Uzi Benziman

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Uzi Benziman (1941-) was a diplomatic and political columnist for Ha'aretz. He covered Israeli politics and diplomacy for more than four decades – on 28 September 2008, he wrote: "today, ... I conclude 43 years of writing for Haaretz".

He was the Ha'aretz parliamentary reporter in the 1970s, diplomatic reporter from 1977-82, and Washington correspondent in the mid-80s.

Benziman was a member of the Ha'aretz editorial board and wrote a weekly column in the Friday edition of the paper. He is the author of several books, including a biography of Sharon, called "Israeli Ceasar." The most recent of his books deals with Sharon's lawsuit against him and Ha'aretz for his assertion, in an op-ed, that Sharon misled Begin on the Lebanon War. The court ruled against Sharon.

This all sounds good. However, it may be useful to bear in mind the following comments written in March 2001, by Ran HaCohen, on his politics and style of journalism:

To illustrate this, let us look at a representative column published recently in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. There is nothing special about this column, written by Uzi Benziman, a senior columnist with a clear anti-occupation commitment: its argument would be repeated almost verbatim by most Israelis on the dovish side. In his weekend column of 16th March, Benziman relates a recent Israeli atrocity: what he calls "setting up a tight blockade around the [Palestinian] city [of Ramallah] to try to block all access in either direction" (note how painstakingly he is avoiding the more concise term "siege"). Benziman mentions the official reason given for the siege by the Israeli army (a purported Palestinian plan to bring a car bomb from Ramallah into Jerusalem), falls short of criticizing it (why then were the other Palestinian towns besieged too?), refers to the international outcry against the suffering caused to the residents of Ramallah, and sums up:
"And so, after environmental closures, targeted assassinations, helicopter attacks, artillery fire, uprooting of orchards and dissecting the territories had already been deemed unacceptable, the government and the Israel Defense Forces were now being asked to remove the tight blockade from the repertoire of deterrent and punishing measures used to contend with Palestinian terror attacks."

Being a dove, Benziman must condemn all those atrocities. He admits:

"Ostensibly, these demands are wholly justifiable: Collective punishment harms innocents, and pinpoint sniping is akin to execution without trial. This Israeli violence does not effect a weakening of Palestinian violence and does not help to resolve the bloody conflict gripping both sides."

So Benziman indeed finds the actions neither moral nor constructive. But here comes the 'but':

"Still, the Israeli side might rightly wonder: Just what method is legitimate and permissible to use in order to combat murderous Palestinian terror? What retaliatory or deterrent measure will the world find acceptable? And if you say that ending the occupation and withdrawing to the 1967 lines is the formula for halting the cycle of violence, how do you reply to the argument that this option was tried nearly in full (by Ehud Barak) only to be met by the stubborn demand for the realization of the right of return?"
This is exactly where the legacy of Barak comes in. Read this passage carefully. Observe how the imperative to end the occupation is supplanted by a reference to Barak's negotiations with Arafat. Those nebulous negotiations, according to Benziman, actually mean that Israel has "tried nearly in full"(!) the option of "ending the occupation and withdrawing to the 1967 lines"(!) – whereas in reality, as we all know, Israel has neither taken a single actual measure towards ending the occupation, nor withdrawn a single step towards the 1967 lines!

See this Wikipedia (Hebrew) article     (English translation)

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Number of quotations: 7

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