By Ira Stoll
After two (one, two) negative front-page articles about Israel’s new nation-state law, The New York Times is escalating its offensive by publishing an op-ed piece claiming that the Israeli parliament endorsed “apartheid methods” by approving the law.
The op-ed appears under the headline “Did Israel Just Stop Trying to Be a Democracy?” The usual rule is that when a headline is phrased as a question, the answer is “no,” but in this case the author seems to answer in the affirmative.
“The effort to guarantee equal rights for non-Jews has at times seemed like trying to square a circle. Last week, Israel gave up on even trying,” the Times op-ed says.
The article concludes, “Israel’s policy of promoting Jewish settlements has created de facto apartheid in the occupied territories of the West Bank. The nation-state law now formally endorses the use of similar apartheid methods within Israel’s recognized borders. What was long suspected has finally been made brutally clear: Israel cannot be both a Jewish state and a liberal democracy.”
The article is by Omri Boehm. The Times describes him as both “an Israeli philosopher” and “associate professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research.”
One interesting thing about Professor Boehm is that he was sharply critical of Israel even before the passage of the nation-state law. In December 2016, he attracted The Algemeiner’s attention for a barely comprehensible Times column about what he called “the alliance that’s beginning to form between Zionist leadership and politicians with anti-Semitic tendencies.” That column claimed “it is natural for Zionist and anti-Semitic politicians to find common ideas and interests.”
Given that Boehm was sharply critical of Israel both before and after the passage of the nation-state law, one might wonder whether his stance is really about the law at all. And one might wonder why the Times turned to him, of all people, for an outside-the-paper perspective on the issue.
Apartheid, after all, was the South African system in which the small white minority denied the much larger black majority the right to vote and imposed other laws mandating racial segregation. In Israel, Jews are the majority of citizens, and non-Jewish citizens have the right to vote and serve in government. The new nation-state law does not change that, so throwing the term “apartheid” around doesn’t really provide anything useful in terms of analysis. It’s just another way for the Times to insult and attack Israel.
As groundless as the Israel-apartheid connection is, it is nonetheless a recurring theme at The New York Times. Earlier coverage pointed out previous cases in the Times’ “T” magazine and the Times op-ed page.
Ira Stoll is the author of JFK, Conservative. He was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post.