Thursday, December 27, 2007

Al-aretz editor hits bottom, digs

Israelis are known for being direct and blunt. But comments made by David Landau, editor of the Israeli daily, Haaretz, to Condoleezza Rice about Israel needing to be “raped” by the U.S. to achieve a Mideast settlement caused quite a stir among the 20 or so attendees at a confidential briefing with the secretary of state on a recent visit to Israel.

The incident, which took place Sept. 10 at the private residence of America’s ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, has not been fully reported until now. What is contested is not the raw language Landau used but the context of his impassioned comments.

Following Rice’s briefing to the gathered military, academic and media elites at the dinner, the guests offered their views and comments about the Mideast impasse. Landau, who was seated next to Rice, was said to have referred to Israel as a “failed state” politically, one in need of a U.S.-imposed settlement. He was said to have implored Rice to intervene, asserting that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” and that it would be like a “wet dream” for him to see this happen.

When contacted this week, Landau said the description was “inaccurate” and “a perversion of what I said.” He said his views had been delivered with “much more sophistication.”

But he added: “I did say that in general, Israel wants to be raped — I did use that word — by the U.S., and I myself have long felt Israel needed more vigorous U.S. intervention in the affairs of the Middle East.”
In a vacuum, it would be merely shocking to read that the editor of Israel's leading daily newspaper wants to see his nation "raped" by the US.

But in context when Landau has already admitted that he doesn't even pretend to pursue an objective journalistic policy, where he actively uses his newspaper as a thinly-veiled propaganda tool, this is beyond the pale of even the most liberal, freedom-loving democracy. It is not democratic to ask a foreign government to actively undermine your own government's policy. If Ha'aretz' news policy is to encourage outside nations to force Israel to do things most Israelis don't want, that is closer to sedition than free speech.

(h/t My Right Word)

UPDATE: See Augean Stables, Backspin, Israel Insider.