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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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