An Extreme Reversal
After years of avoiding describing right-wing Jewish extremists as, well, extremists, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein is suddenly tossing the word around.
By Terry Krepel
Aaron Klein is not unfamiliar with Jewish extremism in the West Bank and Gaza. He just has a history of whitewashing it:
Of all the words Klein used to describe these people, there was one that pretty much avoided: extremist.
So why is Klein suddenly throwing the word around now to describe certain Jews?
In a Sept. 29 article, Klein asked: "Is the Israeli government leading a campaign to de-legitimize Jewish settlers who live in the West Bank territory slated to become part of a Palestinian state if current negotiations are pushed through?"
Klein began by claiming that "authorities blamed a series of extremist acts on the Jews of Gush Katif, the former Jewish communities of Gaza" during the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 when "many of the acts in question actually were carried out by extremist elements with dubious connections to fringe Jewish organizations from outside Gaza, unconnected to and unsupported by Gush Katif or the larger settler movement," adding:
A case in point was the extremism of protesters inside the Palm Beach Hotel, a rundown former Jewish beachside resort on the shores of Gaza that had been utilized as a staging ground for a group of rowdy protesters who came to Gush Katif to oppose Israel's Gaza evacuation. The Jews inside the hotel staged several events provoking Israeli forces, and even were involved with some run-ins with local Arabs, although it seemed the Arabs had started the confrontations.
But when Klein covered the Israeli withdrawal from Gush Katif for WND in the summer of 2005, at no time did he describe any of the events there as being perpetrated by "extremists":
Similarly, Klein's contemporaneous reporting on the Palm Beach Hotel incident did not find any "extremists" involved there from his point of view -- he described them only as "anti-withdrawal activists." The only time the word appears is when Klein quoted Israeli officials asserting "provocations by right-wing extremists." If, as Klein claimed, " the Israeli and international media did not distinguish Gaza's Jews from the outside provocateurs at the hotel," Klein really didn't either.
Of course, Klein's refusal to see "extremism" back then and to make little, if any, distinction between what he is now portraying as workaday settlers and the likes of Eden Natan-Zada, Yekutel Ben Yaacov and Shlomit Bar-Kochba. Now he's working overtime -- variations on "extremist" appear 13 times in his Sept. 29 article, while "fringe" appears five times.
Klein asserts that "The news here the past few weeks has been filled with reports of 'extremist' West Bank settlers engaged in violence against Palestinians and Israeli troops." But he cites only a few examples -- one of which he seems to justify.
Klein noted a pipe bomb explosion outside the home of Zeev Sternhell, a peace activist Klein described only as "an extreme leftist Israeli professor ... who is a prominent proponent of expelling Jews from the West Bank." Klein offers no evidence that Sternhell is an "extreme leftist" or that "expelling Jews from the West Bank" is inherently an "extreme leftist" position.
At no point did Klein ascribe any political ideology to anyone else in his article. Nor does acknowledge that if having Jews leave the West Bank is "extreme leftist," its opposite -- removing Palestinians from the West Bank -- would thus be an "extreme right" view.
Removing Palestinians and Arabs from not just the West Bank and Gaza but from Israel proper was a key component of the Kach/Kahane Chai movement. And Klein, in November 2007, wrote favorably of what could be termed a more moderate version of that stance: a plan, called the Israeli Initiative, to pay Palestinians to leave the West Bank and for Israel to take full possession of it. As might be expected, nowhere did Klein describe the plan or its chief promoter, Benny Elon, as "extreme right" even though Elon is chairman of the right-wing National Union party.
Klein repeated his point in an Oct. 2 article featuring an Israeli politician, David Rotem, making the same claim. But while Klein again called Sternhell an "extreme leftist," he described Rotem only as a "nationalist." In fact, Rotem is a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, which believes that Arabs should not allowed to become Israeli citizens and opposed the 2005 disengagement from Gush Katif and Gaza.
An Oct. 4 article by Klein, meanwhile, went into conspiracy-theory territory, reporting that "[a] prominent leader of the West Bank's Jewish communities has accused Israel's security forces of orchestrating a recent attack on an extreme leftist Israeli professor and then using the attack to demonize West Bank Jews ahead of an expected evacuation of the territory":
Settler leader Daniela Weiss today charged the attack was orchestrated by Israel's Shin Bet Security Services to turn public opinion against the settlers.
What Klein doesn't tell you: Weiss' current criminal history. From an Oct. 3 Israel National News article:
Weiss was charged Friday with assaulting a police officer, interfering with legal proceedings and hindering a police officer in the performance of his duty. Police said she harassed and attacked police officers while resisting her own arrest. They also claimed that she "touched" a vehicle which earlier carried three Jews suspected of setting fire to an Arab olive grove at Kadum Thursday.
Isn't Weiss' background relevant to the issue of allegations of violence and criminality among Jews in the West Bank, which Klein has been focused upon of late?
Perhaps Klein didn't report it because it would undermine his whole thesis: that there aren't any "extremist" settlers living in the West Bank.
Note that, again, Klein makes sure to call Sternhell an "extreme leftist Israeli professor" and, again, is the only person in the article identified by political ideology.
Indeed, the words "right" or "conservative" are found nowhere in any of Klein's articles -- not even to describe the "extremists" he suddenly abhors. Nor does Klein name any of the "fringe Jewish organizations" he purports to be behind the "extremist" violence.
Apparently, Aaron Klein is not ready to be that extreme -- or that honest as a reporter.