Angry Readers Meet, Confront Haaretz Editors

September 17, 2014  

Amos Shocken, the publisher of ultra-leftist newspaper Haaretz, met a few days ago with about 100 former readers of the newspaper who cancelled their subscriptions to the paper because they were fed up with its extreme content during Operation Protective Edge.

The single item that caused the most outrage was an article by rabidly leftist columnist Gideon Levy, in which he called IAF pilots “war criminals” for bombing Gaza.

According to Itamar Baz of media watchdog “The Seventh Eye,” Haaretz invited 300 disgruntled ex-readers to the meeting, one third of whom took part in the event. They singled out Levy, as well as other writers known for their extremist lines: Uri Misgav, Rogel Alpher, Ari Shavit, Nehemia Strasler and Amos Harel.

Shocken reportedly told the ex-readers that Haaretz writes about Israeli-Palestinian relations as “part of a range of struggles for the character of the country, which are aimed at a more just and enlightened society.” A subscription to Haaretz, he explained, is also an investment in “an insurance policy regarding the direction in which Israel is headed.”

Shocken insisted that Haaretz is a Zionist newspaper that supports Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic country.

The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Aluf Benn, explained the editorial staff’s need to “show the other side” of the Gaza conflict, arguing “when you say that so-and-so many people were hurt or killed in Gaza, it does not determine moral responsibility – it is simply what happened. If we put it on page 17 we will not be more just or supportive of the IDF. No. If we do so, we will be giving our readers poorer service. It would be like describing a soccer game with just the score for one team, and that is not the story that took place there.”

Benn said that Haaretz decided not to publish an article that compared the Palestinians to the Warsaw Ghetto rebels.

According to Baz, David On, one of the former subscribers, asked the editors to explain where their red lines run. “If one Ismail Haniyeh wants to publish an article in which he explains why Israel should be annihilated, will you let him, in the name of democracy? At what point will you say ‘no more’?”

“What do you have against our wonderful pilots? Speak out against their commanders, against the political echelon,” On continued, “but what do you have against the 22-year-old sitting in the pilot’s seat and carrying out orders? Is he evil? Is he a murderer?”

His questions were met with applause.

The description in the Seventh Eye indicates that the meeting became stormy and eventually participants began to slowly file out.

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