The New York Times Launches a Shavuot Attack on Israel
The New York Times marked the holiday of Shavuot — a holiday that celebrates the covenant between God and the Jewish people, a covenant in which the Jews get a land in return for following the law — by publishing an attack on the Jewish state.
The attack came in the form of an op-ed piece by one Daniel Sieradski. Perhaps the Times chose to publish it on a Jewish holiday to prevent observant Jews from challenging it in real-time. Kind of an opinion journalism version of the Yom Kippur War.
But the Times article would be nonsense no matter when it was published.
The article is headlined “Andrew Cuomo’s Anti-Free Speech Move on B.D.S.” It makes the argument that somehow it violates the First Amendment if the state of New York decides not to do business with those promoting an economic boycott of Israel.
It’s a foolish argument on several grounds. First, the Times editorial page and the political left of which Mr. Sieradski is a part have been campaigning tirelessly for the reversal of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. In that case, the Supreme Court overruled a law that would have prevented the mass distribution of books or movies critical of a political candidate in the six months prior to an election.
In other words, the New York Times doesn’t give a fig about the First Amendment when it comes to Congress actually banning political campaign speech here in America. In fact, the paper is actively hostile to the First Amendment when it comes to campaign speech by the non-Sulzberger rich. But when Governor Cuomo moves to protect Israel, then, all of a sudden, the paper starts to voice sentiments of First Amendment absolutism.
Don’t be fooled by what the Times pretends. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. It has to do with Israel.
It is a case of the classic double standard that Natan Sharansky has argued is a warning sign of antisemitism — invoking one standard when it comes to Israel, another when it comes to everyone else.
Second, the op-ed, and the Times, ignore the fact that there are already at least two federal laws on the books that prevent American firms from participating in anti-Israel boycotts. These are the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act. These laws have endured for 40 years without any serious damage to the First Amendment and without any serious constitutional challenge, primarily because, like Governor Cuomo’s action, they combat economic warfare against Israel, not “speech.”
Finally, the Times op-ed describes Israel as “a foreign country that has systematically subjected millions of people to decades of oppression.” There’s no context or explanation whatsoever about why Israel might want to control the West Bank, other than some sadistic desire to impose systematic “oppression.” No mention that the Arabs rejected partition of the British mandate; no mention that they attacked Israel from neighboring territory; no mention that Jews have a historic and biblical connection to the lands of Judea and Samaria and to the Jewish Quarter of east Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. No mention of Israel’s narrow waist or the fact that Ben-Gurion International Airport could be attacked from the West Bank much the way that rockets were launched against Israel from Gaza when Israel withdrew unilaterally from there. No mention of the Arab terrorist attacks on Israeli weddings, dance clubs, buses or cafes.
This is how the Times portrays Israelis: as systematic oppressors. Happy holiday.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.