In a series of Tweets, Asaf Ronel, world news editor of Haaretz, declared that he is an anti-Zionist. No, he’s not some off-the-wall opinion writer thrown into the newspaper for shock value: he’s the world news editor.
— Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) July 16, 2017
Ronel followed up his initial statement (above) by calling apartheid in Israel “reality,” and clarifying that such “apartheid” began in 1948.
In case you don’t have Twitter, or in the event this conversation gets subsequently deleted, you can follow some of the conversation in these screen shots:
Not just Ronel
The anti-Israel activist agenda at Haaretz is not limited to its international news editor: HonestReporting previously addressed the statements of the newspaper’s owner, Amos Schocken that Haaretz is striving not for objective and accurate reporting but for promoting a political and campaigning agenda.
Haaretz against Israel’s existence?
Zionism is commonly understood to be the support for Jewish self-determination in the land of Israel. Which begs the question, if Ronel opposes Zionism, is there any way to understand his statements other than that he opposes the existence of Israel, or at least the existence of a Jewish homeland in Israel? And if Ronel represents the editorial policy of Haaretz, is there any possible conclusion other than that it is Haaretz policy to oppose Israel’s very existence?
The person debating against Ronel in the above Twitter conversation is Dr. Emmanuel Navon, an International Relations expert who teaches at Tel-Aviv University and at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center and is a Senior Fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum. Navon weighed in on the topic saying:
What is the difference between blaming the Jewish people and blaming the Jewish state for the world’s ills?
Denying sovereignty only to the Jews is discriminatory. So is saying that only Jewish sovereignty intrinsically immoral.
Mainstream Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur (Senior Analyst for Times of Israel) also weighed in via Twitter:
I know, I know, it's getting tiresome. Just pointing out that Haaretz's world news editor literally declares himself anti-Zionist. https://t.co/Xom8CEZLqy
— Haviv Rettig Gur (@havivrettiggur) July 17, 2017
Gur adds on his Facebook page in relevant part:
Something dishonest is happening at Haaretz, and it’s a damn shame. We need a progressive voice in this country that doesn’t let itself turn into a fawning parrot for the latest anti-Zionist fashion abroad, but speaks to us Israelis, to our experience and concerns, and tries to convince us its vision is better. That’s not Haaretz, at least not anymore.
Ronel vs. HonestReporting
Asaf even took a crack at HonestReporting in the following tweet:
We encourage your free speech & point out that accusing Israel of apartheid since 48 isn't commenting on Israeli policy but its legitimacy pic.twitter.com/LIp5rUyPiC
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) July 17, 2017
In light of Ronel’s reply invoking the concept of “free speech,” we simply have to ask: if the best you can say about your writing is that it isn’t outright illegal, isn’t that setting the bar a little low for a professional journalist?
Put another way, just because you have the right to say something, that doesn’t mean you are right to say it.
Of course, Ronel is not even a journalist at all: by his own admission, he is really an agenda driven activist. And while free speech means that disguising activism as “journalism” cannot get you thrown in jail, it should certainly get you thrown out of a newspaper office.
Why is this a problem?
Unlike commentary or opinion writing, a professional news editor must embody the values of openness and impartiality. This is essential in order to convey accurate information to news readers. Can an anti-Zionist editor who believes Israel is an apartheid state really be capable of reporting on Israel in a manner that is accurate and impartial?
Unfortunately, foreign news outlets often quote Haaretz, misrepresenting it as a mainstream Israeli voice, even though Haaretz’s circulation is only 3.9% of Israeli news readers. This gives news readers around the world an inaccurate understanding of Israel and of Israelis.
Haaretz’s ownership and international news editors not only fail to embody the values of professional journalism, but are publicly stating that they do not even wish to. There is nothing wrong with having a personal agenda, but disguising an agenda as “journalism,” is misleading and harmful to news audiences, as well to the news profession itself.
Simon Plosker, HR’s Managing Editor, comments:
While a tenacious and free Israeli media are a vital part of Israel’s democracy, Haaretz, and particularly its English-language site, plays a significant role in the demonization of Israel. Many foreign journalists find the most negative stories to publish straight from Haaretz. It’s time that they acknowledge that Haaretz is wholly unrepresentative of Israel and Israeli society. This appalling rant by Asaf Ronel on Twitter is further confirmation of Haaretz’s openly hateful agenda that permeates from editorial all the way to its owner Amos Schocken.
In short, if Haaretz truly cannot bring itself to start behaving like an actual newspaper, then it should stop calling itself one. Perhaps the “Haaretz Anti-Zionism Advocacy Organization,” would be a good name. At least it would be honest.