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September 16, 2015 7:16 am

The Jewish Problem at The New York Times

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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Office of The New York Times, in New York City. Photo: WikiCommons.

The New York Times offices. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The depths of the Jewish problem at The New York Times were glaringly exposed last week, when it published a chart identifying the Jewishness of congressional Democrats who opposed President Obama’s Iran surrender and providing the estimated Jewish population of their districts. Its antisemitic insinuation — that the primary loyalty of American lawmakers, as dictated by their Jewish constituents, is to Israel — prompted a well-deserved cascade of criticism.

The Times’s response to the outrage the September 10 publication elicited was as revealing as the article itself. Its disclaimer conceded only that the published chart “oversimplified a complex aspect of the debate.” Asserting that “the positions of Jewish members of Congress . . . were a legitimate subject for reporting,” it indicated that “under Times standards the religion or ethnicity of someone in the news can be noted” — but only “if that fact is relevant and the relevance is clear to readers.”

Judging by the outcry that ensued, the Times failed its own test. Will it now identify President Obama as the son of a Muslim father whenever his advocacy of the nuclear deal is discussed?

The Times was only prepared to acknowledge that its odious chart did not “make clear that Jewish voters and lawmakers, like other Americans, were sharply divided on the issue.” But noting the barrage of criticism it elicited, “Times editors agreed and decided to revise it,” by removing the column indicating which opponents to the deal were Jewish. It also published a correction noting that the Times had misstated – by nearly doubling – the number of Democratic opponents who are Jewish. So much for atonement.

Deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman, who claimed responsibility for the article, confessed to being “shocked”  by the response. Belligerently defensive, he hastened to add that he is “not a self-hating Jew.” He defended the graphic as “informative.” But even Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan conceded that the graphic was “insensitive and inappropriate.” Indeed, she added, it was “regrettably tone-deaf.” Nonetheless, she commended Times editors for taking “the right action in listening to the objections and changing it.”

To be sure, the Times had the decency to remove the yellow underlining of Jewish members of Congress, which reminded more than a few outraged readers of the yellow stars the Nazis required be worn by Jews to identify them. One wondered, “When did publishing lists of Jews come back into style?” Another responded: “I guess we should be grateful the New York Times chose not to illustrate its Jew tracker by awarding a six-pointed yellow Jewish badge to every Jewish opponent” of the Iran deal.

Apprehension over dual loyalty has haunted the Times ever since Adolph Ochs became its first Jewish publisher within months of the publication of Theodor Herzl’s appeal for Jewish statehood. Ochs’s embrace of Reform Judaism expressed religious conviction no less than the abiding fear that Jews might be judged guilty of dual loyalty if they identified with Zionism. His son-in-law and successor, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, who launched the family dynasty that still publishes the Times, was a stanch anti-Zionist during the Nazi era, who outspokenly opposed Jewish statehood lest American Jews be accused of divided loyalty.

But as its listing of Jewish lawmakers suggests, the Times remains imprisoned by the same apprehension over divided loyalty that has framed its policy on Zionism for nearly 120 years. That, of course, is a not an insignificant Biblical number (Genesis 6:3). But its recent blunder into one of the hoariest antisemitic stereotypes suggests that its uneasiness about Zionism and Israel, apprehension over dual loyalty and evident cluelessness about its own bias may still have a long life ahead.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Yale

    The great irony of the Times’ anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is that they see themselves as intellectuals but are incapable of recognizing that what they’re doing actually promotes exactly the perceptions they claim to be seeking to prevent.

    If they stopped promoting the idea that Jews who understand the Middle East are expressing “dual loyalty”, they would be able to do a better job reporting what’s actually happening there and simultaneously suppress the notion that being pro-Israel is a matter of “dual loyalty”. The Ties is, in this sense, an enemy of the journalism they claim they practice.

    Meanwhile, at the substantive level, how does the Times explain the opposition of Senators and Members of Congress who represent states and districts with very few Jews? The rationale they offer for opposing the deal simply collapses of its own lack of logic in these cases and they’re left with having to admit that a sane person will recognize that this deal is a travesty. Maybe “dual loyalty” should be attributed to the supporters of the deal. After all, they have put loyalty to Obama ahead of their obligations to constituents and the Constitution.

  • Sandy Wasserman

    Jerold Auerbach –
    I wish you could condense this excellent TOI review of the situation, the article, etc into 150-175 words and sum it up into yet another “NYT Letter to the Editor.” You made many additional points beyond what other ‘letters to the editor’ contained and it would be important and somewhat gratifying to see if the the NYT would have the guts to own up and print that, too.

  • Linda Miller

    Yellow journalism at its worst!

  • Greaseberg

    The NYT is unwavering regarding its support of leftist positions/issues. Liberal American Jews, particularly Reform Jews will swallow pro-Iranian Kool-Aid by the gallon, if such is what their “Chief Rabbi Obama” tells them to do. Sad.

    I find many more Christians concerned with Israel’s survival than I do Jews. Their motive may be different than mine, but they, unlike the majority of American Jews, don’t blame Israel for the problems in the Middle East…or in the U.S.

    • Mr Auerbach, yiu’re nuts!

      I saw nothing wrong with the NYT article!

      Those Jews who opposed the “deal” did it only to garner vote and moneys from their “supporters.

      Anyone with brains enough to see reason knows that your alternative would require us to bomb the nuclear facilities which requires very limited US resources and would have to be repeated ad infinitum.

      Those who think like you did not have the guts to admit that this would be the only reasonable alternative.

      Good Bye warmonger!

      • Arthur Sheldon

        Dear Herb,

        I’d say you missed the entire point. Pity

        Arthur Sheldon

  • Myron Slater

    I used to live in New York in my younger days and read the New York Times every weekend. I have lost my respect for that newspaper because of the anti-Jewish material and attitude in their paper. I will never again read that paper, I urge all Jews to do the same!

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Poor Och’s and Sulzberger families of Jews who own the NYT and yet their self-hatred or lack of respect for their fellow Jews and themselves led to this situation.

    Iran is not threatening Ireland, Italy, England, Poland and all the other countries represented by American citizens in the U.S.. They are threatening Israel and the U.S. with destruction by an atomic weapon.

    Jews better stand up for Israel and for themselves. Bernie Sanders might be able to say, “I’m not much of a Jew” and he certainly showed how weak he is when he yielded his microphone to the 2 black women who charged on stage for Black Lives Matter.

    I wish that Jews were as violent and as strong as the blacks then there would not be any anti-Jew acts because they would be too afraid to start with us. We have the weakest “leaders” who do nothing for Jews and it has been that way for well over 100 years starting with the ADL.

    ADL’s solution to anti-Jewish acts? “We’ll give them seminars”.

    Give them a good shot in the head by a 2×4 and that works wonders.

    • BVC

      I totally agree. I don’t understand why we can’t get that kind of unity. Black will support black regardless of what they do or say privately but Jews are notoriously fair to a fault and I do mean fault. I don’t want to merge, I want to be a Jew amoung Jews. We are doomed without it.

    • Steve Loeb

      Arthur Ochs Sulzberger is NOT Jewish

      “His mother was of mostly English and Scottish origin[1] and his father was of Jewish origin (both Ashkenazi and Sephardic). His parents divorced when he was five. He was raised in his mother’s Episcopalian faith, but no longer observes the religion”

  • Stuart Hersh

    Except for the color, The New York Times has become the New York Grimes, as the “yellowlisting” constitutes blatant McCarthyism.

  • marta mikey frid

    Just protecting their own skin. How pathetic to claim themselves as being Jewish. Time to give up their snake skins. No one will hurt them anyway, if they do. The opposite: they will love them more for that.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    The problem with the New York Times is that it is filled with self-hating,anti-Israel Jews and always has been – whatever Jonathan Weisman may claim.These journalists remind me of Walter Lippmann,the quintessential self-hating,anti-Israel,anti-Semitic Jew (what a wonderful oxymoron!).Lippmann hated Jews so much that he could never utter,let alone write, the word “Jew” or “Israel”.He came very close to blaming the Jews themselves for the Holocaust.In 1922 Lippmann even supported a Jewish quota at Harvard!He asserted that Jews had “many distressing personal and social habits” and in 1933 Lippmann described Hitler as “the authentic voice of a genuinely civilized people”.The mantle of Jewish self-hatred that Lippmann so proudly wore has now fallen on the Times.Shame on them!

  • maish goretsky

    I suggest that the Times do DNA and genomic studies
    on the 58 out of our 100 senators who are against the Iran treaty to identify genes similar to those found in
    Jews ,which ,of course ,are the reason(s) for their blatant discrimination.

    After all ,what could there be any reason to question and reject any deal the Christ in the white house makes?

  • Michael Garfinkel

    In the morally inverted universe that is the Left, Jews like Weisman stink up the Times with anti-Semitism, while people like Public Editor Sullivan object.

  • CG

    Remember US internment camps of people of Japanese descent during WW2? THAT’S what happens when people start making accusations of mixed or dubious loyalty. The NYTimes is guilty of singling out Jews for ostracism. What’s next? Nuremberg laws? So glad I don’t buy that rag any more.

  • Come on, spell the NY times correctly: Der Sturmer…Der Sturmer..
    Now you’ve got it!

  • steven L

    NYT: flagship of mass media antisemitism.

  • Fred

    Reading your article I still think the New York Times has the rationale of Hitler’s Der Sturmer editor Jew hater Julius Streicher. I am in no doubt this paper would gladly see the return of the Americam NAZI era. They seem to be geared for this. It is outrageous the anti Jew rethoric coming out from this rag. They a curing favour from the Arab Jew haters by assisting the endeavour of Jewish ( Israel’s)enemies in the true Hitlerian manner.

  • Dr. Stephen Steinlight

    I became a reader of the “Algemeiner” only a few years ago at a friend’s suggestion. Jerold Auerbach’s critique of the “Times'” monstrous placement of metaphorical yellow stars on the arms of Jewish members of Congress who opposed a repetition of the Munich Agreement in Farsi is far and away the most searching and forceful treatment of that outrage in any publication in America. Articles of this caliber have made me a faithful reader of this paper, clearly the finest Jewish publication in New York. I’m deeply grateful to Jerold Auerbach and the “Algemeiner” for speaking hard truths with strength and intellectual elegance in these dark times and for giving me much koved as a Jew.

  • Shlomo Mayman

    We trust that following any vote on immigration policy the Times will give us a chart noting which way each Hispanic member of Congress voted, and the Hispanic composition of their state/district.

  • Steve Wenick

    I just came across the usual non-apology apology by the New York Times after singling out only Jews in Congress who are for or against the Iran deal. The Times certainly does have a problem with Jews.

  • Is there a reality outside the NYT newsroom?