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New York Times Deplores Israeli Rhetoric While Denouncing Israeli Settlers as a ‘Cancer’

A taxi passes by in front of The New York Times head office, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri / File.

It’s a classic antisemitic double standard. When Israelis use heated rhetoric about Hamas, the New York Times raises alarm bells. But when American “progressives” call Jews “cancer,” the Times either ignores it or itself is among the perpetrators.

A “guest essay” in the Times by Omer Bartov, a professor of “Holocaust and genocide studies” at Brown University, denounced what he called “deeply alarming language,” statements that he said “indicate a genocidal intent.”

Bartov writes, “On Oct. 9, Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said, ‘We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,’ a statement indicating dehumanization, which has genocidal echoes. The next day, the head of the Israeli Army’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, addressed the population of Gaza in Arabic: ‘Human animals must be treated as such.’”

Leave aside whether calling someone a “human animal,” rather than merely an animal or an inhuman animal, really does indicate “dehumanization.” And leave aside, too, that Alian is an Israeli Druze, which the Times doesn’t mention, perhaps because it complicates the narrative the newspaper is pushing of Jewish racism.

In addition to the “guest essay,” the Times mobilized its London bureau chief, Mark Landler, to catch up to the opinion piece by manufacturing an entire news article about what a headline called “Inflammatory Rhetoric From Israeli Leaders.”

Landler’s first example is that same “human animals” quote from Gallant that is mentioned in Bartov’s op-ed. Landler also faults a former Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, for declaring, “We’re fighting Nazis.” Landler doesn’t mention that Israelis in Gaza discovered an Arabic-language copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in a children’s room in a civilian home in Gaza that was used as a Hamas headquarters. Landler also doesn’t mention that Hamas’ covenant aspires to kill all the Jews (“there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”)

The Times has also been quite assertive recently about denouncing Donald Trump’s rhetoric. One Times news article was about Donald Trump’s promise to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” That article reported, “The former president’s remarks drew criticism from some liberals and historians who pointed to echoes of dehumanizing rhetoric wielded by fascist dictators like Hitler and Benito Mussolini.” The Times followed up with a second news article, on the front page, reporting, “Mr. Trump used language that echoed authoritarian leaders who rose to power in Germany and Italy in the 1930s, degrading his political adversaries as ‘vermin’ who needed to be ‘rooted out.’”

Where does the double standard come in?

A Democratic congressman from Wisconsin, Mark Pocan, denounced a largely Jewish pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as “cancerous to democracy” and as “a cancerous presence on our democracy and politics in general.” The Times hasn’t reported on it. Instead, the Times quoted Pocan about AIPAC without mentioning his use of the cancer slur.

Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who left the paper for a while in an attempt to run for governor of Oregon as a Democrat, recently called Israeli settlements and “violent settlers” a “cancer on the region.” (“It’s imperative that Israel freeze settlements and rein in violent settlers, for they are a cancer on the region,” was the precise sentence, which mixes the metaphor, because one reins in a horse, not a cancer.)

So long as the Times is on high-alert for “dehumanizing rhetoric” with “genocidal echoes,” why give a pass to language that compares Jews to cancer? Such language has a long and unfortunate history. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s collections include an “antisemitic propaganda flyer” acquired by a Jewish child in France between 1942 and 1945. It compares Jews to tuberculosis, syphilis, and cancer. A “fact sheet on the elements of antisemitic discourse,” prepared by Kenneth Marcus of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, notes that “in Nazi Germany, Jewishness was often compared to a cancer.”

Susan Sontag, in her 1978 book Illness as Metaphor, writes, “Modern totalitarian movements, whether of the right or of the left, have been peculiarly — and revealingly — inclined to use disease imagery … European Jewry was repeatedly analogized to syphilis, and to a cancer that must be excised.” Sontag writes that using cancer as a metaphor “amount to saying, first of all, that the event or situation is unqualifiedly and unredeemably wicked. It enormously ups the ante.”

Sontag writes: “To describe a phenomenon as a cancer is an incitement to violence … It could be argued that the cancer metaphors are in themselves implicitly genocidal.”

Sontag notes that “the standard metaphor of Arab polemics — heard by Israelis on the radio every day for the last twenty years — is that Israel is ‘a cancer in the heart of the Arab world’ or ‘the cancer of the Middle East.’”

And Sontag adds, “The cancer metaphor is particularly crass. It is invariably an encouragement to simplify what is complex and an invitation to self-righteousness, if not to fanaticism.”

