Israel’s paper of record,” Haaretz, when in an earlier post he says one of its editorials exposes the paper’s “severe disconnect with the Israeli public.” Haaretz is not disconnected; rather, it is connected—fiercely so—to its vision of what Israel should be.
Two recent stories serve as perfect examples. First, an op-ed column by Tom Segev on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations vote to partition Palestine into two states—one Jewish and one Arab. Segev is one of Israel’s preeminent historians and a regular Haaretz contributor. On this occasion, rather than express any sense of celebration, gratitude, or even mild happiness that the UN voted in favor of a Jewish State, Segev decides to question the legitimacy of his own country. “With every settler who moves to the territories and with every Palestinian child who is killed by Israel Defense Forces fire, Israel loses some of the moral justification that led to the decision on the 29th of November 60 years ago,” Segev explains. The editors of Haaretz publish such opinions—and worse—on a daily basis.
But Haaretz’s ideological crusade is not limited to the editorial or opinion pages. Its editors are only too happy to publish defamatory feature stories as well. On November 30, the weekend section of Haaretz (the equivalent of the New York Times’s Sunday Magazine) featured a cover story on the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem think tank that, incidentally, used to employ Mr. Hazony. A shorter English version of the article is available here. So egregious were the mistakes and so blatant the inaccuracies that the Shalem Center posted the following response on its own Web site. Haaretz has thus far issued no correction nor has it provided space to rebut the claims made in its original article. And for good reason: The sole purpose of the story is to disparage a think-tank whose world-view the editors of Haaretz oppose. But instead of a feature analyzing the center’s stated beliefs versus its accomplishments, or even questioning the legitimacy of Shalem’s Zionist mission, the story deals in gossip, supposed improprieties, and the personal habits and salaries of Shalem’s founders. This is worth 4,500 words? It is when your goal is to defame an organization whose success you envy and whose vision you loathe.
Haaretz is often described as Israel’s New York Times, and when it comes to ideological crusading, the two papers do resemble one another. Except that the New York Times doesn’t stoop this low.