Does Washington Post journalist think anti-fascists are bigger danger than neo-Nazis?

Ruth Eglash (unaoc)

Ruth Eglash, a Jerusalem-based Washington Post journalist, last week liked a Facebook post by Yair Netanyahu suggesting that anti-fascists and activists with Black Lives Matter are a bigger threat to Israel – and perhaps to Jews throughout the world – than the neo-Nazis whose recent rampage in Charlottesville left one person dead.

Yair Netanyahu, 26, is the eldest son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“To put things in perspective. I’m a Jew, I’m an Israeli, the neo nazis scums in Virginia hate me and my country. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out,” Netanyahu wrote. “However the thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”

This is not the first time Yair Netanyahu’s social media postings and obnoxious behavior have caused controversy.

While US President Donald Trump was widely denounced for equating violent white supremacists with those who oppose them, the younger Netanyahu is going a step further: he is saying that Nazis are bad, but those who advance equal rights for all people are the greater danger.

By liking the post, Eglash – who is on the board of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem – gives the impression that she agrees with Netanyahu’s position downplaying the dangers of white supremacists. The incident calls into question the judgment of the newspaper’s staff in Jerusalem and Washington.

She and Washington Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl did not respond to inquiries from The Electronic Intifada.

Under the newspaper’s social media guidelines, Post journalists “must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything … that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism.”

The guidelines urge journalists to consider whether a social media posting would “make a reader question my ability to do my job objectively and professionally … If so, don’t post it.”

When Eglash was hired in 2013, The Electronic Intifada reported a potential conflict of interest: Her husband heads a company that has for years been deeply involved in efforts to promote Israel and Israeli government policy.

In 2014, the year Israel launched its most recent massive attack on Gaza, Michael Eglash’s public relations firm Upstart Ideas listed as clients Israel’s foreign ministry, tourism ministry and several pro-Israel groups. The company no longer publishes its client list.

Presidential obliviousness – and worse

With hundreds of armed white supremacists and Nazis marching through Charlottesville earlier this month shouting racist and anti-Semitic slurs, Yair Netanyahu’s judgment that such people are “dying out” is misplaced and complacent.

The racist extreme right has used social media and a bigoted American president – embraced by Prime Minister Netanyahu – to promote itself and a violent supremacist intimidation rarely seen at such an organized level in recent decades.

Trump, who has been quick to condemn Islamic State, Muslims fleeing Islamic State and Muslims more generally, has been roundly condemned for his apologetic response toward the violence promoted by armed white supremacists marching through an American city. There is significant concern his thoughtless “both sides” approach makes future violence more likely.

Trump’s moral equivalency whitewashes the white supremacist violence that killed, enslaved and displaced millions of Black people and Native Americans, and which continues to damage and destroy lives through both direct and myriad forms of institutionalized racist violence that Michelle Alexander has characterized as the New Jim Crow.

According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, about one in 10 Americans now regards neo-Nazi and white supremacist views as acceptable, and a similar number hold no opinion. Trump is helping to mainstream such dangerous attitudes while leaving others in doubt.

Reporting while morally equating?

Eglash did co-write an article noting that Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders had taken a strikingly long time to express concern about what transpired in Charlottesville.

It also notes that Yair Netanyahu expressed views echoing those of Trump. But by no means does this excuse her ill-considered Facebook like.

The elder Netanyahu appears not to have separated himself from his son’s remarks. Nor has the foreign desk of The Washington Post distanced itself from Eglash’s Facebook like or even attempted to clarify what led her to give a thumb’s up to such a hateful post in the first place.

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Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, TheNation.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.