The New York Times: Enabler of Genocidal Anti-Semitism

How America's "paper of record" whitewashes Jew hatred by its silence.

In response to the uproar over its April publication of a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon, the Times first tweeted an acknowledgment that the cartoon was “offensive,” then posted an apology and finally - as the blowback continued - published a statement by the Editorial Board conceding the cartoon was “appalling” and its appearance in the paper’s international edition, at a time of resurgent targeting of Jews, was evidence “of numbness to [anti-Semitism’s] creep...”

One can agree with that assessment of the cartoon, but there are other elements of the Editorial Board statement that are grossly misleading and reflect a refusal to come to terms with the Times’ sordid track record regarding anti-Semitism.
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    On the Holocaust and its prelude in Germany, the statement declares: “In the 1930s and 1940s The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood. That failure still haunts this newspaper.”&nbsp; But it has obviously not haunted the paper enough to move it from its consistent refusal over many decades - despite its intense coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - to report on the incitement to mass murder of Jews that has long been a staple of Palestinian and broader Arab media, mosques and schools. It has failed to do so even as such incitement has in recent years become ever more widely established within the Muslim world.&nbsp; On the contrary, to the degree that the <em>Times,</em> in relatively rare moments, has noted the problem at all, it has typically done so to downplay it or even to ridicule concern with it.&nbsp;</div>

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    Emblematic is a piece by <em>Times </em>reporter William Orme published when Yasser Arafat was launching his terror war against Israel in the fall of 2000, a war that over the subsequent several years killed more than a thousand Israelis and maimed thousands more in a bombing campaign that targeted buses, restaurants, clubs and other public venues. On October 13, 2000, the day after the lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah, the official Palestinian Authority (PA) television station broadcast a sermon by Sheik Ahmad Halabaya in which the sheik declared: “Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews... They are terrorists. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the almighty said: Fight them; Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them... Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them...”</div>

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    Orme, in his <em>Times</em> article published eleven days later, notes Israeli complaints of the PA’s using its official media for incitement, and his tone is clearly dismissive of Israel’s concerns. He writes, “Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of the two soldiers. ‘Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews,’ proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.” This is all Orme’s piece says of the sermon; nothing about Halabaya’s exhortations to butcher Jews wherever one finds them, nothing about his invoking Allah as calling for the torture and murder of the Jews.</div>

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    Orme’s intent is clearly to make the Israeli complaints look unfounded and ridiculous. But beyond this, his omissions reflect the general <em>Times</em> policy - across the decades preceding this article and in the almost two decades since - of remaining virtually silent on Palestinian and broader Arab and Islamic anti-Semitism and its genocidal rhetoric and intent.</div>

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    The Palestinian Authority, as another tool in its promoting and incentivizing the murder of Jews, provides stipends to those who carry out such murders or are apprehended trying to do so, as well as to the families of Palestinians killed in attacks on Jews. While the PA acknowledges this policy of payments, the <em>Times</em>, in the spring of 2018, wrote that assertions of such a policy by critics of the PA were a “far-right conspiracy [theory].” In the face of criticism, it offered a correction, stating that the PA does, in fact, make such payments and that noting their doing so “is not a conspiracy theory.” Yet this spring, when Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt referenced the PA policy, the<em> Times</em> characterized Greenblatt’s remarks as merely an “accusation,” implicitly seeking to cast doubt on their veracity.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div>

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    In the domestic arena as well, the <em>Times </em>routinely seeks to downplay anti-Semitism and, insofar as it covers the subject, to give it a particular political slant. In its post-cartoon Editorial Board statement, the <em>Times</em> writes that, “The recent attacks on Jews in the United States have been carried out by men who identify as white supremacists, including the killing of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.” The claim is far too categorical regarding perpetrators and omits too much. For example, there have been many recent violent attacks on Jews in the <em>Times’ </em>virtual backyard of Brooklyn, carried out, as a May 12 op-ed in the <em>New York Post</em> noted, by assailants who were “black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, men, women.”An article in the April-May, 2017, edition of <em>The Tower,</em> “Who is Behind Anti-Semitic Attacks in the U.S.?” lists twelve “[p]lanned, attempted, or executed [violent] anti-Semitic attacks by Muslims” in the preceding twelve years. In addition, a number of imams in mosques across the United States - including at least six in 2017 - have urged violence against “Zionists” or openly called for the killing of Jews.</div>

