I am proud to be a blogger for Times of Israel. The quality of writing is high. The articles tend to be balanced, reasoned and are not dogmatically critical of either the right or the left. And, most importantly, the editorials offer unique and thoughtful insights on important issues facing Israel.
My politics are further right than Times of Israel, but my opinions are within a reasonable range of those one reads on timesofisrael.com. I am a supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, but am not a dogmatic defender, as I was not shy criticizing his ineffective and inept handling of the Gaza War, which was, in my mind, by no means a victory for Israel. However, I admire how he has stayed mostly principled under tremendous pressure from friends and enemies alike.
Netanyahu is not perfect, but he is certainly not a blind ideologue. Which brings me to the point of this blog entry: the article published on Ynetnews.com called “Between Begin and Netanyahu.” by Shimon Shiffer.
Let me begin by saying that other than blogging on timesofisrael.com, I have no affiliation with it. So I have no ulterior motives when I say that, from my observations, hardly a day goes by without ynetnews.com publishing left-wing articles that are so poorly written and detached from reality that one starts to wonder how ynetnews.com can present itself as a professional, legitimate English-language Israel news website.
Mr. Shiffer’s article is a perfect example of this continuing phenomenon. One can almost hear the article being spoken with a style that betrays the fact that English is clearly the author’s second language. At least some measure of editing should be done to correct both syntax and grammar. I, therefore, wonder whether Ynetnews.com has native English speakers on its editing staff.
For example, Mr. Shiffer writes: “That was Begin – the biggest democrat among Israel’s prime ministers in the past four decades, and the modest of them all.” (emphasis added) Other articles I have read contain similar basic mistakes, as if they have not been edited whatsoever.
The premise of Mr. Shiffer’s article – that Netanyahu is one-dimensional, focusing on settlements, requires a complete glossing over of everything Netanyahu has done to try to advance negotiations with the Palestinians. It was Netanyahu, after all, who, amid strong opposition from the right, instituted a building freeze in Judea and Samaria. It is also well known that there has been a de facto building freeze in parts of Judea and Samaria throughout his premiership. Besides these inconvenient facts which completely undermine Mr. Shiffer’s point, Netanyahu has also led a strong Israeli economy throughout his term and has certainly turned his mind to some very important social issues facing Israelis. Whether you agree with him or not, he has definitely not been a one-dimensional leader, protecting only Judea and Samaria.
The content of the article is also factually incorrect or, at the very least, misleading. Mr. Shiffer writes that:
“Three of the party leaders who are trying to convince voters from the national camp to vote for them and against Netanyahu basically fled the Likud during the prime minister’s term – Avigor [sic] Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu, Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu and Naftali Bennett of Bayit Yehudi.”
First, Moshe Kahlon has given no indication he is vying for nationalist votes. He is painting himself as a centrist mostly concerned about social issues. Second, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Bennett have headed their own parties for a substantial period of time. They certainly did not leave the Likud during Netanyahu’s previous term in office. Bennett was last Netanyahu’s chief of staff in 2008, close to 7 years ago. That 2 (or 3 or 4 or even 10) figures left the Likud over the last decade is hardly proof of Netanyahu’s leadership failures, especially given the result of the recent Likud primaries, where he emerged victorious in many ways.
Overall, Mr. Shiffer sounds like a disgruntled leftist, offering cliche opinions about Netanyahu which add nothing to the political discourse.
Ha’aertz is radically left wing – it cannot be saved. But Ynet should know better.
Look forward to a series of critiques by me of Ynetnews articles. If Ynet looks within and finds writers of quality, reason and less dogmatism, the entire Israeli and diaspora public will be better served.
Shabbat Shalom from Toronto.