U.S. mainstream media hides or downplays Jewish supremacists who just carried out a ‘pogrom’ in Jerusalem

Last night, in the heart of Jerusalem, hundreds of Jewish supremacists, chanting “Death to Arabs,” attacked Palestinian passers-by; some 78 Palestinians were injured and 15 were hospitalized. IfNotNow, the activist organization of young American Jews, called the attacks “a pogrom.”

In a surprise, the New York Times did report on the attack. Isabel Kershner’s article was itself biased — and also did nothing to provide context: the pogrom is not an isolated outbreak, but another sign of the rise of far right-wing Israeli extremism. But at least the Times did cover the ugly episode; so far, not a word in the Washington Post, or on National Public Radio.

The Times used the word “clashes,” to imply that both the Israeli extremists and Palestinians were equally responsible for the violent outbreak. It cited a handful of recent Palestinian attacks on Jews, and insinuated that “in response, Jewish youths have been attacking Palestinians in downtown West Jerusalem. . .” In fact, unprovoked attacks by Jewish “settlers” and other extremists have been a chronic feature of life in Israel/Palestine for decades.

By contrast, the reliable Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that last night Israeli authorities harshly repressed Palestinian counter-demonstrators: “Meanwhile, the police continued cracking down on Palestinians in the area of [Jerusalem’s] Damascus Gate, dispersing groups with water cannons despite the absence of violence or provocation from the Palestinian gatherers.”

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But the Times article’s larger failure is that it continued the paper’s pattern of protecting Israel’s reputation by covering up or downplaying the ugly far right-wing element in the country. In the last election for the Knesset in March, a political party called “Jewish Power” got enough votes to elect its leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir. Jewish Power is the heir of the late Jewish-fascist rabbi, Meir Kahane. Benjamin Netanyahu’s maneuverings to form a new government could depend on support from the group.

Itamar Ben-Gvir has only ever appeared once in the New York Times, in passing. (The Washington Post has never mentioned him.) The omission is inexplicable. He is the equivalent of American political figures like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matthew Gaetz — extremists who nonetheless are representative of a significant portion of public opinion. The Times and the rest of the U.S. mainstream report eagerly on Greene and Gaetz. But the paper hides Ben-Gvir, along with messianic military leaders like the notorious high-ranking general Ofer Winter, even though Times readers would doubtless be interested to learn about the darker side of Israel. 

Once again, you have to turn to alternative media to learn full truths. Mondoweiss ran Jonathan Ofir’s long, thorough profile of Jewish Power and Itamar Ben-Gvir last month, in which Ofir accurately compared the group to the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis, and pointed out that it calls for the expulsion of Palestinians from the Occupied West Bank. There’s no doubt that Ben-Gvir would be quite happy to sit for an interview in the New York Times. When will we see one?

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