If the New York Times Opinion section were to host an online debate about, for example, income inequality in America, there is no chance editors would include two avowed communists among the five total debaters.
But when it comes to Israel, the rules tend to be different. So in the newspaper’s online debate about what a rightward shift might mean for the Israel, two of five participants selected by editors are not just virulent critics of the Jewish state, but also opponents of its continued existence. (The promotion of opponents of Israel’s existence is something of a bad habit at The New York Times.)
The results were predictable. Both Diana Buttu and Max Blumenthal did what they always do, and the only thing an opinion editor could have expected them to do: Bash Israel, banish nuance, and brandish their tireless hatred.
“Whoever wins these elections and whatever the composition of the next government, the same situation will prevail,” Buttu insists. “Israel will continue to steal our land, demolish our homes, strip us of our rights and demand our loyalty and subservience to a system and society that seek to oust us.” And according to Blumenthal, “If a shift is underway in Israeli politics, it is primarily tonal. Israel’s rightists intend to carry on the Zionist project as originally conceived, but without the pretense of democracy.”
In other words, nothing will happen if Israel drifts rightward or shifts leftward or settles in the center (though in Buttu’s simple world “there are no ‘centrists’ in Israel”). That’s because evil is baked into the country, and Israel’s evil is all that matters.
Moreover, Buttu insists, there should be no peace process. Palestinians shouldn’t negotiate with Israel. And if Israel doesn’t unilaterally dissolve itself, if the Jewish people aren’t open to the possibility that they would once again be a minority everywhere, including in its homeland, let there be blood. The world “should not be surprised when Palestinians lash out against their oppressor, just as other oppressed communities have done around the world,” Buttu explains.
A second error, too, was fixed — though readers might not know it, because for this one there was no formal correction. Blumenthal had claimed a proposed “Jewish State” law backed by the Israeli prime minister “will make ‘Jewish tradition’ and ‘the prophets of Israel’ a primary source of legal and judicial authority.” Editors surreptitiously changed the text so that it stated that “Some versions” of the bill referred to Jewish tradition and the prophets of Israel as sources, but not “primary” sources, of legal authority.
Blumenthal claims the Israeli public is “fiercely opposed to a Palestinian state.” Again, the primary source for the claim fails to say as much. (The poll he cites found opposition to a Palestinian state with certain borders, lacking specific security arrangements, or leading to the division of Jerusalem. But a separate poll conducted just a few months earlier found that a majority of Israelis back the idea of a negotiated Palestinian state. Numerous other polls have reached similar conclusions.)
Blumenthal also asserts that Israel “expelled some 750,000 Palestinians in order to establish Israel’s Jewish majority.” But yet again, his own link says otherwise. The anti-Israel web page cited by Blumenthal asserts that the 750,000 Palestinians either “fled in panic” or “were forcibly expelled,” and estimates that 375,000 fit in the latter category.