Yediot Achronot, Israel’s largest circulation daily newspaper, fired this week one of the nation’s most popular progressive columnists, B. Michael (Michael Berizon). The writer is known for his satiric attacks on Israeli politicians and the Occupation. Considering his left-wing politics, it is interesting that he is also a religious Jew.
After writing for Yediot for 15 years, an editor told Michael that it would like to retain him, but only if he took a 50% pay cut. He refused. The two sides could never come to terms. His last column originally contained the following farewell to his readers, but editors cut it from the final published column:
This is my last article in this newspaper. I have been fired. Good-bye.
The Israeli blog, 7th Eye, notes that while economic reasons were given for his dismissal, many believe his political views contributed as well. The blog quotes a knowledgeable source who says:
My sense is that he wasn’t compatible with someone there or that he pissed someone off. There were those who warned him that he was playing with fire. But he replied that this was part of the job.
To give you a taste of the journalist’s work, here is a passage from a column he wrote during the Gaza war denouncing it passionately:
There it is again, the cyclical “déjà vu war.” That same ceremonial bloodshed that again is being poured into the hot lava that has been leading the entire region to misery for dozens of years now.
To be honest, one is fatigued by the need to divide the seventh day of the Six-Day War into “operations,” “wars,” “battles,” “operations,” and “campaigns.” All of them constitute one ongoing war; one great butcher shop. The war of occupier against occupied, and the war of the occupied against the occupier.
And again we hear all the great words about courage, surprise, sophistication, and success. Yet the nature of the “surprise” we delivered against Hamas isn’t quite clear. I mean, did the group fail to deploy its airplanes? Did it fail to advance its armored corps…? Did it fail to deploy its Patriot missile batteries?
Moreover, and there is no need to deny this, there is not too much glory and valor involved in flying over a giant prison and firing at its people using helicopters and fighter jets. So far we have seen sophistication and success mostly in the excited commentary of dozens of generals (res.) who again enjoy the limelight. As always.
The loss of a writer of such humanity and such acute judgment from Israel’s largest daily is a deep one. I hope that he ends up with a assignment that will give him similar scope for his writing talents. Readers wishing to protest Yediot’s decision may write to Erella Retzine.
Whats remarkable about the operation is not the fact that Israel just “shot missiles at a prison,” but that the rate of civilian casualties to terrorist combatants is incredibly low, and the result of years of technological and intelligence advancements intended to minimize collateral damage as much as possible. No other country would have been able to pull off an operation like this.
As I’ve said, the death of innocents is tragic. But Israel has done all it can to avoid killing civilians. The fact that Hamas stores weapons in mosques and schools – and the secondary explosions that they produce – is not Israel’s fault. If you wan’t to blame anyone for the casualties, blame Hamas for massing civilians in potential targeted areas, or not letting their civilians utilize their extensive network of bunkers.
This is what is happening to 1/6th of the country’s population.
Richard Silverstein says
Blah, blah, blah. Still can’t come up with an original argument, can you? Yours have been made here by others countless times & responded to by me. I suggest that whatever you intend to write here in future, that you Google within the site, & if a right wing commenter has said it before (and esp. if it’s been said 10 or more times), you exercise self-control and come up with a novel argument. That I will be happy to publish. This will be yr last comment that repeats others’ arguments. The next unoriginal one won’t see the light of day. There’s only so much repetition I can take before my eyes glaze over with boredom.
I recently had a discussion with someone about right wing pro Israel arguments and they said there are about six of them & they’re repeated ad nauseam. That’s certainly so in your case.
shoot and cry says
Fred Hiatt might give him a job.
In all seriousness, where are the Yediot Achronots in
the North American MSM?
One or two come to mind (eg. Roger Cohen, er, ok, one) but it is pretty much a wasteland of the true believers, the co-opted and the cowed.
I am not as optimistic as RS about Obama’s ability to break the stalemate but, foolishly perhaps, continue to live in hope.
B. Michael is the greatest. Yediot are absolute idiots for letting him go. It reflects on the current mainstream-Israeli mindset more than anything else.
We Israelis used to take pride in our vocal internal disagreements about every issue. Now it seems that Israel wants to speak in a single voice.
Here’s a snip from Michael’s last Yediot column. He begins by quoting Herzl and previous Orthodox leaders, saying that religion and state must be kept separate. And then:
Arie Brand says
“it reflects on the current mainstream-Israeli mindset more than anything else”
Yes, with all possible regard for Mr.Michael’s personal fate, that seems to me the really worrying thing about it.
