How Israel’s Most Prestigious Newspaper Replaced Criticism with Provocation

In an all-too-typical incident, Haaretz, Israel’s most prominent left-wing newspaper, published a column arguing that religious Zionists are a greater danger to the country than Hizballah. The article set off a predictable firestorm, garnering condemnation from Israel’s president, prime minister, and three cabinet members. Yet despite the attention the paper draws from its enemies at home and from foreign admirers, notes Shmuel Rosner, it has little relevance beyond its ability to create controversy:

The story of the people vs. Haaretz—that is, of a great number of Israelis’ growing dislike for the paper—is worth telling only because it tells us something about Israel itself: that the country’s far left is evolving from a political position into a mental state and that the right-wing majority has not yet evolved into being a mature, self-confident public.

The result of [the hard left’s] increasingly provocative discourse is often pathetic, at times comical, and occasionally worrying. Haaretz irks the majority of Israelis by giving voice to preposterous descriptions of what Israel is or does (“fascism,” “apartheid”), and the majority and its leaders never fail to take the bait and fly into a rage. It is a childish game and, in the long run, Israel loses. Its quality newspaper of coherent dissent, necessary in a pluralistic society, has become a platform for juvenile contrarianism. Its left-wing opposition, to which Haaretz gives voice, has become synonymous with needless antagonism; public debate has been made blunter and less constructive; the public is angrier and less tolerant of dissent.

Tempting as it is, the story of the people vs. Haaretz is not a story of a country whose public is no longer willing to tolerate debate. It is a story about a group within Israel that is losing its ability to communicate with the rest of society and to have any chance of influencing its future. It is a story about a group within Israel that finds its relief in provoking the rest of us until we snap.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Haaretz, Israel & Zionism, Israeli left, Israeli media, Israeli politics

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror