The End of Hasbara? ‘NYT’ Readers Question US Support for Apartheid

The New York Times published a remarkable discussion yesterday. Alongside an article about Israel canceling a plan to segregate buses going to the West Bank so as to keep Palestinians off settlers’ buses, it published readers’ comments, and in both the editors’ selection and the readers’ selection, the comments were running against Israel.

In fact, the readers’ picks were almost completely one-sided. Here are some of them:

The plan to segregate buses is just one dramatic example of the dynamic at the heart of Israeli society. Israel in its entirety — not just Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem — is an apartheid state. — Tim Joseph of Columbus, Ohio.

Those separate roads for Israeli settlers and Palestinians show what Israel has become. Even in the worst days of the Jim Crow South in the United States, there weren’t separate roads for blacks and whites. — Scrim1, Bowie, Maryland.

As a Jew, I find this action appalling and allows people to question why the persecuted have become the persecutors.
The only way Israel can be reigned in is by the U.S. to stop its funding and halt the use of the veto at the UN. — littleninja2356, UK

While it is definitely a very small step in the right direction, Israel has a very long way to go if it ever wishes to be a true democracy. There remain Jewish roads only, millions of CAGED Palestinians who cannot move about freely or have the same rights that Jewish Israeli’s have. –Pickwick45, Endicott, NY

Rosa Parks turning in her grave. Why must U.S. taxpayers be forced, without any vote on the matter, to support Netanyahu’s right-wing regression to pre-Enlightenment values? — Nelson Alexander, NY.

And this in a country fully supported by the USA? — James McEntire, Chapel Hill, NC

The Israeli’s need to take a good, hard look at themselves if a policy like this could be introduced in 2015. They will never find peace going in this direction. — swm, Providence

That this is happening with my tax dollars infuriates me. The only reason they scrapped the “pilot” program (nothing pilot about it actually; see South Africa, Jim Crowe USA) was because of international disgust. — C, Brooklyn

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. MLK Jr  — Lucian Roosevelt, Barcelona

Sounds incredibly racist. however since they already have highways which prohibit cars w palestinian license plates, it is no surprise. it is so sad. and our tax dollars subsidize this. — Zieanna B., Wilmington, NC

And there you have it, that beacon of democracy in the Middle East, with segregated transport, stratified citizens and desirable/undesirable voters!  — NM, NY

You have to go very deep in the Readers’ favorite comments to get one that dismisses the apartheid analogy. Though several in the Editors’ picks do that work.

The comment section reflects a change in Israel’s image in the west. Hasbara is being overwhelmed. Despite the Times editors rigging the comments in their selection column, there is a change in the popular mood.

I believe this change has taken place in the last year or two, but it’s epitomized here. The momentum has shifted. More and more people, despite mainstream media bias, are becoming more and more aware. Bear in mind, it isn’t entirely a casual thing to comment at the Times.  These writers are energetic, and they are literate.

- Read more: The End of Hasbara? ‘NYT’ Readers Question US Support for Apartheid – James North, Mondoweiss


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