Navigate to News section

Israel’s Paper of Record

Remnick, of The New Yorker, on Haaretz

Marc Tracy
February 22, 2011
Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken.(Michal Chelbin/The New Yorker)
Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken.(Michal Chelbin/The New Yorker)

The name of the Israeli daily Haaretz will be familiar to Scroll readers, its content familiar to Scroll readers who click on the links. For you, then, New Yorker editor David Remnick’s profile is essential reading. He is poignant on the tribulations faced by “easily the most liberal newspaper in Israel,” and paints a particularly convincing portrait of Amos Schoken, the daily’s embattled, left-wing, “aristocratic in a German-Jewish way” publisher.

One thing that threatens Haaretz is one thing that threatens Israel: The nation’s increased tribalism. “The secular, liberal readers who are willing to pay more than eight hundred dollars a year for a subscription live mainly in the greater Tel Aviv area and have a modest birth rate,” Remnick reports. “The settlers read Makor Rison, and the ultra-Orthodox read Hamodiya. ‘Middle Israel’ reads Maariv, which is declining; Israel Hayom, a free tablod that is owned by the right-wing casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; and Yedioth Ahronoth.” Two Jews, three newspapers. The other problem, of course, is that the paper’s center-left outlook, so in-tune during the heady optimism of the early ‘90s, seems out-of-touch after the Second Intifada.

The article is subscription-only. Buy the print magazine (in a piece of demographically savvy placement, there is in its midst an original poem by Paul Simon), or, if you’re a subscriber, read it online. In the meantime, below the jump are five great quotations. And if you want a feel for the paper, columnist Gideon Levy—who, Remnick notes in his sketch, has called the settlements a “criminal enterprise” and accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza—had a column last week comparing the prospect of Israeli schoolchildren visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron to the regular visits they make to Auschwitz. Curse it if you want, but recognize that it is indispensable: Yediot Ahronoth columnist Nahum Barnea, Remnick says, “spent a long time describing to me how ‘out of touch’ Haaretz was with public opinion, but then admitted that he begins his morning with it, not with his own paper.”

Remnick: “At their most recent meeting, [Schocken] brought Adelson a gift: A copy of Walid Khalidi’s All That Remains, a history of the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were destroyed or absorbed into Israel after 1948.”

Amira Hass, the only Jewish Israeli who reports from the territories as a lifestyle: “My tribe is leftists, not liberal Zionists. David Grossman and the rest are always waking up too late. That is their hallmark—understanding too late.”

Hannah Arendt, on Haaretz founder Salman Schocken: “Bismarck personified.”

David Makovsky, former U.S. diplomat: “When I go to the Arab world, the first thing an Arab foreign minister will say is ‘Did you read Haaretz this morning?’ They know everything about Israel from Haaretz.”

Remnick: “Sooner or later, nearly everyone on Haaretz gets called a Nazi.”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.