I Hate Ha’aretz

I hate Ha’aretz. I often read it, throw it on the floor and swear I will never buy it again. But I never keep my word. I would never not buy Ha’aretz. I need to read it. Not because I’m a masochist but because its articles are written by intelligent people with whom I often disagree and there is great value to that.

Anything that gets me to think out of my framework is valuable. The last thing I would want to do is sit around all day reading newspapers that simply reinforce things I believe. That is like reading a newspaper that gives me news that I already know.

Ha’aretz is valuable because my beliefs and my opinions might be wrong. I am a passionate person and passion blinds. Ha’aretz causes me to think and thinking evaporates the steam that fogs my glasses. The sooner my opponent schools me the quicker I can perceive the truth. I can’t stand Gideon Levy’s opinions  but I cannot disagree with (most of) his facts. Facts are facts no matter who says them (usually). As a result of Levy’s reporting, I have come to appreciate the suffering that Palestinians endure under the occupation that I  – like many others from my background – was so quick to dismiss. So I owe Levy and Ha’aretz gratitude for at least that.

Another reason it is important to read articles written by those I disagree with is that it forces me to clearly formulate what my objections are. Take Amira Hass, for example (Take her, please!). I found the arguments in her recent article (Behind the silent reaction of the Palestinian street, Nov 19) to run the gamut from weak to flawed. But thinking about her article helped me formulate an opinion the exact opposite of what she intended, that Palestinians who are putatively pro-peace and silent are not pro-peace at all.

She tries to explain – even justify – the silence for a number of reasons. She explains that the Har Nof Massacre came on the heels of the discovery of the body of an Arab bus driver, Yusuf al-Ramouni, which the Police “hastened to declare him a suicide” implying this was a cover up for a nationalistic murder by right wing Israelis. And she continues “…Palestinians fundamentally distrust the police’s motives.”

Yet she doesn’t explain why she thinks the declaration of a suicide was “hastened.” Was this autopsy and declaration done more quickly than others? And she glaringly – and egregiously – fails to mention that an Arab doctor was part of the autopsy team. What was, according to Hass, his motive for covering up a supposedly nationalistic murder against his own people?

She goes on to describe that Har Nof “…is built on the lands of the former Palestinian village of Deir Yassin [where a massacre by Israelis took place]. Those who are keeping silent now see the murder as a response to an Israeli policy toward the Palestinians that has been one long chain of attacks, dispossessions and expulsions since 1948.”

So Hass is justifying their silence by saying the massacre was done in a symbolic place for Palestinians, in a place that shows that the silent majority do not even accept the Israeli borders of 1948. In other words they don’t accept Israel’s right to exist. If this is the case, then we shouldn’t care that they are silent – they are not our partners for peace.

Hass goes on to explain that those Arabs that remain silent “share the despair and anger that pushed the Abu Jamals” to commit the Har Nof massacre. “Like the Abu Jamals, they [the silent majority] feel themselves under assault: The Israeli nation is constantly attacking them with all the tools at its disposal.”

But I too, an Israeli Jewish Zionist, feel the constant attacks by Arabs and Palestinians. I too am angry that there are Arabs living inside of Israel refusing to accept citizenship and dominion of the State of Israel. I too feel “despair and anger” when some of them blow up, shoot, and gut Jewish women and children and men. I too am saddened by the fact there are many places in Jerusalem that I’m afraid to walk through wearing my kippah.

But that “despair and anger” didn’t stop me from expressing my revulsion when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslims praying in a mosque. That “despair and anger” did not stop me from paying a shiva call to Abu Khader’s family in Shua’afat for the murder of their 17 year old boy. It did not stop me from saying to his father that I am deeply sorry about the murder of his son and I condemn the three disgusting kippah-wearing Israelis that did it.

If the supposedly silent majority of “peace-loving” Arabs don’t start speaking up, I and others will never accept any peace deal with them because we won’t believe it is real. So I thank Ha’aretz for schooling me when I’m wrong and I thank it for allowing me to clearly formulate my thoughts when it is wrong. I imagine I will continue to buy Ha’aretz, read it and throw it on the floor out of frustration.

About the Author
Robby Berman has a Masters (MPA) from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, a Masters (MBA) from the Baruch School of Business and is the founder & director of the Halachic Organ Donor Society ( He is also the author of the book Min Taq Taq: A Collection of Arabic Idioms and Expressions in the Palestinian Dialect.