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July 18, 2017 12:06 pm

Nine Flaws With New York Times ‘Israel’s War on George Soros’ Article

avatar by Ira Stoll

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George Soros. Photo: Jeff Ooi via Wikimedia Commons.

An opinion article in the New York Times improbably used George Soros as a bludgeon with which to attack Israel and its elected prime minister.

I counted at least nine flaws with the article. It appeared in the Times online under the headline “Israel’s War Against George Soros,” but a more apt headline might have been “The New York Times’ War Against Israel.”

It began with the claim, “Mr. Soros has failed the only litmus test that seems to count for Israel’s current leadership: unconditional support for the government, despite its policies of occupation, discrimination and disregard for civil and human rights.”

That’s just nonsense [Problem No. 1]. There’s no such “litmus test,” and there are no such “policies.” This is a government that includes the first openly gay Likud Party member of the Israeli parliament, that has welcomed Syrian refugees and treated them in Israeli hospitals, and that has a better developed system of courts and civil society to protect minority rights than does any neighboring country.

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The next sentence of the Times article was just as phony and misleading [Problem No. 2]. It claims, “For years Mr. Soros largely avoided Israel-related philanthropy, but he became involved in 2008 when he contributed to J Street, a moderate pro-Israel, pro-peace lobbying group based in Washington, after it was founded.” Never mind the characterization of J Street. The idea that Soros’s involvement with Israel-related topics only began in 2008 is false. He’s been a longtime and major funder of Human Rights Watch, a group so critical of Israel that its founder left in protest and started a rival organization. In 2007, Soros wrote a piece in the New York Review of Books describing himself as neither a Zionist nor “a practicing Jew” and denouncing Israel as bloodthirsty: “The current policy of not seeking a political solution but pursuing military escalation — not just an eye for an eye but roughly speaking ten Palestinian lives for every Israeli one — has reached a particularly dangerous point.”

Already in 2003, he was publicly blaming Israeli and American policies for antisemitism. As Commentary put it shortly thereafter, “Soros likened the behavior of Israel to that of the Nazis, invoking some psychological jargon about victims becoming victimizers.” As far back as 1995, Soros told the New Yorker, “I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence — but I don’t want to be part of it.” If Soros “largely avoided Israel-related philanthropy” until 2008, it wasn’t because he was neutral on the question but rather because he had a history of hostility to the Jewish state.

The next sentence in the Times article was also a problem. “Mr. Soros also contributes to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence, which have been subjected to a growing delegitimization campaign by the Israeli government.” That’s ironic [Problem No. 3]. Breaking the Silence has participated in a campaign to delegitimize Israel, and now the Times accuses Israel of trying to delegitimize Breaking the Silence?

The next problem [No. 4] came when the Times faults the Hungarian prime minister, Vicktor Orban. “Mr. Orban has personally accused Mr. Soros’s operations of ‘trying secretly and with foreign money to influence Hungarian politics’ — a statement that appears to toy with an anti-Semitic trope about Jewish influence.” If it’s antisemitic to be concerned about foreign influence on politics, then is the New York Times itself antisemitic for raising constant front-page alarms about how Russia supposedly swung the American presidency to Donald Trump?

The Times claimed [Problem No. 5], “It takes some gall on the part of Mr. Netanyahu to choose this moment to kick Mr. Soros while he’s down.” Netanyahu hasn’t kicked anyone, and Soros isn’t “down” — he’s a billionaire. If anyone is displaying gall, it’s the New York Times, for hurling all of these false accusations against Netanyahu.

The Times article praised Mr. Soros’ “universalism,” but went on to condemn the Trump administration for having made “no mention of Jews or anti-Semitism in its International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement this year.” So universalism is good in Soros’s case, but bad in the Trump administration’s case? It’s a double standard, again. [Problem No. 6.]

The Times falsely claimed [Problem No. 7] that “the Israeli government stayed silent” in response to the Holocaust statement. In fact the Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called it a “mishap or a misunderstanding,” and said he “hoped” next year’s statement would be worded differently, the Times of Israel reported.

The Times falsely claimed [Problem No. 8] that Netanyahu “sees little value in safeguarding Jewish communities outside Israel.” Netanyahu has spent more than $100 million of Israeli government funds on Birthright Israel travel programs that build the Jewish identity of teenagers and young adults from outside Israel.

