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Media Analyses





Haaretz, Al Jazeera Go Racist


Try to guess which bygone publication, during which bigoted epoch, published the following description of a dark‑skinned man:

Ophir was a young, darkish security man, perhaps a descendant of converts from the Arabian Peninsula, perhaps from the Atlas Mountains. But one thing was clear, his black color looked very shabby, tattered and stained with evil.

If you guessed Haaretz, 2014, congratulations, you’re right.
 
On June 5, the small Israeli daily published an opinion piece by Salman Masalha, an Arab citizen of Israel, in which that horrifying example of racism appeared ("Israeli apartheid exposed at the airport").

The rest of the piece was nearly as crass and base, and charged that because of Israel’s evil the country has "no right to exist." (Yes, evil. Masalha turned to that word to describe Israel four times in his short piece.) All this because he was briefly questioned a second time at the Ben Gurion airport (and, of course, because he didn’t like the "darkish" look of one of the security officials).

Even for Haaretz, which is hardly known for nuanced and sober opinion pieces, it is shocking that the article made it past editors’ desks.

Here are the key passages about how Israel is an "apartheid regime" and thus "has no right to exist in the world with pretenses of being moral":

The following story isn’t a figment of my feverish brain. The young man who received me at Ben-Gurion Airport apparently forgot for a moment his superiors’ secret orders and acted like a human being. He looked at my Israeli passport, the only one I have, asked the usual dumb-ass questions — Where do you live? Did you pack for yourself? Did anyone give you anything? etc. I too gave for the umpteenth time the usual answers.

He tied a sticker to my suitcase and said, "Pleasant flight." I thought, Something has indeed shifted in the rotten state of Israel. But that thought didn’t last long.

Ten minutes later, while I stood at the airline’s check-in line, a man and woman approached me with another question: "Is the home address you gave on French Hill?" "No," I said, explaining to them that it’s another Jerusalem neighborhood. They nodded their little heads and disappeared. Soon, they reappeared, this time with the reinforcement of a muscular man who carried himself like a senior security figure.

The muscle, named Ophir, must have thought that the leader of some terror organization had fallen into his hands and that maybe he’d get to expose him and rise in the ranks of nagging and hassling, the sacred "Jewish-democratic" work from the school of Zionism’s racists.

How long have you been living in Jerusalem? Where did you live before that? and Where are you from originally?" he asked, along with other questions.

Ophir was a young, darkish security man, perhaps a descendant of converts from the Arabian Peninsula, perhaps from the Atlas Mountains. But one thing was clear, his black color looked very shabby, tattered and stained with evil.

When reporter Jeffrey Goldberg on Twitter described the piece as a "crazed presentation," Haaretz writer Anshel Pfeffer defensively charged him with joining "the club of those who think Haaretz is Israel's worst enemy." When Goldberg, trying to stay on topic, pressed Pfeffer on the anti‑black racism, the Haaretz journalist would not speak out against the bigotry, because he didn’t want to "give all the Haaretz-bashing club satisfaction."

"I keep my condemnations in house - there r enough racists on the left and the right who hate Haaretz, I won't give them ammo," Pfeffer continued.

The irony is stunning. Haaretz, of course, does not keep "in house" its anti‑Israel activism, which too often amounts to falsity. In fact, it often provides foreign audiences – those who most need accurate and contextualized reporting about Israel and who, unlike many Israelis, probably don’t easily recognize dishonest reporting – with translations from Hebrew to English that are doubly exaggerated and twisted. (See our exposé of this practice, "Haaretz Lost in Translation.")

One Haaretz journalist confronted about the piece on Twitter declined to publicly criticize the racist passage, saying that he refused to give "ammo" to critics who "hate Haaretz." Presumably he doesn’t feel the same about Haaretz’s role as the go-to publication for international campaigns against Israel and its right to exist.

Meanwhile, at Al Jazeera English, the broadcaster’s senior political analyst instructed a Jewish journalist to show some "Jewish humility" when talking to him. The anti-Jewish outburst surely won’t help Al Jazeera’s mission to convince the Western world that it is a fair-minded and reliable news source.
 
In reaction to this slur, tweeted by Marwan Bishara and directed at Jeffrey Goldberg (about a matter unrelated to the Haaretz exchange described above), actress and activist Mia Farrow said perhaps said all that can be said: "Whoa."
 
We’d add that it’s worth remembering, and reminding others, that so long as its journalists look down on and openly disparage Jews, Al Jazeera cannot be considered a serious, reputable news organization.

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