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April 5, 2016 7:36 am

In New York Times ‘Debate’ on Anti-Zionism, No Room for Real Debate

avatar by Ira Stoll

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When a debate is not really a debate. Photo: Wikia.

When a debate is not really a debate. Photo: Wikia.

The New York Times opinion section’s “Room for Debate,” I have quipped, should be called “No Room for Debate,” because the “debates” are so obviously slanted in their composition.

Such is the case with the feature’s latest installment, which appears under the headline, “Is Anti-Zionism Anti-Semitism?”

The Times introduces the discussion with this set-up:

When the University of California regents condemned “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism,” supporters of Palestinian rights said the university was suppressing criticism of Israel. In New York, supporters of Israel say critics of Zionism at the City University of New York are thinly disguised anti-Semitics and their actions, like calls for a boycott of Israel, should be stopped.

When does criticism of Israel become bigotry? Is rejection of the Jewish state a rejection of Jews?

I think the language the Times is looking for is “anti-Semites,” not “anti-Semitics.” But that’s the least of the issues with this feature.

As usual, the outcome of the “debate” is established by the Times’ choice of participants.

Daniel Gordis, who teaches at Shalem College, offers a mostly reasonable contribution, denouncing as antisemitism opposition to Israel’s existence. Benjamin Gladstone, a sophomore at Brown, also offers a mostly reasonable essay, reaching the conclusion, “Not all anti-Zionism is necessarily anti-Semitism, but the obsession with attacking Israel often crosses the line into structural anti-Semitism.”

Installments from a student and a professor at two University of California campuses offer the predictable anti-Zionist case, dismissing concerns about antisemitism, and offering the appearance of “balance,” as if Israel’s existence were a topic on which the Times should strive for neutral, even-handed coverage.

The real head-slapper, though, is the fifth, tie-breaking contribution. It wasn’t enough for the Times to weigh two pro-Zionist pieces against two anti-Zionist ones. Instead, the newspaper had to stick its thumb on the scale by adding a contribution from one Lisa Goldman. The newspaper identifies her as a “journalist.” Her web site says, “She currently works with corporate clients interested in entering various Middle Eastern markets.” Ms. Goldman’s contribution appears under the headline, “Anti-Zionists Thrive In Israel, Why Not in The U.S?”

She writes:

In the state of Israel, by definition, one can be a Jewish non-Zionist, tax-paying citizen who is active in civic life.

When Jews conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, they are stifling legitimate political expression. If a Jewish native-born Israeli can be an anti-Zionist, then surely it is not up to American Jews to decide whether or not criticism of Israeli policy is legitimate.

My own advice to Professor Gordis and to any other pro-Israel voice invited to participate in one of these “Room for Debate” debates? Find out ahead of time who other the participants will be and what side they will take. And if the “debate” turns to be stacked, three to two, in favor of a predetermined outcome, take a pass. Participating is just allowing the Times to provide the appearance of a “debate” when in fact the newspaper and its editors have no intention of allowing a fair one.

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  • Peter Anthony

    Before The NYT [Non-Truth-Yuk-& Treason]
    was purchased by some foriegn country[s]
    & became nothing more than just another of
    America’s “Obama’s [miscreant] Media Groupies”,
    & “Obama Journalist Junkies”,
    As a malevolent member of today’s
    “Satanic Socialist Anti American Political Propaganda Machine”,
    the NYT is simply no longer even capable, willing, nor able
    to publish anything but what this piece of biggoted,biased, anti Jewish propaganda so clearly confirms [yet once again]
    If anyone,
    with any sence of honor, dignity, patriotism,
    Godliness, or common sense,
    who hasn’t been programmed\brainwahsed\converted\bribed\bought\exploited etc. etc.
    into what America has been so vulgarly, viciously, Satanicly,
    painfully & destructively,
    been infected with for these last 8 lonnnng years;
    hopes to reeeeleeee be exposed to anything other than
    1) average weather reports,
    2)2nd rate tasteless comics,
    3)cross word puzzles;
    then they are NOT playing with a full deck;

    as the NYT,
    is one Satanic Socialist Anti-American, Anti Life, Anti-Christian, Anti-Jewish, anti-2nd Amendment, pro-criminal pro-crime evil gov. tyrant ass kissing piece of the same piece of “tissue” that is “stored” right beside where The NYT’s Queen Of Satanic Socialist Slime [from hell] Hitleree
    [cess pool of lies & corruption] Clinton,
    keeps all of America’s most secret, vital, & consequential secrets, security concerns & crutial technology data,
    in a bathroom in her basement;
    because the NYT’s “usual America destroying Sicko Socialist
    Degenerate Choice” of “endorsement”,
    HiTleree [Racist]Rodham [cess pool] Clinton,
    demonstrates quite cleary & most explititly,
    “who”, “what”, & “why” the NYT exists for.

  • With all due respect, Prof. Pessin, I think you missed something important here in Goldman’s statement. I myself am a non-Zionist living a full life in Israel. But I am not anti-Zionist and there is a huge difference between the two.

    I live in Israel out of religious conviction and not because of any political ideology. But I am not against those who live in or support Israel because of their political ideology. If I were against them, it would certainly be a form of bigotry. And I don’t see how it could be any form of bigotry other than antisemitism.

    • I directed this to Prof. Pessin. I meant, Mr. Stoll. Perhaps you can edit this for me, Moderator?

  • robert davis

    The systematic “criticism” of Israel is evidently tantamount to POLITICAL PRESSURES to force Israel out of its jewish provinces. When criticism is systematic and is motivated by a political interference to weaken a nation so it can be defeated by its enemies this is not criticism it’s POLITICAL INTERFERENCE.

  • Richard E Sherwin

    one doesnt read the NYT for anything besides the crossword puzzles, sudoku, and weather reports. anything else in it is NYT-truthism…. which is why it takes so many pages to waffle a way thru. it’s theology, not debate, you look for…and get… expensive but liberals arent poor …. yet….

  • Carol

    If one takes into account, background of vocal groups spouting anti-Zionism, it is most definitely easy to say anti-semitism and anti-Zionism are one.

  • stevenl

    Antisemitic NYT talks about antisemitism! The leader in mass media antisemitism.

    • Peter Anthony

      Exactly ~~>*Ephraim*<~~ not to mention the leader in anti-Life, anti-Christian, anti America, anti 2nd amendment which is America's one & only profoundly predominant protector, defender & sustainer against those viciously evil gov tyrants, that the NYT is ALSO the leader in ass kissing.

  • Ephraim

    The New York Antisemitic Times: All the news that’s fit to suppress

    As for Miss Goldman, another in the endless parade of self-haters.

    G-d protect us from such ‘Jews.’