I never got near a computer during the long Thanksgiving weekend, or I would have complained about three upsetting pieces in the New York Times: Sarah Schulman’s bone-headed oped about how Israel uses its commitment to gay rights to “pinkwash” its treatment of Palestinians (a piece that could be summarized as “God forbid anyone says something nice about Israel”) and two, count ‘em, two articles in Sunday’s Review section about Israel’s ethical quandaries.
Taken in isolation, the Sunday pieces are justifiable: Jim Schachter writes a thoughtful essay about his family’s long distance debates over Israel; Gershom Gorenberg writes a searing indictment about how settlers are aiming to “re-Judaize” neighborhoods in Israel and are thus “reimporting the message of Jewish-Arab struggle.”
But it’s a big and troubled word out there, and you have to wonder why one small country would get so much attention — of the “Israel fails to live up to its democratic ideals” variety — in one section of one paper. (Not to mention the baffling headline some editor slapped on Gorenberg’s piece, “Israel’s Other Occupation.”)
But of course, J.J. Goldberg got there first, dissecting Schulman’s piece and the Gorenberg headline, and asking the structural question that must be asked:
I don’t usually buy into Times-as-anti-Israel blather, but the “Pinkwashing” piece was beyond inexplicable and the headline on Gershom’s piece is the second clunker in less than a week. Is the Times’ new op-ed editor, a former fashion and culture maven, that dim on Middle East politics? Does she not read her page’s headlines? Is she trying to make trouble for her bosses? Or is this what she thinks?
There were also some great responses to the “pinkwashing” piece in the Times’ Letters section.