It’s sad to see coming from Kristof, who was identified in 2011 by the former mayor of New York, Ed Koch, as “truly an enemy of Israel.” If the Times is going to get into the business of raising alarms about Israeli rhetoric or about language with echoes of authoritarianism, it might want to be a little more careful about its own and about that of its allies on the left. Otherwise, the Times‘ concerns just look like unprincipled partisanship or Israel-bashing.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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Hamas Turns Down Hostage Deal, Demands Israel Release More Terrorists

Families of hostages and supporters protest to call for the release of hostages kidnapped on the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

i24 NewsHamas on Sunday said it rejected the proposed hostage deal formulated in Paris, demanding that Israel release more Palestinian terrorists locked up in Israeli jails, according to a Saudi outlet.

There are 136 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian jihadists, abducted during the October 7 incursion and massacre.

The statement comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated Israel had “red lines” which could not be crossed.

Thus, the leader said, Israel will not end the war until all its goals are met, namely “the eradication of Hamas, the rescue of all our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to Israel.”

“We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price,” he said, adding reports in the local media whereby Israel agreed to freeing large numbers of terrorists were not true.

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Dennis Ross Is Blaming Israel Again

Former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgFormer U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross just can’t stop blaming Israel.

Speaking via Zoom for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy on Jan. 31, Ross offered some expected, perfunctory criticism of Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. But again and again, he managed to bring in one-sided and unfair criticism of Israel.

Referring to Israel’s counter-terrorism actions in Judea and Samaria, Ross said: “West Bank violence [by Arabs] is not disconnected from Israel’s policies in the West Bank.”

That’s just absurd. The terrorists are not responding to Israeli policies. They were murdering Jews long before there were any settlements or so-called occupied territories. They oppose Israel’s existence, not its borders. It’s these terrorists who are the aggressors, and Israelis must respond to them.

Regarding Gaza, Ross said: “The Israelis haven’t done everything they could to spare civilians in Gaza.” Is he kidding? The Israelis have refrained from striking terrorist targets where there are civilians. They have personally warned civilians to evacuate, again and again, through leaflets and phone calls and public announcements. They have risked the lives of their own soldiers by going house to house, instead of just bombing from the air. What else can they possibly do?

Ross also commented on the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice—the ruling that failed to condemn Hamas and demanded that Israel give more aid to Palestinians in Gaza. He said the ruling was “not irresponsible” and that it was provoked by “extreme statements by Israeli politicians.” That’s simply nonsense. The statement that the court cited most prominently was made by Israel’s left-leaning president, Isaac Herzog, who said that many ordinary Gazans supported the Hamas massacre, which was a perfectly reasonable statement of fact.

The practice of saying a few perfunctory crucial words about terrorists and then “balancing” it with criticism of Israel is typical of the grotesque “even-handedness” that Ross and his colleagues pushed during his many years at the U.S. State Department.

That approach was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. There can be no “balance” between good and evil. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not on the same moral level. Israel is America’s loyal, reliable, democratic ally. The P.A. is a terror-sponsoring, hate-mongering dictatorship.

In recent months, Ross has been saying that Israel should allow the Hamas leadership to leave Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages. He points to Israel’s decision in 1982, under U.S. pressure, to allow PLO chief Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO terrorists to leave besieged Beirut.

But Ross never mentions what happened after Arafat left. He didn’t retire. He set up PLO terrorist headquarters in Tunisia, and then 20 additional years of terrorism followed—suicide bombings, intifadas, mass shootings, stabbings. Ross’s new plan would have the same result.

This is the same Dennis Ross who has acknowledged—on the op-ed page of The Washington Post in 2014—that he pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete. Ross wrote that the Israelis opposed his demand because they feared that Hamas would use the cement to build terror tunnels. Ross insisted the concrete would be used to build houses, and because of his pressure, the Israelis gave in. We all know the result.

In his Zoom talk this week, Ross had the chutzpah to mention that Hamas used imported cement to build tunnels instead of homes, though never mentioned that he was the one who helped them to get that cement into Gaza in the first place.

Ross is frequently quoted in The New York Times and invited to appear on television shows and webinars. He’s treated as if his past involvement in Mideast diplomacy makes him an expert on how to make peace today. Yet every one of those diplomatic efforts failed. He has never facilitated real peace because he continues to pretend that both sides are to blame for the absence of peace.

The Jewish world is full of talented speakers, thinkers and writers. Surely, our institutions should be able to find more thoughtful lecturers than those same tired, old critics of Israel with their familiar and disastrous proposals.

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Israeli Jets Hit Hezbollah Posts as Rocket Barrages Continue to Threaten Upper Galilee

Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen during a rally commemorating late Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in an attack in Syria, in the Beirut suburbs, Lebanon on May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

i24 NewsThe IDF said that earlier today its fighter jets struck a Hezbollah launching post where operatives were seen as well as an observation post. In addition, a tank hit a terrorist cell in the Bleida area.

Israeli forces also responded to the rocket attacks in the past hour, hitting the source of the fire.

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