Which ‘Times’ Should You Read?
Last week, two young Americans were murdered in terrorist attacks, one in Israel and the other in France.
Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year-old from Sharon, Mass., was spending his gap year as a yeshiva student and volunteer in Bet Shemesh. He was killed near Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, where he had just finished delivering food parcels to soldiers and visiting a memorial to three Israeli children who were kidnapped and murdered nearby last summer. In an article (November 20) devoted to five murders by Palestinian “assailants,” New York Times reporter Isabel Kershner devoted one paragraph (with fewer than 100 words) to the American Jewish victim.
Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old California college student who was spending a semester at a design school in Paris, was the only American to die in the recent ISIS terrorist assault that claimed 129 lives. She was described in the Times (November 20) by reporter Dan Bilefsky as “emblematic of dozens of other victims: Young. Ambitious. Chasing dreams. And eager to absorb the sophisticated swagger of a city rich in history and culture.”
She was, Bilefsky continued, “representative of the packs of cheerful, starry-eyed foreigners studying abroad for a semester” who, in their spare time, “are a gregarious, sometimes loud and giggling, presence in the cafes and bistros where Parisians also live out their lives.” Her life ended in the attack that killed nineteen customers at “a lively bistro.” In his five-column article about the “bubbly and determined first-generation Mexican-American” woman, accompanied by a photograph of Ms. Gonzales, he quoted extensively from her own “brand reflecting who she was,” emphasizing “her Mexican-American heritage, her drive and her independence.” Testimonials by a spokeswoman from her university and her boyfriend accompanied descriptions of her imaginative designs and her own explanation of her design philosophy. It was a worthy tribute to an admirable and talented young American whose vibrant life was cruelly ended by a terrorist’s bullet.
The sharply contrasting Times coverage of the two American terror victims was as jarring as it was offensive. It glaringly exposed the evident – and disgraceful — Times conviction that American Jewish victims of terrorist attacks in Israel are of little consequence amid “all the news that’s fit to print,” the preening motto that adorns Page 1 of every issue.
Who, then, was Ezra Schwartz? According to The Times – The Times of Israel, that is (November 20) – he was a “compassionate and tough” graduate of the Orthodox Maimonides School in Brookline. Friends remembered him as “a highly driven young man, known for telling food jokes and helping bring others out of their shells.” He was, his “inseparable” girl friend recalled, “the kind of friend who urged others to conquer their fears and experience as much of life as possible.” Israel, she knew, “was his primary passion in life.”
Ezra was murdered by a Palestinian armed with an Uzi. Behind the terrorist attacks in Israel and France, Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted, “stands radical Islam, which seeks to destroy us.” He continued: “Whoever condemned the attacks in France must condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terrorism.”
But that is a lesson that The New York Times has yet to learn. The familiar Biblical adage “May you live until 120” (Genesis 6:3) may apply. It has been exactly that long since Adolph S. Ochs purchased the newspaper, paving the way through marriage for the Sulzberger family dynasty that succeeded him. Its hostility to Zionism, indifference to the Holocaust and uneasiness (to say the least) over the reality of Jewish statehood is well known.
Anyone who wants to encounter American Jewish discomfort with Israel should read The New York Times even though – or perhaps especially because — its current Sulzberger publisher is now Episcopalian by conversion. To be sure, anyone who wants to learn about Israel should also read The Times – just not The New York Times but The Times of Israel.
Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner.