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From Bibi’s Lips to Ben Smith’s Ears (and Computer)

November 22, 2010

I wasn’t going to post this but I was so stunned when I read it that I thought it deserved special mention (not in a good way), particularly in light of some of the conversations we have been having in the comments about whether there is, if not outright media bias, a media blind spot when it comes to Israel and also the issue of Israel’s general treatment of the U.S. of late.

Ben Smith came out with a doozy today- it’s not really journalism, it’s really more stenography. He serves up quite an impressive anti-Obama hit piece which seems to be sponsored at least in part by the Israeli far right. Despite the title of the article being “View from Middle East: President Obama is a Problem”, a more accurate title would have been The View from Bibi Netanyahu’s Office: President Obama is the Problem. A subtle, but accurate change to reflect the true nature of the perspective of the article.

Among Ben Smith’s main sources are “Beni Begin, a cabinet minister from Netanyahu’s own Likud Party,” “a top Israeli official involved in diplomacy with the U.S.”, “a hawkish Netanyahu ally”, “Eyal Arad, the architect of Livni’s campaign for prime minister” the “deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs,” “former party chairman and Knesset ally Yohanan Plessner” and “Netanyahu’s closest adviser.” Sadly, Ben Smith wasn’t able to find more than two Palestinians in all of Jerusalem to interview. We get a quote from chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat and Ghaith al-Omari of the American Task Force on Palestine. I guess we shouldn’t complain because they could have been left out of it entirely.

The other thing Smith does which drives me nuts – and it’s something pretty much everyone in the MSM does- is they refer to the fighter jet deal with Israel as a “sale”- it’s not a sale. A sale implies they are buying the fighter jets. The media likes to reference it to the Saudi arms sale as though they are similar and they are not. The Saudis are buying the fighter jets. There is a difference- in one deal we make money and in the other deal we lose money. The only issue is apparently whether any of the funds will come out of the 3 billion in foreign aid we’ve already given Israel this year and the US is apparently leaning towards saying that this will be on top of the 3 billion.

Ok, here are a few of my favorite quotes from this hit-piece:

“Israelis really hate Obama’s guts,” said Shmuel Rosner, a columnist for two leading Israeli newspapers. “We used to trust Americans to act like Americans, and this guy is like a European leader.”

Yeah, we want a real man as POTUS, not some effeminate European-acting guy!

Now, imagine an American journalist saying that about an Israeli leader. Would never happen. Nor should it, really.

And this:

“He’s like rain,” said a top Israeli official involved in diplomacy with the U.S., speaking of Obama’s role in negotiations. “You can do all kinds of things to cope with it.”

Yeah, right back at ‘ya buddy. Again, imagine an American official speaking on the record to a journalist, even if anonymously, about an Israeli PM that way. Wouldn’t happen.

And this:

“The naive liberals who are at the heart of the administration really believe in all the misconceptions the Palestinians and all their friends all over the world are trying to place,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a former high-ranking military intelligence officer who is now deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Somewhere in Judea and Samaria right now, Bibi Netanyahu is smiling.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 7:44 pm

    “The naive liberals who are at the heart of the administration really believe in all the misconceptions the Palestinians and all their friends all over the world are trying to place,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a former high-ranking military intelligence officer who is now deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

    – Not that I agree with that statement, but gee. Why do you suppose it is that Palestinians have friends all over the world, while Israel’s government has one friend, the US??

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      November 22, 2010 8:25 pm

      “Naive liberals at the heart of the adminstration?” Just who is he talking about? Didn’t Emanuel call them “retards”?

    • Thain permalink
      November 22, 2010 9:15 pm

      Now SA, you’d better be careful or you’ll be called anti-Israel or an antisemite if you ask questions like that! 😉

      Shimon Peres announced while he was in England about a year ago that the country was the next big threat to Jews because everyone was so antisemitic. Then Israel got mad when England’s Jewish community pointed out that the statement was f*cking outrageous.

      Apparently England’s Jewish community has more balls than ours does. But that’s how Israel treats it’s friends. When the Turkish foreign minister met with Israel’s foreign ministry about 2 years ago the Israeli FM made the Turkish FM sit on an extra low couch and brought in camera crews to film and photograph him being humiliated- and that was before the flotilla incident. Yup, Turkey is one of Israel’s few key allies but hey, that Turkish guy deserved to be humiliated like that because nothing says “we care about our security” liking telling the few friends you have to go screw – and then of course turning around and playing the victim. That’s diplomacy Israel-style!

