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October 9, 2016 7:34 am

When the New York Times Is for the Birds

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Chickens for Kapparot. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Chickens for kapparot. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the best (or worst, depending on how you think about it) ways to see the New York Times’ egregious bias against Jews is to look for double standards.

An excellent (or horrible) recent example of this was an editorial condemning the New York City Parks department for offering women-only bathing hours at a Brooklyn swimming pool frequented by Orthodox Jews. A previous Times article had praised a Toronto pool that offered women-only hours geared to Muslims as “a model of inclusion.” The double standard was clear; the Times approved of women-only pool hours to accommodate religious Muslims, while opposing women-only pool hours to accommodate religious Jews.

Recent issues of the New York Times offered two more clear examples of anti-Jewish double standards in the newspaper’s coverage. A column from Brooklyn described “the practice, called kaporos or kapparot, … meant to transfer a person’s sins to the chicken.” It ran under the headline, “A Raw Deal for Chickens, as Jews Atone for Sins,” and focused on the practice being not good for chickens. Contrast it to another column that also ran this week in the New York Times, headlined, “In Senegal, Absolution Comes With a Wing and a Prayer.” It reports on how in the African nation of Senegal, caged birds are kept and sold. “The idea is to whisper prayers to the bird and then let it fly away, taking your problems with it,” the Times reported. Yet that Times column doesn’t mention anything about how unfortunate it is for the birds in the cages, let alone dwell on it. Likewise, this week’s New York Times food section featured a (non-kosher) recipe for “chicken potpie for the modern cook” and a review of a (also not kosher) fried chicken restaurant, without expressing even a scintilla of anxiety on behalf of the chickens involved.

Got that? When it’s Brooklyn yuppies eating fried chicken, or “modern” Times readers baking them into pot pies, or even Senegalese capturing and caging birds for use in rituals, the Times doesn’t give a flying feather about the welfare of the animals. Yet when Orthodox Jews get involved, all of a sudden the newspaper starts looking at life from the perspective of the chickens. It’s ridiculous.

A similar double standard is on display in a scathing Times editorial about Israel, headlined, “At the Boiling Point With Israel.”

The editorial is deeply problematic for many reasons. It calls an Israeli decision to move some Israeli settlers from one settlement to another “especially insulting.” What was really insulting was the White House issuing a corrected press release deleting the word “Israel” from its description of the Mount Herzl cemetery in western Jerusalem where President Obama attended the funeral of Shimon Peres, as if Israel’s former president was somehow buried in some other country. Yet there was no Times editorial about that insult.

The Times also repeats a State Department complaint that the settlers are being moved to a place “far closer to Jordan than Israel.” But Israel has a legitimate concern about Jordan’s vulnerability to Islamist extremism, the instability brought by the influx of Syrian refugees there, and the fact that on the other side of Jordan are Syria and Iraq, two countries with significant territory controlled by ISIS. As Dan Diker has pointed out, when Yitzhak Rabin spoke to the Knesset in 1995, he said, “The security border for defending the State of Israel will be in the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that concept.” Dore Gold has written about it quoting Yigal Allon. A former head of the IDF’s central command, Uzi Dayan, wrote in 2014:

Only Israel’s presence on the outer eastern border of the West Bank (the Jordan River and Valley) will enable genuine demilitarization of the Palestinian Authority, which is a condition for any stable arrangement and one of Israel’s fundamental conditions for agreeing to a two state solution.

Thus Israel’s only possible defensible border is in the Jordan Valley.

In addition to all these other problems with the editorial, the telltale double standard is also on display. It comes when the Times editorial recommends “to have the United Nations Security Council, in an official resolution, lay down guidelines for a peace agreement covering such issues as Israel’s security, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and borders for both states.” Hmm. The UN Security Council — that includes, as a permanent, veto-wielding member, Russia.

The Times recently devoted an entire paragraph of an editorial denouncing Donald Trump to deploring the Republican presidential candidate’s naivete about Russia:

In expressing admiration for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump implies acceptance of Mr. Putin’s dictatorial abuse of critics and dissenters, some of whom have turned up murdered, and Mr. Putin’s vicious crackdown on the press. Even worse was Mr. Trump’s urging Russia to meddle in the presidential campaign by hacking the email of former Secretary of State Clinton. Voters should consider what sort of deals Mr. Putin might obtain if Mr. Trump, his admirer, wins the White House.

