Editor's Note: This article is part of the Press on Palestine series, an initiative by Palestine Square. It includes selections from October, November, and December of 2021. Press on Palestine highlights bias in mainstream American reporting on Palestinian affairs and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In its last roundup for 2021, Press on Palestine selected three articles from the months of October, November, and December that covered Palestine-related news without adhering to common standards of objectivity and truth. In this roundup, Sally Rooney is defamed, the Israeli military is praised, and The New York Times wants a bigger mansion for American diplomats in Israel.
1. Washington Post, October 19, 2021
If Sally Rooney believes in her own writing, she should want Israelis to read it
When author Sally Rooney turned down an offer from an Israeli publisher to translate her latest novel, pro-Israeli media outlets across the world quickly rushed to slander her. Despite the fact that Rooney clearly stated that she had no intention of boycotting the Hebrew language, and was simply boycotting publishing houses affiliated with the Israeli government, countless journalists chose to ignore this.
The Washington Post provided space in its opinion pages for all kinds of critiques of Sally Rooney’s pro-BDS action. One op-ed, written by Gershom Gorenberg, while not calling Rooney an anti-semite, attempted to discredit the logic behind her boycott. In doing so, the Post allowed for a completely absurd analysis to be published.
Gorenberg was born in the United States. He settled in Occupied Palestine in 1977, and is best known for writing pseudo-history books about spies and Nazis in the Middle East. In his op-ed, he claims to be opposed to illegal settlements and the Occupation, and wishes that more Israelis could read Sally Rooney:
He writes that “a blanket boycott of Israel ends up being a gift to the country’s political right.” Gorenberg fails to note that the “political right” of Israel is practically the entire settler population. He then further discredits himself by taking issue with Rooney’s usage of the term “apartheid” to describe the Israeli state - although Rooney simply quoted reports by Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem. Gorenberg’s disingenuousness is rife throughout the piece. He states that he believes in a two-state solution as a way for Israel to “survive” but that he has respect for Palestinain national rights which he claims BDS diminishes.
By hiding behind the rhetoric of a two-state solution, Gorenberg and other so-called liberal Zionists try to brush away their worst nightmare - a one-state solution. What Israelis in fact want is a two-state solution, where the Palestinian state is covered in settlements and blockaded by Israeli soldiers.
Gorenberg wants to help Israel “survive and flourish.” Obviously this is not at all the goal of the BDS movement, which stands up for victims, not perpetrators. And Israelis shouldn’t have to be convinced of anything - they are committing ethnic cleansing, and individuals like Gorenberg are using their columns and university posts to cover it up.
2. Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2021
Israel is at the center of a new international security order
In this Wall Street Journal article by an employee of the Jerusalem Post, Israel is lavishly praised as the centerpiece of a global security alliance against Iran - a non-nuclear power. Throughout the puff piece, war mongering and support for Israeli apartheid go hand-in hand.
Seth Frantzman talks up the illegitimate Abraham Accords in a desperate effort to continue lauding the normalization actions pushed by the Trump administration. His article reads like a promotional for the Israeli Occupation Forces and the global armaments industry. There is not a single mention of Palestine or the Palestinian people in the article - they are only briefly mentioned as “terrorists.”
The hateful language doesn’t stop there. He describes a visit by American forces to a training camp for Israel “commandos” that he calls “little Gaza”. The Gaza Strip, where more than two million Palestinians are held hostage by the Israeli blockade, is, for this propagandist, a joke. Frantzman finds it amusing to speak about the embattled Strip with video game lingo, giving a military training camp the nickname of a real place that Israelis consistently terrorize.
Frantzman’s lack of military experience is evident throughout the piece. Having been feted by the Israelis, the American military, and the Republican Party for so long, it is no surprise that Frantzman is brainwashed. Most of Israel’s “real combat experience” is centered around shooting and rounding up civilians, including women, children, medics, and the elderly. What Israeli Occupation Forces could offer the world in the face of actual global conflict is dubious.
With pieces like these, it is easy to see that WSJ is more excited about Israel than ever. Unfortunately, this propaganda carries weight - in the realm of military alliances, the aparthied state is far from a pariah.
3. The New York Times, December 1, 2021
In Israel, the new U.S. ambassador’s home lacks a certain view
The New York Times, perhaps the loudest mainstream mouthpiece for the Israeli government, published one of the most sickeningly callous pieces about Occupied Palestine in 2021: a profile on the American ambassador’s residences in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Times correspondents Laura Jakes and Michael Crowley lament the loss of the American ambassadorial residence in Tel Aviv, which took place under the Trump administration. They gripe about the living situation of top American diplomats in Jerusalem:
“... the pied-à-terre at the embassy provides little privacy and has none of the grandeur for the formal events that an American ambassador posted to the United States’ closest Middle East ally is expected to host.”
Ignoring the continued expulsion of Palestinians in Jerusalem and other cities, as well as the invasion and destruction of Palestinian homes by soldiers and illegal settlers, these correspondents took the time to author a piece that deliberately avoids mentioning the theft of land by the Israeli government and its allies. They end with a note about the modesty of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, who is living in a five-star hotel while his embassy awaits reconstruction.
Jakes and Crowley would be better suited writing a real estate column for a lifestyle magazine. They should steer clear of anything taking place in Occupied Palestine, of which they clearly have no understanding.