Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who Got Ha'aretz's Tongue on Libya?

27 February '11

Have you noticed how Ha'aretz has published very few editorials or Op-Eds concerning events in Libya? In contrast to the revolution in Egypt, about which Ha'aretz published dozens of opinion pieces and analyses, including editorials, the vast majority in support of Egyptian citizens, Ha'aretz has been largely mum on Libya.

Why the reticence to speak out in this case?

Perhaps editors are embarrassed by last year's editorial in defense of the delegation of Israeli Arab Knesset members who traveled to Libya and paid homage to Muammar Gadhafi.In the wake of the torrent of criticism of the trip, Ha'aretz wrote (April 30, 2010):

Hysteria gripped the right wing in the Knesset after an Arab delegation of MKs and dignitaries visited Libya. . . .The tongues of Habayit Hayehudi and National Union, two parties that could unite under the name "the Racist Union," were abruptly unleashed as though they were dealing with an unparalleled act of treason. . .

Libya is not on the list of enemy states. . . Libya signed the Arab League's peace initiative, holds the League's rotating presidency, and its ruler Muammar Gadhafi maintains excellent relations with the U.S. administration.

At the time, Snapshots noted that Ha'aretz's apologist editorial stood in stark contrast to criticism by Israeli Arabs including Salman Masalha and Ahmed Feead Mahameed, who wrote, among other things:

This week's visit to Libya by an Israeli Arab delegation signifies a loss of both political and moral orientation. . .

The visit did nothing to gain respect for either the delegation members or their constituency. . . .

Not only are such trips by Arab representatives to kowtow before Arab despots an insult to the intelligence, they also harm the just struggle of this country's Arab minority. . . .

[W]hat is the logic behind the Arab MK's trip to Libya?

Indeed, Ha'aretz's embarrassing flattery of Libya's insane leader who is now massacring his own people is surpassed only by the paper's support for the grovelling delegation of Arab MKs. Ha'aretz is now in no position to excoriate Gadhafi after having vilified "the Racist Union" for saying things a year ago which today the whole world understands.

So Ha'aretz faces a tricky dilemma, which it chose finally today to address with a single Op-Ed by Salman Masalha ("Arab MKs must beg for forgiveness for Libya visit"), in which he writes:

All the Arab public figures who went to Libya were as political mercenaries in the service of Gadhafi the tyrant. They should now publicly express remorse and beg forgiveness, first from the Libyan people and next from the Arab citizens they purport to represent.

A public accounting is not only necessary but would also show that they have learned their lesson and intend to mend their ways. If not, Israel's Arab citizens should turn their backs on them and toss them in the garbage, just as Arab nations are rising up against their corrupt leaders. And the sooner, the better.

-- By Yishai Goldflam. For the Hebrew version of this blog entry, visit CAMERA's Israeli site.

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