I read that there is increasing migration from the Ashekanazim population towards Europe and the US and a stream in the opposite direction of ultra-orthodox Jews with millenarian orientation coming to experience the End Times and the arrival of the Messiah. They are overrepresented in the settler population.
I remember the joke about that tourist in Israel who was bemused by a strange murmuring he heard emerging from a group of laborers who were handing each other bricks for some constructionwork. Going nearer he could distinctlky hear “Bitte Herr Doctor, Danke Herr Doctor, Bitte Herr Doctor …” etc. That was then.
Those who have seen Max Blumenthal’s video “Feeling the hate in Jerusalem” on Philip Weiss’s blog and his comments on it have reason to worry about the kind of folk who get to Israel nowadays.
And these people are sitting on one of the world’s larger nuclear arsenals…
We are at an interesting point. Israeli voters elected Netanyahu. But this electorate is also said to be deeply discouraged over the possibility of peace with the Arabs. There is a significant drain of Ashkanazim population towards Europe and the United States, and a steady growth in millenarian-minded, ultra-Orthodox immigrants coming to witness the Last Times and the Messiah’s arrival. A third of the settler population is composed of American sectarian Orthodox Jews.
Arie Brand says
Correction. The last paragraph is a quote from William Pfaff’s last column. It is early in the morning here and I omitted the quotationmarks. My apologies.
Rupa Shah says
What a shame!
I used to look forward to reading his columns and never missed one. When I learnt last week, he was or was going to be fired, I called the paper and talked to Ms Erella Retzine and she would not confirm or deny the news. Will call her again and certainly protest strongly.
I guess, censorship is alive and well in the democratic State of Israel!
Arie Brand says
Further to the present nature of the Israeli electorate: similar ignorant right wing folk, of whom that Dutch demagogue, Geert Wilders, is the prototype, have prevailed in the recent European elections. This has not directly to do with Israel but it does mean that there will be little support for the Palestinian cause from that direction.
I read that, as a young man, Wilders wanted to go to Australia but his money didn’t reach for that so he couldn’t get any further than Israel. That was of course our ‘mazzel’. The last thing we need here in Australia is another xenophobe. There have been worrying attacks on Indian students lately. I hasten to add that thus far these things were quite uncommon here but economic difficulties and the friction caused by migratory movements are taking their toll.
So Wilders got to Israel and he claims that ‘he fell in love’ with that country. That says of course as much about Israel as about him. Thus far he has mainly shown that love in anti-Arab and anti-Islam diatribes.
RE: “…similar ignorant right wing folk, of whom that Dutch demagogue, Geert Wilders, is the prototype…”
A RELATED ARTICLE » “Radical Dutch anti-immigrant party has US ties”, Raw Story, 06/05/09
(EXCERPT) The Freedom Party of Dutch anti-immigration radical Geert Wilders won a major victory in that nation’s voting for the European parliament on Thursday, taking 15% of the vote and four out of a total of 25 seats…
…Despite his controversial reputation, Wilders is held in high esteem by American conservatives. When he toured the United States last February, IPS News reported that “his chief sponsors during the trip have primarily been neoconservative organisations such as Frank Gaffney’s Centre for Security Policy, David Horowitz’s Freedom Centre, and Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum, which is also helping to raise money for Wilders’s legal defence. An event he held at a Boston-area synagogue was sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition, an influential group whose board members include casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, and neoconservative writer David Frum.”
“He also appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s and Glenn Beck’s popular right-wing TV shows,” IPS continued, “met privately with the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and hobnobbed with former U.N. ambassador John Bolton at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)…
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/06/05/radical-dutch-anti-immigrant-party-has-us-ties/
thre more i read your writings,the more convinced i am that extreme leftis’m is nothing but a severe mental disease and is absolutely suicidal,and must be eradicated before it spreads and infects us all ,and destroys western civilization
Richard Silverstein says
How did you ooze your way into this blog infecting it with your deadly toxin??
Can’t be bothered to read the comment rules–your comment privileges are hereby revoked.
I don’t see how what B. Michael wrote was in any way out of synch with the editorial line of Yediot or its owners, the Mozes family. The paper supported Kadima in the last two elections, has been very hostile for the last 20 years or so to the settlers and the Haredim. It’s just possible that the whole argument is personal.