Jewish Leaders Demand Explanation From New York Times After Publication of Chart Listing Jews in Congress Who Oppose Nuclear Deal
Leading Jewish organizations slammed The New York Times on Thursday for publishing an infographic listing Jewish Congressional Democrats who oppose the Iran nuclear deal.
The chart listed anti-deal Democrats in the House and Senate in columns, one of which was headed “Jewish?” Another showed the lawmakers’ “District and estimated Jewish population.”
The text accompanying the graphic pointed out that, “Though more Jewish members of Congress support the deal than oppose it, the Democrats against the deal are more likely to be Jewish or represent Jewish constituencies.”
Responding to the publication, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Jewish human rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), described the chart as “a grotesque insult to the intelligence of those voting on the deal,” and warned against the connotations its publication evokes.
Cooper told The Algemeiner that the point The New York Times appeared to be trying to make is “flawed, mistaken and inappropriate.”
He said the piece suggests the “core opposition” to the nuclear deal is only from Jews, and that the only possible explanation as to why lawmakers would vote against it is “because of the Jewish factor.”
“That is wrong,” he said. “The idea of reducing this whole issue to the ethnicity and religion of an American voter is to essentially reduce the entire question about the nuclear deal. It beclouds the issue.”
Cooper said it would be “appropriate” for The New York Times to “explain themselves.”
“What exactly is the point behind this article?” he asked, and wondered whether such categorization is applied by the paper to other key issues.
“Are we going to see every immigration bill or debate in the U.S. Congress and Capitol Hill analyzed and broken down with graphs by The New York Times based on the Latino population of each district? Is this the new math?”
Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the chart “offensive,” and said he would like to see The New York Times print an “admission of error.” He said the graph “reinforces stereotypes about American Jews and dual loyalty” and “distracts from real issues.”
Social media has also been abuzz with criticism of the chart. Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, poked fun at the article on Twitter, saying, “[It] would be helpful if the Times would also tell us just how Jewish each Jewish member of Congress is.”
Haaretz correspondent Allison Kaplan Sommer said that only The New York Times would “have the chutzpah to make a Jewcentric chart like this.” Asserting that any other media outlet would fear being accused of antisemitism for publishing such a graph, she concluded, “I confess … it creeps me out a bit.”
Jewish blogger Pop Chassid said the chart conjured up images of the persecution of Jews. “The New York Times just counted which Jews voted against the Iran deal…We Jews remember when we’ve been counted in history, and we know that it never ends well,” he posted on Facebook.
Following the backlash, The New York Times quickly modified its original post — by removing the “Jew” column from its chart of politicians opposing the Iran deal — but did not issue a correction.
On Thursday afternoon, New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman claimed responsibility on Twitter for the article, but refused to apologize for the piece. He also claimed to be shocked by the response it has received.
“I take responsibility, wanted to examine what was motivating few Dems opposed to the deal. I am not self-hating Jew,” said Weisman, who is Jewish. “It is an informative graphic & I’m stunned by response. Chill out, people. You’ve never used a yellow highlighter?”