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    In a fifteen-paragraph article entitled “Hate Crimes Increase for the Third Consecutive Year, F.B.I. Reports,” published on November 13, 2018 and covering FBI statistics for 2017, the <em>Times</em> did note that, “Of those targeted based on religion, 58 percent were Jewish.” (The second most common targets of religiously based hate crimes were Muslims, accounting for 18.6 percent.) There was no <em>Times</em> elaboration on the subject, including the perpetrators, in this piece or subsequently.&nbsp;</div>

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    The American institutional setting most associated with anti-Semitism in recent years has been the nation’s colleges and universities, where Jewish students, particularly if they express support for Israel, are commonly under attack by leftist and Muslim student and faculty groups hostile to Israel. On the scourge of Jew-baiting rife on so many American campuses, the <em>Times </em>has been essentially silent.</div>

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    Myriad voices in America, from law enforcement, religious communities, academic groups, political groups and elsewhere, have written and spoken recently of anti-Semitism becoming mainstream in the nation. One would not know of the threat from reading the <em>New York Times.</em>&nbsp;</div>

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    The failure of the paper to attend to the issue, its predilection over the decades to avoid addressing anti-Semitism both in domestic news coverage and in its jaundiced, hostile coverage of Israel, is not without consequence. (The claim, in the <em>Times’ </em>post-cartoon Editorial Board statement, that “We have been and remain stalwart supporters of Israel,” no doubt elicited a disbelieving laugh from many readers.) Not only has this failure rendered the newspaper, in effect, an enabler of anti-Semitism, it has prevented the paper from playing what could be a major role in countering Jew-hatred.</div>

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    Illustration of that potential role was provided by a <em>Times</em> article in early 2013. On January 14 of that year, the newspaper took what for it was a virtually unprecedented step: Not only did it publish a story touching on anti-Semitism, but it did so on the front page above the fold. (Some suggested that it did so because it had recently been subjected to increased criticism regarding its failure to report on Palestinian and broader Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism.)</div>

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    The story (which had been published elsewhere earlier but without the impact of the <em>Times </em>piece, the <em>Times</em> still to a large degree determining by its coverage what other news outlets, as well as policy-makers, perceive to be newsworthy) concerned then Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. It reported the recent release of tapes dating from 2010 in which Morsi - at the time head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s "political arm" - spouts what the <em>Times</em> itself characterizes as "anti-Semitic statements." It cites Morsi declaring, "We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred for... the Jews... The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him." Elsewhere, Morsi, referring to "Zionists," invokes the trope of "the descendants of apes and pigs," which the <em>Times </em>article describes as "a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world," and the article notes that Morsi "echoed [additional] historic anti-Semitic themes."</div>

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    Response to the piece was dramatic. It was picked up by many other media outlets, and the Obama Administration, which had been more than supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and was similarly supportive of Morsi, reacted by, in the words of one news provider, giving "a blistering review of remarks that... Morsi [had] made... about Jews and called for him to repudiate what it called unacceptable rhetoric. ... In blunt comments, the White House and State Department said Morsi's statements were ‘deeply offensive’ and ran counter to the goal of peace in the region."</div>

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    Morsi’s anti-Semitic comments also became the lead issue in his visit to Germany shortly after the <em>Times </em>piece. A story on <em>Der Spiegel</em>’s English website opened with, "Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi came in for some heavy criticism on his one-day trip to Berlin, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel taking him to task over his past comments describing Jews as ‘the descendants of apes and pigs’..."</div>

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    Response to the Morsi story is evidence of the potential power of the media, particularly the <em>Times</em>, in informing the public about the ugly phenomenon of incitement to Jew-hatred across the Muslim world, obliging world leaders to take note of the phenomenon and speak out against it, putting its purveyors on the defensive and making clear to the purveyors a cost to their genocidal hate-mongering. (Morsi was in Germany appealing for increased financial aid and was seeking the same from the Obama Administration.) The <em>Times</em> could have a similar impact with regard to domestic anti-Semitism.&nbsp;</div>

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    Or it can continue on its long-established, well-worn path, enabling by its silence the proliferation of genocidal anti-Semitism rather than acting as a force to challenge and counter it.</div>

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    <strong>Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of <em>The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege</em>.</strong></div>

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