  2. Thain permalink
    November 22, 2010 9:03 pm

    Nope, no media bias here. Nothin’ to see, move along, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

    I bet the Democratic members of congress are just OUTRAGED at the disrespect shown the President and the leader of their party. I mean, Weiner, Schumer, Ackerman and all those dudes who came out and lashed out publicly at Obama when he dared to request Israel stop illegally building on land that was being negotiated about- I am so sure they will step up to the plate and be objective and tell Israel enough is enough! I mean, that’s some harsh stuff, particularly the bit about Israelis hating the President of the United States’ guts. Speaking of objective where’s that shameless self-promoter Abe Foxman? He’s too busy giving awards to the bigots over at Fox News.

    I can’t wait to hear how the apologists spin this. “Oh, there’s no media bias in favor of Israel, that’s just an anti-semitic conspiracy theory.” Yeah, and I bet the total lack of coverage of the AIPAC spy scandal (except in Israel) is just an oversight. I mean, what’s so important about a court case where one of the parties is alleging a lobbying group regularly steals classified government information and passes it to Israel? There’s certainly not a story there.

  3. November 22, 2010 9:31 pm

    Hey, while no one was looking Israel just killed the two state solution:

    The law just passed 65-33 and it was passed to ensure that even if Israel and the Palestinians agreed on the most perfect deal tomorrow, nothing could be done unless a majority of all of the Israeli public approves it via national referendum. The only way to undo that is if the Knesset passed a new law killing the referendum but based on what I”m reading, that’s very, very unlikely. And who is behind this bill? Bibi and his right wing coalition.

    It’s dead- it’s really over this time.

    I’m beginning to think, based on the outrageous behavior of Israel over these past two years, that all funding to Israel should be cut off and we should abstain on all resolutions at the UN. If they want to dick around like this, there is no reason we have to waste our time, credibility and money trying to create a long-term safety net for them. They want war with iran, war with Syria- all in the name of security but they won’t even do the most basic work to solve the crisis that is the underlying much of the conflict in the region.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      November 22, 2010 11:11 pm

      But stacy, unless there’s a more recent poll I don’t know about, a poll by Tel Aviv University’s Tami Steinmetz Center in 2009 found that 51 percent of Israeli Jews favored a two-state outcome, compared to 28 percent for the status quo and 7 percent for a binational state.

      • November 23, 2010 8:22 am

        Yes, most people say they support a 2 state solution in word but in deed? Sounds like not. Such proclamations become meaningless when they then have the caveat of “but Jerusalem should remain undivided” and add a whole bunch of other conditions, which is exactly what almost every single member of Congress says. Go back and watch AIPAC speeches over the last few years- they don’t want a two state solution.

        Israelis say they support two states but they also have support decades of continued settlement expansion of occupied land which has, in effect, rendered a real two state solution almost impossible. They also have been increasingly moving to the right politically- that was not even a close vote on that bill above.

        The purpose of this bill is to undermine all negotiations, neuter the US’ ability to put any pressure on Israel, slow things down and overly-politicize the process. Now the peace process is subject to the whims of whichever voting block has the most power (money, political clout etc.). The idea that a peace treaty involving territorial concessions would ultimately be subject to majority vote is preposterous. It also totally screws over the Palestinians in that even if they agree to a deal it can be vetoed by the Israeli public and then yet again, they will remain occupied and stateless. The settlers in Israel have tremendous political power which they use to ensure that with each passing day the Palestinians have less and less land to negotiate over.

        And lets be honest- Bibi is emboldened by all the support he gets from various constituencies in the US. He met with Eric Cantor and Chuck Schumer before meeting with Hillary the other week for a REASON. Any indication Schumer or Cantor tried to reign him in? Nope, all the evidence is to the contrary. Bibi wouldn’t pull this sh*t if he thought for one minute there would be a backlash against him from Congress or the Diaspora community. When given a choice between supporting the US-lead peace efforts or supporting the PM of Israel, most of Congress and these interest groups clearly prefer the latter.

