Jerusalem Post op-ed calls New Yorker editor ‘anti-Israel’

By publishing an op-ed whose sole purpose is to demonize the editor of The New Yorker, the Jerusalem Post is positioning itself in direct odds with liberal values – not to mention  journalistic integrity.

The Jerusalem Post ran an op-ed yesterday (Monday) by a writer and attorney from Washington, D.C. explaining why he is canceling his 50-year subscription to the New Yorker magazine. The poorly-argued and belligerent article directly implicates the magazine’s editor of 14 years, David Remnick, for being “unabashedly anti-Israel,” and personally attacks him as being unfit for the job and its salary since his “only previous editorial experience was at his high school newspaper.”

I guess the writer did not want to mention Remnick’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the fall of the Soviet Union when he was still a Washington Post correspondent, or his award for excellence in journalism, or his Editor of the Year award from 2000.

Instead he claims that Remnick went on a “diatribe” against Israel in his March 12 “Talk of the Town” article  because he merely pointed out what former Israeli prime ministers, American Jewish figures and the entire international community have already admitted: that Israel’s 45-year occupation is at odds with its democratic character, threatening it from within, and that if it does not change its policies it will become an apartheid state. According to the writer’s logic, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert must thus also be “anti-Israel” for pointing out that Israeli policies conflict with democratic behavior.

He also attacks a Hendrick Hertzberg column from almost a year ago (directly implicating Remnick, who hired him to write regularly for the magazine) for calling the prime minister “Netanyahoo.” However, the writer clearly did not actually read the short piece, since this was not Hertzberg’s term but rather a quote from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who tweeted that he was “waiting for Netanyahoo” in the House Chamber to address Congress.  I guess that senator must be “anti-Israel” as well.

I could go on and on about the baselessness of the article, but suffice it to say, it is not fit to be printed in any self-respected newspaper. If you are interested, look yourself. Normally I wouldn’t bother to address an article of such poor caliber – but I believe it is worth noting since it perfectly illustrates the pathetic battle being waged by people and entities who relentlessly insist on being the authority over the definition of “pro-Israel,” but increasingly have little to no substance to their arguments – and instead attack others.

Figures like David Remnick, Peter Beinart and many other American Jews have been feeling a deep conflict between Israeli policies and their core liberal values, some for a long time. It is only in recent years that an increasing number of them have felt confident and frustrated enough to express it openly.

And no matter how many other countries commit human rights violations or struggle with their democratic record, it does not change the fact that Israel is continuing to act reprehensibly, or make it any less problematic. As long as Israel expects Jews to support it, and as long as the United States continues to unconditionally support Israel, no one should be surprised that the editor of the New Yorker chooses to allocate a few articles per year on the matter. In fact, if anything it shows disproportionate care for Israel and the future of the Jewish people, not an aversion to them.

I am not surprised that an American Jewish writer had the nerve to accuse David Remnick of a diatribe against Israel and to attack him for using “valuable New Yorker real estate” on such “trivial matters” as a grownup Orthodox man spitting on a schoolgirl. I am however appalled that the most widely-read English language Jewish newspaper in the world chooses to publish it – and by doing so positions itself squarely in the Israeli government propaganda machine, which is certainly not lacking hard working members.

This is not the first time the Jerusalem Post has aligned itself directly with a rightwing agenda or with belligerent acts aimed at silencing open dialogue about Israel, as was the case when one of its correspondents served as the mouthpiece for NGO Monitor’s attack on one of our donors, claiming we too are anti-Israel.

Especially considering a recent cartoon in the magazine showing Moses parting the Red Sea and some Israelites behind him commenting that they like him but just wish he could “be a little more pro-Israel,” I personally couldn’t be a happier subscriber.