Does Haaretz’s position strengthen BDS?

  • Yes Recently, the French president, Emanuel Macron, said, “we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a re-invention of anti-Semitism.”

In a series of tweets Asaf Ronel, the world news editor of an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, said something very different. He declared that he is an “anti-Zionist,” and that “Israel has been an apartheid state since its creation.”

Now, Mr. Ronel is trying to distance himself and his personal views from those of the newspaper, because of the position he holds there. But he can’t.

Amos Schocken, the publisher of Haaretz has expressed similar sentiments for years. That’s why there’s no way that either Mr. Ronel or Mr. Schocken — from the platform of their personal “bully pulpit,” Haaretz — can say that using the term “anti-Zionist” doesn’t undermine the integrity of Israel and its standing in rest of the Western world. That’s because by using the words “anti-Zionist” and “apartheid state,” Mr. Ronel is echoing the words used by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which accuses Israel of being a colonial and apartheid state.

Mr. Ronel, the editor of a mainstream, globally recognized Israeli newspaper, can’t claim to feel loyalty and love for the State of Israel when he says he is an anti-Zionist. Somehow, though, he thinks he’s not purposely misleading. If he believes that, he is either totally disingenuous or a fool.

Before 1948, the primary goals of Zionism were to re-establish Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, to create a homeland for the Jewish people who were exiled after the Holocaust, and to be a sanctuary where Jewish people could escape the anti-Semitism and persecution they experienced during their diaspora. Since 1948 and the establishmint of the State of Israel, Zionism has continued to stand as a proxy for a Jewish state of Israel and to address threats to Israel’s continued existence and security.

Mr. Ronel and others are attempting to redefine Zionism as a way to justify their opposition to current Israeli governmental policies and practices. However, they have been unable to motivate Israeli voters to reject the current leadership. As an alternative strategy, they have begun a propaganda campaign to discredit the very country where they live, and whose very openness protects their type of yellow journalism. This manipulation of what Zionism represents only serves to strengthen what anti-Zionism means — the destruction or loss of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.

We want to give Mr. Ronel, Mr. Schocken, and their companions the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps at Haaretz they believe the positions they take further the values and long-term sustainability of the Jewish state. Unfortunately, they fail to take into account the powerful media war that BDS has been raging— and often winning. During those battles, BDS forces have bastardized the word “Zionist,” put it together with “apartheid,” and made them synonymous. As a result, the statements that Mr. Ronel and Mr. Schocken have made undercut Israel’s viability and security.

In Europe, which already is a bastion of pro-BDS efforts, Haaretz is considered a well-respected news source — but it really is an advocate for acts that harm the state of Israel. Haaretz claims that it is read by a large portion of progressive Israelis. The truth is only an estimated 3 to 6 percent of the Israeli population reads Haaretz. Perhaps that’s because most Israelis know what Zionism truly is, despite the way in which Mr. Ronel has characterized it for his own political purposes. That’s a violation of journalistic ethics.

Even worse, we think Haaretz has become a tool for the BDS movement.

Shame on Asaf Ronel and Amos Schocken.

NOTE, This blog post was co-authored by Jason Shames, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

About the Author
Dan Shlufman is a mortgage banker at Classic Mortgage and a practicing real estate attorney in NY. He lives in Tenafly with his wife Sari and two children ages 16 and 10.Dan is on the Board of the Jewish Federation of NNJ; a member of Cohort 4 of the Berrie Fellows and an officer of his Temple’s Men’s Club. Dan is an avid networker; a long suffering Jets' season ticket holder and a recreational tennis player and skier.
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