Few New York Times stories have been as boring or irrelevant as Jeff Zeleny‘s aptly headlined “Obama Meets With Israeli and Palestinian Leaders.”
If a U.S. newspaper dared to print what the major Israeli paper Haaretz ran yesterday about Barack Obama‘s Middle East schmooze — Aluf Benn‘s analysis titled “Obama visiting Israel to impress Jewish voters, not Israelis” — the paranoid Jewish establishment types in this country would howl with rage and hint at anti-Semitism.
Israel is too touchy a topic for the U.S. journalism establishment. The funny thing is that the only U.S. papers that really cover the intrigue of political relations between Israel and the U.S. are the Jewish papers, primarily Forward.
Benn’s analysis in Haaretz is a must-read, summed up by this passage:
Newspapers may be increasingly irrelevant in the U.S., but not in Israel, where people are still addicted to them and the press culture is vibrant, contentious, lively, and extremely literate. Sound unfamiliar?
Read the Israeli papers if you want to see what’s really going on over there with Obama and McCain and the Middle East quagmire.
Haaretz is a lefty paper, but it is one of three major dailies in Israel. As Gal Beckerman noted in his fascinating inside look at Israeli journalism in the May 2005 Columbia Journalism Review:
You don’t have to be Jewish to love Beckerman’s piece, which is long, but worthwhile.
On the other hand, you probably do have to be Jewish — and a member of the Jewish establishment — to love the well-put-together Daily Alert from the heart of that establishment, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman headed from 2001 to 2003.
In other words, don’t look for any cogent analysis of the Middle East in Zuckerman’s paper.