The Times falsely claimed [Problem No. 9] that Netanyahu “has alienated a majority of American Jews on both political and religious grounds.” There’s no evidence of this. The Times hyperlinked the claim to a Thomas Friedman column that itself has 14 flaws. Even if the claim is true, it’s not clear that it is relevant. Netanyahu is elected by the voters of Israel, not America, and so he is accountable to them.

Why is the Times so eager to side with Soros against Netanyahu? Because Soros — publicly avowed as neither a Zionist nor a “practicing Jew” but rather a harsh and bitter public critic of the Jewish state, committed ideologically to “universalism” instead of “the hard-line nationalism of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition” — represents precisely the Times world view. One can correct blatant factual errors or edit away some contradictions or hire a couple of pro-Israel writers and editors to provide balance. But some things are just incorrigible. When the Times runs articles such as this one about Soros, it’s a signal that discloses where the paper is really coming from.

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

 

 

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  • Mairav Zonszein
    the prime example of the pathologic self hating “Jewess”.

  • Blankety-Blank

    Soros is an amazing hypocrite. But as with so many humans, his capacity to think rationally is compartmentalized, limited to only certain fields. He is great at maneuvering to profit from fiscal issues, even to manipulate them to his advantage. Not so good at identifying with and recognizing the modern-day equivalents of those victims he watched getting hauled off to the death camps. His humanity is flawed, but his greed has been well sated.

  • glsfbg

    The NY Times – “All the propaganda it cares to print”

  • RW

    Bravo!

  • stannadel

    Stoll, like Netanyahu, seems to accept the Orban regime’s reliance on plausible deniability for its Antisemitic dog whistles in their campaign against Soros. Anyone who knows the history and nature of Hungarian Antisemitism and its rhetoric will recognize the dog whistles for what they are–Antisemitic themes used to whip up hatred against a Jew. These apologetics for Orban are no better than JVP’s covering for anti-Israel Antisemitism by the Chicago Dyke March & etc.

    • The Right Wing Atheist

      Don’t care. I’d rather side with Orban than Soros or any of the antisemitic EU filth.

  • Joy Daniels Brower

    I love how Ira Stoll brilliantly – and resolutely! – tore apart the very biased (and, indeed, disgusting!) piece in the NY Times! I get SO angry whenever I read such bias – but particularly in the paper that used to be the place that ran “all the news that’s fit to print!” Well, not anymore! And I get particularly incensed when I realize that many friends (yes, some of them still ARE friends!) read the NYT – as one might read the Bible – every day! When I think that they believe everything they read there (and these are Jewish friends, too!), I almost think that there can be nothing left to talk about except recipes, travel and sports!! Israel – ISRAEL!! – is a topic that’s now really “too hot to handle!” How sad! But these “friends” also admire Soros and probably would be active in J Street if they weren’t already busy with their regular lives! How “frenemies” are born…

  • Ken Kelso

    Great article Ira.
    The person who wrote this article for the Times is Mairav Zonszein. She’s a far leftist who’s a known Pallywood liar.
    Mr Elder wrote an article about her 3 years ago ironically when the NY Times let Mairav write another Israel bashing article. .

    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2014/10/mairav-zonszeins-hate-for-israel.html
    Mairav Zonszein’s hate for Israel
    During Rosh Hashanah, the New York Times published an op-ed by Mairav Zonszein called “How Israel Silences Dissent.” The op-ed goes through various alleged examples of how “Israel” – which may be the government, but mostly Israeli society- have “silenced” Israel’s radical Left during the summer war.
    October 01, 2014

    • Scott Smith

      “The person who wrote this article for the Times is Mairav Zonszein. She’s a far leftist who’s a known Pallywood liar.”

      I’ve been scooped. More seriously, just being written by someone from 972mag is enough to demonstrate that there is no even-handedness. It should be added to the list of problems in the article.

  • Ken Kelso

    New York Times Calls Palestinian Terrorist Convicted of Five Murders a “Freedom Fighter”
    http://www.thetower.org/5173-new-york-times-calls-palestinian-terrorist-convicted-of-five-murders-a-freedom-fighter/

  • garry pollack

    Yup…It’s still the old Algemeiner…

  • garry pollack

    Soros cud have been just as dead as any other Jew in 1944. That, I think, is what he is running away from…

    • The Right Wing Atheist

      Nope. He’s too evil for that.

  • avrumeleh

    As well put as put can be. The Time’s agenda!

  • zvi gross

    The NYT never disappoint it’s leftists readers when it comes to Israel Israel can do no right, the Pals can do no wrong. An opinionated, partisan parody of a News paper!!

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