New York Times Bureau Chief in Iran Promotes Anti-Israel Agenda
Thomas Erdbrink is the New York Times Bureau Chief in Iran. A Dutch citizen, he has lived in Iran for more than 10 years, and the Times affectionately describes him as “our man in Tehran.” However, the paper should urgently rethink that nickname now that Mr. Erdbrink is using his status to promote anti-Israel extremism on mainstream Dutch TV.
This year, Erdbrink received the honor of hosting Zomergasten (Summer Guests) — one of the most prominent Dutch TV series. It’s a feel-good format show of six episodes that features a famous guest on each.
But after the program already confirmed the Dutch prime minister and four other well-known celebrities as this year’s guests, Mr. Erdbrink shockingly announced that he wanted to invite Lebanese-Belgian extremist (and self-declared Hezbollah member) Dyab Abou Jahjah to be the first guest on the show this Sunday.
Abou Jahjah founded an organization that was convicted of Holocaust denial; he called the 9/11 attacks “sweet revenge;” and he’s said Europe made “the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion.” He is banned in the UK, and deemed so radical that even Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was forced to denounce any connection to him late last year.
But the fact that Mr. Erdbrink has no problem with promoting this extremist comes as less of a surprise once Erdbrink’s other statements on Dutch TV are scrutinized. For example, during a show on April 29, 2016, he defended Iran’s Holocaust denial cartoons as an understandable response to what he deemed anti-Muslim Danish cartoons.
Moreover, when Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam and another guest on that show, retorted that classical antisemitic conspiracy theories should be denounced, Mr. Erdbrink ridiculed this response.
His New York Times prestige is now allowing Mr. Erdbrink to provide Abou Jahjah with a uncritical platform on primetime Dutch TV. The Times should take responsibility and distance itself from this journalist who uses the newspaper’s reputation to promote anti-Israel extremism abroad.