So there’s the double standard for you: The Times editorialists shudder at the thought of Russia meddling in the American presidential campaign. Yet these same editorial writers are eager to turn the future of Jerusalem and Israel’s border security over to a UN Security Council that includes a veto-wielding ambassador of Vladimir Putin. When Donald Trump says anything the vaguest way positive about Putin, the Times finds it unacceptable. But when President Obama and the Times editorial writers want to use Putin to do a UN end-run around letting Israel’s elected government make its own security decisions, that’s a whole different story; that’s Russian meddling the Times endorses rather than condemns.

Which brings us back, in conclusion, to the the topic of chickens and birds. And to one thing that the New York Times might be good for: lining the bottom of birdcages.

Happy New Year.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. 

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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  • JohnEngelman

    Israel is a small oaisis of civilization surrounded by a vast desert of horrifying barbarism. I doubt many liberals who take the side of the Palestinians against Israel would rather live in any Arab country than Israel.

    Everything the left despises about the Bible Belt and the religious right is far more true about Islamic society.

    A gay rights demonstration in an Arab country is unthinkable. Before the police had time to arrest the demonstrators they would have been beaten to death by a raving mob of Muslims.

  • JohnEngelman

    I have subscribed to The New York Times for thirteen years. Comments submitted to The New York Times website are moderated before they are posted.

    Recently I posted a comment deriding the anti scientific bias of climate change deniers. That comment went went right up.

    Then, on the same story I posted a comment claiming that it is equally unscientific to disregard evidence about the relationship between genes, intelligence, academic and economic success, race, and crime.

    I added that while climate change deniers do not try to suppress the debate over climate change, those who disregard the importance of genes in determining ability levels and behavior do try to suppress the debate over heriditarianism.

    The New York Times illustrated my point by not posting my comment.

  • geoffrey ben-nathan

    Ira Stoll’s fulminations against the New York Times are both fascinating and frustrating. Why doesn’t Stoll challenge the perpetrators of these double standards ? Why doesn’t he contact the Editor ? Quotes in defence of these double standards – they are the real story for Algemeiner readers. Let’s hear what these people have to say. It’s not enough to belly-ache and moan: “Ooh! How awful they are”. Get them to account for themselves and quote them publicly.

  • JazzDoc

    It’s appalling to reflect upon how the The Gray Lady (the New York Times) has morphed into such a left wing rag in contrast to the days in which the Times proudly maintained the high bar of excellence in journalism and news reportage around the globe.
    The Times has crippled its own legacy by succumbing to an unbridled liberal progressive propaganda agenda which has turned its back on Jews and Israel. We are witnessing such a dilution of neutrality that I wonder whether the New York Times should be renamed Pravda West.

  • Efram Paul

    The New York Times: All the slanders and lies unfit to print.

  • watsa46

    The NYT leads the “Goebbels News Media”. The NYT, the US Pravda!

  • poest

    Democrats specialize in HYPOCRISY!

    • JohnEngelman

      It is hypocritical to advocate higher wages and more immigration.

      It is also hypocritical to advocate lower taxes, more military spending, and balanced budgets.

      • poest

        It’s hypocritical to destroy the middle class while taxing the life out of the economy! Military spending is a necessity. Stop using it as an excuse for more of your BS!

  • Ken Kelso

    Great article about the anti Israel NY Times.
    Read this great article and posts detailing how the Times is anti Israel.
    A Year of Biased Reporting: Why the New York Times Won ..

  • Lia

    Mr Stoll, you’re one of my ever-heroes (though I am not an Israeli, do not live in Israel and have never even visited Israel), for your rational (and tinged with humour) critiques of USA newspapers.

  • bocapunter

    A great newspaper that is severely compromised by their coverage of Israel and anything from the right. Example. Trumps’ hot mike drew coverage on a number of pages on Saturday. You had to go to a small column on page 12 for Clinton wikileaks. The article did not mention her private support of open borders. Incredible!

  • Reb_Yaakov

    And now a word about double standards: Jews do maintain a double standard. All the Torah laws apply to Jews; non-Jews must obey only the seven Noahide Commandments. Thus, Jews hold themselves to a higher standard. How sad when non-Jews have to call Jews on the latter’s failure to uphold their own principles, such as tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, the prohibition against causing unnecessary suffering to any animal. As for lining the bottom of bird cages, there shouldn’t be any bird cages. Ever heard of avian influenza? It all comes around.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    Regardless of any double standards, Jews should be condemning the mistreatment of chickens used for kapparot, as well as the mistreatment of chickens used for other purposes. By and large, they haven’t been. Ashamnu….