        This is a provocation and recipe for violence in the territories. And what would the response to such violence be? Another Cast Lead with a hugely disproportionate death toll and then another round of cover-ups by the US to prevent Israel from any and all accountability for their actions. We’ve been on this merry go round before.

        I have to ask myself- what would I do in light of all of this if I were an average Palestinian on the street, losing hope every day? We send them very hypocritical, mixed messages.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        November 23, 2010 9:48 am

        Perhaps you’re right.
        I like to believe that pressures from without and within will eventually force change, especially if there is further bloodshed. If people become exhausted enough — and I’m speaking here of Israelis as well as Palestinians — the push will come. I have more faith in the people than in their leaders. I look to other examples of seemingly intractable political stalemates around the world. Who would have believed in 1988 that apartheid would be dismantled within two years? It took a stroke in 1989 to get Botha to step down; within a year de Klerk repealed discriminatory laws, lifted restrictions on the press, ended the death penalty, and negotiated the release of Mandela after 27 years in prison. Who would have believed, at the height of the violent struggles in Ireland, that Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party would one day sit in a power sharing government together as coalition partners?

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 23, 2010 12:24 am

    Interesting perspective on some of the reasons we hear so little foreign news:

  5. Thain permalink
    November 23, 2010 9:15 am

    I’ve just decided I’m going to join the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BSD) movement. The sugar-coating of this occupation would be unacceptable were it not for one inconvenient, politically important fact- this growing apartheid system is Israel and it’s US apologists are politically powerful and will bend over backwards to make excuses for Israel’s behavior all the while clinging to some romantic notion of some Jewish homeland.

    Occupation tourism is so romantic. Most of the formal tours to Israel (like Birthright) are little more than propaganda tours.

    No one is delegitimizing Israel- they are projecting their own motives and fears on to everyone else. They are delegitimizing themselves.

    • Steve permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:25 am

      @Thain- My son is involved with that on his college campus- your campus probably has an active group too. You will be labeled anti-Israel and people will try to silence you but keep on keeping on. He tells me that the campus group Hillel calls he and his friends “self-hating Jews” and that they are as bad as the terrorists. AIPAC is very influential in these campus groups and they put tremendous pressure on college/university administrations.

      Remember when Hamas used suicide bombings and other forms of violent resistance and the US and Israel told them, in effect, you will have no voice or place at the table so long as you use violence- use peaceful means of getting your message across and we will listen? Well, as violence (against Israelis) plummeted and Palestinians turned to nonviolent activism and even civil disobedience Israel, the pro-Israel Lobby and even Congress and our very own SOS started using new langauge- “delegitimize.” What does that word mean? It can really mean anything. It’s nothing but propaganda. It means “anyone who criticizes the occupation” and it means all forms of peaceful protest against the occupation. In other words, the US wanted nonviolence and when many Palestinians turned to nonviolence we went back on our promises and labeled them “delegitimizers”- as bad as terrorists because to disagree with Israeli policy is to undermine it’s very right to exist (or so they say).

      If Gandhi were alive today we’d probably call him a delegitimizer. We’d probably say he asked to get shot because he was delegitimizing the British colonial rule. And certainly, if he had been Palestinian, well, we wouldn’t have given him the time of day and then he most CERTAINLY would have deserved to be assassinated.

      This is not democracy:

      “Israeli forces stormed the village of Bil’in in a night raid. Four soldiers raided the home of Adeeb Abu Rahma, one of the prominent organizers of the non-violent demonstrations against the Wall. Adeeb Abu Rahma has been imprisoned by Israel for the last 17 months. Tonight, Israeli forces arrested Mohammed Adeeb Abu Rahma, Adeeb’s son, who is under 16 years old. It is unknown where he was taken. Mohammed is Adeeb’s only son.

      He was helping the family with their affairs while Adeeb remains unjustly detained by Israel. Seven daughters and Adeeb’s wife also live in the home that was raided. In this inhumane attack on the Abu Rahma house, Mohammed was beaten by the Israeli soldiers when he peacefully resisted arrest.

      During filming of the raid, local journalists Haitham Al-Khatib and Hamde Abu were mercilessly beaten by Israeli Occupation Forces and caused extensive damage to Haitham’s Camera, wanting Haitham to stop filming what was happening during the incursion. This is what happened in Bil’in today and this is what happens in the village of Bil’in and other Palestinian villages every day.”

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