Eric Alterman, Nation
Writing in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Aluf Benn, editor in chief of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, surveys the Israeli landscape and concludes that recent transformations are rendering “the largely secular and progressive version of Israel that once captured the world’s imagination” obsolete. Benn notes that “Israel was always in some ways a fantasy,” though one with foundations in reality. Today, however, “that reality has changed, and the country that has replaced it is profoundly different from the one its founders imagined almost 70 years ago.”
I recently spent 10 days in Israel, where I spoke with Benn about the current state of the country as well as that of Haaretz—which New Yorker editor David Remnick, in a lengthy 2011 article, termed “easily the most liberal newspaper in Israel and arguably [its] most important liberal institution.” Though Haaretz is often compared to The New York Times in terms of its stature, the analogy worked only when the center of Israeli society was secular and socialist. Today it is neither, and Haaretz represents an increasingly beleaguered opposition that is both Jewish and democratic in a country that is now Jewish if you’re an Arab and democratic if you’re a Jew. ....