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May 15, 2015 3:20 pm

Public Editor Rebukes New York Times Reporter for Asking Jewish PhD Candidate ‘Demeaning’ Questions

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The New York Times Editor weighs in on 'demeaning' questions to Jewish PhD student. Photo: Screenshot.

A reporter for the New York Times came under fire for asking a Jewish Ph.D. candidate “insulting and demeaning” questions for an article on the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses across the U.S.

The questions that University of California, Berkeley candidate David McCleary was asked included whether he “looked Jewish” given his apparently non-Jewish sounding last name and whether he had been bar mitzvahed.

Writing to the office of the New York Times public editor, whose job it is to respond to questions of newspaper integrity, McCleary said he was “displeased” that his remarks were withheld from the ultimate publication of the story and that no Jewish student who supports the BDS movement on campuses was quoted.

McCleary’s complaint to the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, who in the end agreed that such questioning was “unprofessional and unacceptable,” underlines the hubbub around an article published by the newspaper last Saturday about the BDS movement and its consequences on college campuses.

Responding to Sullivan’s admission, McCleary told the Algemeiner: “While the Jewish litmus test I received was offensive, it isn’t nearly as offensive as the New York Times ignoring my voice and thousands like me who are Jewish students in favor of BDS for Israel.”

Critics of the story have argued that the piece itself did not provide much evidence to back the complaint of its headline, which states that the BDS issue “drives a wedge” between Jews and minority groups on campus.

“To make this into a ‘Minority vs. Jewish’ question, without supplying evidence, is to distort the issue,” said David Nasaw, the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. professor of history at Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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  • Lynne T

    McCleary’s compliant is ludicrous. The questions were not demeaning so much as to get some context for his avowed support for BDS.

  • Mickey Segal

    Who decided the order of terms to be Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions? Sanctions, Boycott, Divestment seems more fitting.

  • Mike Harris

    And neither one of those is as offensive as McCleary himself, who among his activities includes being involved in the pro-Hamas “Block The Boat” movement in Oakland last summer.

    The Times reporter may actually have been entirely on the mark with appropriate questions on this one, given that the phenomenon of non-Jews posing as Jews to give credibility to their anti-Israel activities is not new. See under “Schiavone, Gabriel” and “Gutierrez, Andrew”.

  • sid laufer

    this is to be expected from the new York times.

  • Jews who support BDS are both ignorant and forgetting what history teaches us. If Jews don’t look after each other we are doomed to suffer the evils of growing antisemitism. Jews, your loyalties are to each other, not terrorist organizations like PLO and Hamas.

    • George Jarrold

      I’m afraid these Jews have sacrificed their Jewish identity for their Marxism and totally irrational hatred of the West and their own people,culture and history. The Irony is that when/if Islam does get to dominate the West these people will still be dhimmis along with the rest of us. Even if they convert to Islam they will never be trusted.

  • Michael Levy

    You know what McCleary, you took offence to the way you were questioned by the press did you?! You are also in favour of the BDS movement are you? On what basis is this? You and thousands of others?!! You don’t live in Israel so you can’t understand what it’s like to have at least 1000 rockets from just one of your neighbours, waiting to strike at you. You are a disgrace to the nation of Jews! I don’t care whether or not you look like a Jew or whether you have been Barmitzvahed or not and I really don’t care but do the proper Jews a favour and relinquish you claim to be Jewish for you don’t deserve to be one.

  • Howard Jaeckel

    It is ironic, though by no means surprising, that Ms. Sullivan has chosen to respond to a complaint from a Jewish SUPPORTER of the BDS movement. I have submitted numerous meticulously documented complaints to Ms. Sullivan and her predecessors about liberal — and specifically anti-Israel — bias in the Times’ reporting. These complaints raised issues that no fair-minded journalist could have easily dismissed as insubstantial. Yet they were all simply stonewalled by the NYT public editors — no reply was forthcoming, despite my prompting in several follow-up messages. At the same time, Ms. Sullivan chose publicly to respond to one complaint of much lesser substance alleging bias against the Palestinian cause in a headline .

    The Times created the public editor position in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal. It was purely a public relations move. The NYT public editor does not, in fact, fairly address bias complaints, at least if they come from conservatives. In holding out the public editor as a fair-minded ombudsman, the NYT perpetrates a fraud on its readers. The position should be abolished.

  • David Mandel

    I understand the reason for the reporter’s “demeaning” questions. A person who is pro BDS, in other words pro the destruction of Israel, and has a last name which is not usually associated with the Jewish people,is probably not Jewish.
    The reporter was simply trying to ascertain if he was really Jewish or not with no malicious intent.
    If I would have been the interviewer I would have asked the same questions.
    I don’t think that it is demeaning to be asked if one was bar mitzvad. The offense taken reminds me of Shakespeare’s quote: “the lady protests too much”.

    • George Jarrold

      The real issue is the anti Jewish hysteria that seems to be raging through American Academia and University must be investigated and stamped out and those stoking the fires of hatred sacked or expelled Not only are the Jews ,again,the victims,but they are getting all the blame while the real enemies of peace and sanity get away Scot free. It defies logic. Genuine debate of opinions are always welcome but this is a one sided tirade of hatred by the American lefties. It MUST stop.

  • Fred

    The New York Stuermer is doing its best to emulate the Hitler version. The editors vie for the Julius Schtreicher prize for best version of anti Semitic articles. Their library must have good examples. How happy they serve the Arab money bags.

  • kern

    Since David McCleary was making a point of being a Jew in order to support the anti-Semitic BDS movement, there was clearly nothing wrong in the reporter seeking to confirm his bona fides.

    I don’t know why he even mentioned that he is Jewish in order to lean authority for his views. Anti-Semitic Jews are neither rare nor have anything of particular value to contribute to any discussion.

    Believe me, if McCleary had anything to say that was detrimental to Israel, the author of that pernicious article would have included it.

  • citizenstat

    It took a bit for me to get the sense of the article: The erstwhile “Jewish” McCleary was offended by the reporter’s attempt to ascertain his claim of Jewishness. The irony here is nearly overwhelming: The NYT editors, while happily printing any and all anti-Israel invective, will remonstrate with one of its own reporters for trying to ascertain the facts for an article. The smut adhering to the “Grey Lady’s” skirts gets darker and darker.

  • Theodore D. Sternberg

    If Reb McCleary is going to be involved in politics, and moreso deploy his alleged Jewishness as a tool, he should grow a thicker skin. I’ve never known any Jew to object about being asked those wuestions, and I strongly suspect that in Reb McCleary’s case the answers are No.

  • brenrod

    those kapo BDS students should be the first to suffer anti semitism to teach the scum a lesson. Later they will moan and whine about the anti semitism which they themselves facilitated.

  • anon

    He doesn’t pass my litmus test. All the “Jewish” BDS-ers should be excommunicated.