I wouldn’t have believed this unless I’d seen it with my own eyes. Something about the Gaza campaign and the perception in Israel that it has succeeded has turned the formerly acute judgment of Haaretz editors into mush. Here is Haaretz’s fond editorial farewell to one of the worst presidents in U.S. and one who allowed the Middle East to turn into a disaster zone of epic proportions:
This is also a moment of leave-taking from the administration of George W. Bush. Bush’s mistakes, whether related to his priorities or conduct, are dwarfed by his realization after September 11, 2001, that radical Islam had declared all-out war on the West; that those being attacked had to move the battle to enemy territory.
Despite the criticism over aspects of the military and political conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially after the fall of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, Bush should be credited with halting the attack by governments and organizations, rebels and radicals, who see the ends as justifying the means. Bush has had his share of mistakes and failures, but in the pantheon of American governments, and from the selfish perspective of Israel and its security, he is worthy of being remembered as a dedicated friend who helped Israel. He was the first president to support the establishment of a moderate and democratic Palestinian state alongside the Jewish one.
Bush’s ambition of filling the region with democracy hasn’t turned out so well.
One doesn’t know where to begin in addressing this miasma of faulty analysis. First, ANY U.S. president would’ve realized that Al Qaeda had declared all out war on the West. So Bush’s “realization” is nothing worth bragging about.
Second, the claim that “aspects” of Bush policy in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed is laughable. Is this supposed to pass for sober analysis from the liberal Israel press? Bush’s entire policy is an abject failure. It has been from Day One and will be until the bitter end when we withdraw the last soldier from Iraq.
Third, a “dedicated friend who helped Israel??” Who wrote this shit? How did George Bush help Israel? By acceding to every wish ever voiced by any Israeli PM who ruled during his terms? By backing every godforsaken war Israel chose to fight? By giving Israel carte blanche to carve up the Territories into bantustans with scores of illegal settlements?
Fourth, have Haaretz’s editors forgotten Bill Clinton? He was the first president to support a Palestinian state. Not George Bush. In fact, on June 7, 2001 Clinton called for creation of a “sovereigh, viable Palestinian state.”
Fifth, saying Bush’s dream of little Middle Eastern democracies sprouting up like mushrooms “hasn’t turned out so well”–gee, d’ya think?
What’s going on with the Haaretz editorial staff? Have they taken leave of their senses? Gone soft in the head? Has it been infiltrated by a mole from Yisroel HaYom? Is it going for the Likud neocon reader demographic now that Bibi is ahead in election polls??
This has got to go down in journalistic history as one of the worst Haaretz editorials ever written. Those who wrote it and those who work for this newspaper should hang their heads in shame.
As should be obvious from individually bylined articles, “Haaretz editors” are a rather diverse bunch. I can immediately think of three who’d never sign off on such a piece of crap.
My favourite is this:
In the same breath, and without any sense of irony they condemn governments and so on who see the ends as justifying the means, right after praising Bush for exactly the same.
What was that Annapolis thing about, again?
(Clinton’s speech was on Jan 7, 2001, not June.)
Haaretz could say straight that Israel made much money thanks to Bush. The Israeli security gadget and weapon trade have boomed during Bush’s regime.
Sure Bush supported a two state solution. Sadly Bush agreed that the size of that other state is zero square meters.
I’d almost bet money that Bush wrote that editorial himself!
There’s something going on at Haaretz, a process of hardening of the hearts and closing of the minds. Kind of mirroring what’s going on in the very soul of israel itself. It may not be apparent to those who cursorily read a column or two at the English online content. But a more in depth comparison of columns, editorials and reportage of the past, say, 8 years (including the difficult intifada years), shows a perceptible slide in the daring openness that was so lauded everywhere. We know that in the past year, there were some major changes at haaretz, and a number of writers have departed, ostensibly due to tightening of budgets and reorganizations under new editor-in-chief. Some (many) of the world’s “friends of Israel” on the left failed to notice the overall change in tone and outlook, probably because as long as we can still read Gideon levi now and then, there’s a tendency to assume all is well. I noticed that the edge was tempered even in Amira haas’ occasional columns (she is no longer a regular), and certainy in Akiva Eldar’s, among many others, who either toned down their criticisms, or are no longer making much of an appearance.
