Since Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister in March 2009, Israeli forces have killed approximately 3,500 Palestinians.
Netanyahu has helped to make the world a more dangerous place through his belligerence toward Iran and by joining an international club of hard right pyromaniacs like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Donald Trump in the US and Narendra Modi in India.
With Netanyahu at the helm, Israel has formally accorded its Palestinian citizens an inferior status to Jews. Efforts have been made to expel African refugees en masse. Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have been bombed.
And now Netanyahu has promised to annex Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.
If Israel was the model democracy it claims to be, then its media would be calling out Netanyahu’s aggression at every available opportunity. Gil Hoffman, the chief political correspondent with The Jerusalem Post, evidently does not see that as part of his job.
For Hoffman, the top story last Sunday was how Netanyahu got the name of his British counterpart wrong.
Compared to the very real crimes against humanity that Netanyahu has committed, it was no more than a slip of the tongue that he should refer to Boris Johnson as “Boris Yeltsin.” Yet Hoffman reported the mistake as if it was something serious, also tweeting that it was atypical for Netanyahu as he is “normally so polished.”
Salesperson for weapons industry?
Hoffman has been exposed to large quantities of Netanyahu’s polish. Accompanying Netanyahu on his recent visit to London, Hoffman served as a dutiful stenographer.
There were aspects of Netanyahu’s trip that were highly suspicious. Netanyahu held talks with both Boris Johnson and Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, while the visit preceded a major London weapons fair which has a strong Israeli participation.
A proper journalist would have grilled Netanyahu on whether he was acting as a salesperson for Israel’s weapons industry. But Hoffman actually admitted that reporters “acquiesced” when Netanyahu decided what they could talk about on the return flight.
Admittedly, the topic on Netanyahu’s mind was an important one: the installation of surveillance cameras in polling stations. In April this year, Netanyahu’s Likud party illegally spied on Palestinian citizens of Israel during a general election.
Netanyahu has been subsequently trying to have the practice authorized by presenting it as a safeguard against voter fraud.
The whole dossier reeks of racism. Palestinian citizens of Israel are once again being painted as a threat by Netanyahu. He has previously urged Jewish Israelis to treat elections as akin to a military call-up by warning that “the Arabs are advancing on the ballot boxes in droves.”
If Netanyahu is adamant that he talks about cameras in polling stations, then journalists should expose the bigoted nature of the proposal. Hoffman has instead “analyzed” how concentrating on the topic distracts from the allegations of corruption against the prime minister.
Worse, Hoffman has effectively excused Netanyahu by emphasizing that he “wants the cameras everywhere,” not only in towns with a high number of Palestinian residents.
Following the April general election, Avigdor Lieberman, a far right firebrand, scuppered attempts to form a ruling coalition led by Netanyahu. Lieberman made joining a government conditional on the introduction of military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews, something that was unacceptable to his likely coalition partners.
And so voters are being called to the polls again next week.
The central question of the new election is the same as the one in April: which war criminal will head the next government? Will it be Netanyahu, who has ordered a series of massacres in Gaza, or Benny Gantz, until recently the army boss who carried out those orders?
That much should be obvious to seasoned observers of Israeli politics. But it is not an issue that a top “political correspondent” like Gil Hoffman appears willing to address.
On the contrary, Hoffman has cited advertisements in which Gantz alludes to his military record as examples of “positive” campaigning. He neglected to remind readers that Gantz used one such ad earlier this year to brag of sending Gaza back to the “stone age” by commanding a major 2014 assault.
Hoffman is not an objective journalist by any stretch of the imagination. His own biographical note states that he is a reservist in the Israeli military spokesperson’s unit – its main propaganda office.
Much in demand as a pundit, Hoffman’s commentary often bears no resemblance to reality. Speaking on the Russian channel RT in March, he described Gantz as “someone who wants to make peace with the Palestinians.”
Luckily for Hoffman, he was not challenged to provide evidence that would back up the assertion. No such evidence exists.
Far from coveting peace, Gantz has strongly indicated he wishes to continue the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Lately, he has even attempted to sell the occupation as beneficial to Palestinians.
Soon after he depicted Gantz as a dove, Hoffman met the man himself.
Because Gantz is “very tall,” Hoffman had to sit on four pillows “so we will be at eye level,” he tweeted. The accompanying photo seems to show Hoffman gazing at Gantz in admiration.
According to Hoffman, Gantz “revealed” that he has traveled throughout the US by motorcycle.
The “revelation” was telling. When Gil Hoffman interviews war criminals, he guarantees them an easy ride.