The Fern Sidman Commentaries:
September 7th, 2007: "THE NEW PALESTINE POST"
Once upon a time ago, we lived in a world where we were taught that the media was an instrument to disseminate news. To report the facts, check and re-check sources assiduously and maintain lofty levels of fairness, accuracy, objectivity and integrity. So much for utopian concepts and fairytales.
One need only to look to The New York Times, the paper that boasts that it only runs "all the news that's fit to print", to get a better idea of a paradigm of journalistic opportunism, fueled by a left wing, liberal, vehemently secular political agenda that is embraced by the elitist community of academics and intellectuals. The views espoused in this "paper of record" are regarded by those who have assumed positions in the "politically correct" world as the only serious opinions that shape current political discourse.
The New York Times does not stand alone as the mouthpiece of "politically correct" and disingenuous reporting. It is but a concept. There are many New York Times' ominously circulating on this planet. The Israeli version of such press is what is considered the "premiere" newspaper of the country, Haaretz (The Land). For decades it has promulgated a vociferously extreme left wing, Marxist-Leninist agenda, echoing the policies of Israel's Labor party. Despite this flagrant and brazen display of partisan politics, it was still considered a paper that embodied support for the country that it represented. Not so anymore.
Enter Danny Rubinstein, a member of Haaretz's editorial board, a prominent columnist and Arab affairs editor. Rubinstein has now crossed the line from being a critic of Israeli policy to a staunch enemy of the state. Last week in Brussels, Belgium, Mr. Rubinstein took the podium at a United Nations sponsored conference on Palestinian rights and sanctimoniously declared to the world that "Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities".. He also stated that, "Hamas won the election of the international community and Israel cannot ignore that." He added that Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel each had "a different status," according to a summary of his speech by a United Nations web site.
To get some idea of the atmosphere in which Rubinstein made these comments, it is imperative to understand why this conference was convened. This conference entitled, "International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestine Peace" is in actuality a platform for anti-Israel rhetoric by the United Nations Committee for Palestinian Rights. This committee was established by the UN General Assembly in 1975, the very same day that the world body adopted the infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution.
According to a JTA report, seven members of the European Parliament published a letter to the International Herald Tribune saying that, "despite the neutrally sounding title of its conference," it "has a proven record of anti-Israel bias, spreading propaganda that presents only the Palestinian narrative, including the delegitimization of Israel - a UN member state."
Susanna Kokkonen, political director of the European Coalition for Israel, which represents five Christian organizations and works closely with members of the European Parliament who advocate Israeli interests, said the two-day conference last week had "an atmosphere that was thick with hate towards Israel." "I was most shocked to hear an editor from Haaretz condemn Israel in a way that was worse than the Arab speakers," Kokonnen said.
Among the haters of Israel who shared the podium were a virtual sea of Palestinian activists along with a delegation from Neturei Karta, who attendees welcomed with an ovation for their vehement opposition to Israel's existence and who participated in a highly publicized gathering of Holocaust deniers in Iran. Rubinstein's views were shared by British parliament member Clare Short, who reportedly said apartheid in Israel was worse than in South Africa. "Israel doesn't want a two-state solution, and the E.U. is allowing the state of apartheid to continue". Short told the attendees that "we have to start sanctions against Israel." Other speakers called for boycotts of Israel and observers said that during one workshop, Richard Kuper, spokesman for the London-based European Jews for a Just Peace, argued that Israel supporters emphasize the conflict in Darfur to direct attention away from Israel's human rights violations.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva based UN Watch said, It's disturbing that a leading Israeli journalist is participating with a Soviet-era enterprise whose sole aim is to assault Israel morally, legally and financially. But that he would full throatedly join the jackals and call Israel 'an apartheid state' is an outrage."
Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Schwammenthal told the JTA he was so shocked by what he heard that he later confirmed the comment with Rubinstein. "I asked him if he really thought Israel was in a state of apartheid and he answered 'yes'" Schwammenthal said.
Rubinstein's remarks prompted the British Zionist Federation, a 10,000 member pro-Israel body to cancel his scheduled appearance at the Federation's conference, "Israel at 60," which was held in London. The Federation's chairman, Andrew Balcombe said that "by using the word apartheid in a UN conference held at the European Parliament, Danny Rubinstein encourages the demonization of Israel and the Jewish people. I believe he was naive to attend the UN conference. Indeed his own newspaper Haaretz head earlier reported that Israeli and EU lawmakers had attacked the UN meeting for having a completely one-sided, anti-Israeli agenda."
Not so, according to Rubinstein. "People do use the word apartheid in my circles. My newspaper increasingly uses that word. This is nothing new", Rubinstein told a crowd of 100 who attended a speech he gave at the New North London Synagogue. The talk at the London synagogue was organized by the left wing organization, New Israel Fund who claims to reject the use of the apartheid label but stress the need to defend "free speech." Rubinstein told the audience at the London synagogue that, "I only started using the word apartheid recently after reading Jimmy Carter's book, 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid', though I didn't like the book." Rubinstein defiantly proclaimed to his listeners that "I am not apologizing for what I said. I have a professional responsibility to say what I think, and I won't change what I say or what I think depending on the place." Audience members said Rubinstein could not fathom why he should modify his positions for an audience abroad - even one that includes anti-Zionists.
Rubinstein's remarks do indeed reflect the editorial shift of Israel's "premiere" newspaper, Haaretz. By referring to Israel as an apartheid state, a bold and audacious lie and distortion of the facts, Rubinstein has served as the chief facilitator in the transformation of Haaretz from a paper that prides itself on direct confrontation with Israeli policies to one that is bent on its destruction. Rubinstein's vituperative has brought unbridled joy to the hearts of those in Baghdad, Teheran, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Riyadh and all over the world that hate Israel and have sworn her total eradication. One may wonder if Rubinstein is being paid off by lucrative sums of money from the Saudis, but alas, Rubinstein is an ideologue, not a mercenary. He doesn't need to be bribed to destroy Israel; he will be more than glad to offer his diatribes free of charge.
And of his paper, Haaretz?? It can now go about the process of changing its name from "The Land", meaning the land of Israel to the Palestine Post. Rubinstein's hateful and fraudulent labels of apartheid have permanently removed Haaretz from the Israeli political scene for all time. I'm sure Rubinstein and company from this newspaper can find other, more friendly accommodations in Gaza City.