Ronen Bergman — Mr. AIPAC — shouldn’t be covering Israel’s assassination for NYT

In covering the murder of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, The New York Times has twice now (Friday and today) relied upon Ronen Bergman, an Israeli intelligence reporter and staff writer for the Times magazine.

Ronen Bergman is hardly a neutral journalist. He has bragged that he has “been all over the U.S.” with the rightwing Israel lobby group AIPAC, which exists to effect blind political support of Israel in the U.S. At one such appearance, closed to the media, Bergman heaped praise on the lobby group: “You need to… explain to Israelis how much they owe AIPAC.… I know that you’ve got our backs. It’s such a great feeling.”

Bergman has many sources inside the Israeli security establishment and in 2018, he published “Rise and Kill First”, a book chronicling dozens of Israeli assassinations that teems with his sources’ jokes about killing Arabs and Palestinians that dehumanize those people. Bergman passes these quotes along with a swaggering air. Some of the lines:

–“For years we were cleaning out Israel’s sewage, and everyone knew more or less how the sewage was cleaned.”

–“The right way to confront the Israeli-Arab dispute was by ‘separating the Arab from his head.’”

–A Palestinian “died of natural causes by swallowing a pillow.” 

–Israel should put settlements in the West Bank till the Arabs could only “run around like drugged bugs in a bottle.”

–“You press once, you press twice, but the coffee stays in the machine.” (failed attempt to blow up a Palestinian target.)

–“Every Arab [informant] can be recruited on the basis of one of the three Ps– praise, payment, or pussy.”

The assassination Israel committed Friday outside Tehran in the waning days of the Trump administration is an atrocity with immense foreign policy implications for the U.S., and for Joe Biden’s effort to revive the Iran deal.

Yet you can see from Israeli coverage of the murder that virtually everyone in the political establishment there supports the killing. Bergman operates totally inside Israel’s worldview, often reflecting it joyfully. I’m not denying Bergman’s expertise. But it’s one thing to quote such a figure, it’s another to give them a byline in a leading U.S. journal.

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