But here is another interesting sympthom that people may be interested in: the lively (and chaotic) discourse on haaretz’s comments page has become subject to fairly tight censorship – no doubt in response to increasing calls inside and outside israel to cut back on the level of invective from the right and harsh critique from the left. Where once there could be upward of 500 comments on a column, there are now, typically, fewer than 100. I know they censor rather deeply now because the last 5 times i attempted to comment on Gaza related articles, the comments did not see the light of day. And my comments were far less incendiary than previous ones which posted without trouble before. No wonder many stopped bothering to comment at all, making the current discourse (if that’s what it is) a rather dull affair.
Haaretz has often been mentioned as an example of open discourse in israel (as opposed to, say, in the US). That may have been true enough but people forget that haaretz is barely the fourth largest daily in israel and is mostly read only by the so-called educated “elite” rather than the rank and file citizen, most of whom have no clue what haaretz is about. Furthermore, the pressure on haaretz to join in on the national implosion (‘circle your wagons”) of spirit that we have all noticed, was intense. No doubt, the editors and publishers have been called on the carpet many times, which is probably why some key reporters and columnists were culled.
The pressure has evidently born fruit – if one looks through the paper on any given day, especially during the last few weeks. the number of hard hitting articles are fewer between (most question the tactics of the attack on gaza, or its immediate goals, not its essence, or the need to “show them who’s boss once and for all”). Yes, there’s still Gideon Levy, but like the faux soul searching movie “Dancing with bashir”, it’s a bone thrown to us, effete peace lovers that we are, to deflect from sensing the growing stench of the national psychosis overtaking that lovely little country by the blue, blue sea.
Who cares about Hareetz. When 80-90% of the Jewish Israeli public support the massacre then no amount of introspection/dissent is going to make a difference.
Have you people ever read the comments left on Hareetz? Or on YNet? Or on JPost?
Israel is a right-wing nation. Who cares about the 1% that dissents? They are worthless in the grand scheme of things.
Good catch. I saw that funny editorial last night, and am planning to quote it in a larger piece debunking the “Bush was good for Israel” fallacy.
As to Haaretz changing: I am not sure, but I’ve heard there have been some serious changes in the paper’s editorial/business philosophy over the past year or two towards the tabloid genre.
They still keep Levy and Hass around because they are actually good for the rating and for the paper’s self-image. But more generally, while allowing the widest mainstream opening for left-wing views (relative to other venues), the editorial and general line itself has always played it safe.
Also, what they usually do for editorials is assign one person to write them. So sometimes you see a really progressive editorial, because Amira Hass wrote it. This one was probably by Shavit, or Marcus, or Aluf Ben, or one of the other clowns in the middle.
On a somewhat related note, there is actually an employee dispute over working conditions which may turn to a strike at Haaretz right now.
Former Zionist says
I too tried to leave a critical comment in the talk back section and it didn’t see the light of day. Previous posts had. Fair minded Israelis that I know well are disgusted with their right wing government, the Settlers, but they seem equally angry at and disgusted with the Palestinians, who they see as not interested in coexistence. I think they see the situation as hopeless and dire, and they are further demoralized when they find themselves demonized along with the Settlers.
I don’t know why you are surprised. Peres praised Bush too. It really doesn’t matter whether Netenyahu, Barak or Livni win the next election, the same policy will be persued unless someone acts as a check on Israel’s behavior.
I don’t believe Obama will do this either because he hired a bunch of Clinton’s people.
The good news is that that ordinary people in countries where they have a free media are completely fed up and are seriously starting to boycott Israel.
One of the main reasons – perhaps THE main reason – for launching the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was to transfer as much wealth as possible to the military-industrial complex; in this respect, these wars have indeed been a smashing success.
“…when we withdraw the last soldier from Iraq.”
Ain’t gonna happen anytime soon – a second main reason for invading Iraq was to establish a permanent military presence in Iraq. (But I’ll happily eat crow on this point if Obama proves me wrong.)
The finale defining moment of the Bush administration is Condi Rice embracing the Child Killer Livni, enough said