The New York Times explains how gangsters now govern Israel

May 26, 2024

The rather timid headline for a recent aggressive story in the New York Times (NYT) introduced a detailed investigation by that newspaper of how the governance of Israel has been captured by brutalised backers of apartheid.

Michael Edesess recently observed how headline writing is regarded a special skill in journalistic circles. The NYT, he noted, argues that compelling headlines require: “vivid wording, a conversational tone and internal tension”. Curiously, the headline for the starkly provocative story noted above – “Takeaways From the Times Investigation Into ‘The Unpunished’” – ticks none of these boxes. This is the sort of wording you might expect to introduce a story covering bad behaviour on the rink in the National Hockey League.

Once you get into the text, however, the review is withering, arguing that the lawbreakers have become the law makers:

“Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister and the official in Netanyahu’s government with oversight over the West Bank, was arrested in 2005 by the Shin Bet domestic security service for plotting road blockages to halt the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He was released with no charges. Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, had been convicted multiple times for supporting terrorist organisations and, in front of television cameras in 1995, vaguely threatened the life of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered weeks later by an Israeli student.”

Subsequently, the writers note that:

“Prime Minister Rabin was murdered after rabbis passed what amounted to a death sentence on him for his support of the Oslo peace process.”

The article is timely, readable and shocking. Though it does leave the impression that this level of felonious influence on Israeli governance is a product of the power wielded by extremist, ultra-nationalists. It is beneficial to recall how the distinguished commentator, Pankaj Mishra, lately argued compellingly that ruthless, divisive zealotry has, in fact, been a mainstream feature of Israeli governance for over 70 years.

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