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August 20, 2017 1:48 pm

Is The New York Times Biased Against All Religions or Just Traditional Judaism?

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Is the New York Times biased against all religions or just against traditional Judaism?

What’s long been an open question in my mind has been clarified recently by the publication of two Times articles that take a blatantly Christian perspective.

One article, by an Episcopal priest, Steven Paulikas, appears under the headline “Christianity Does Not Justify Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury.’” It contends, “there is no conceivable argument to be found in Christian scripture for threatening death and suffering on a huge scale.”

Times readers such as myself, who don’t accept “Christian scripture” as their moral authority, are left wondering why it ought to guide foreign policy in a country where, according to the First Amendment, there is no established religion. The Times does not appear to have solicited or published a similar piece from a rabbi on the question of what the Hebrew Bible or Judaism say about President Trump’s foreign policy toward North Korea, even though such a piece, or analysis, might well reach a different conclusion from the Episcopal priest’s.

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That Times article also goes out of its way to criticize George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase, which has been widely attributed to a presidential speechwriter, David Frum, who is Jewish.

Another article, in the Times Sunday magazine, is by Jane Coaston, a writer who attended Catholic grade school and high school. She writes:

We have long been warned about the dangers of flaunting our own moral superiority this way: In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs his followers not to be like the ‘‘hypocrites’’ who ‘‘love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners that they may be seen by men.’’

Coaston’s “we” doesn’t include me — I’m not a follower of Jesus, and this passage from Matthew strikes me as vaguely anti-Jewish. If the Times magazine wanted to select an example of a warning against religious hypocrisy, it could have chosen any number of examples from the prophets in the Hebrew Bible — say, Jeremiah 7, or Isaiah 58. But instead Coaston’s first example of religious hypocrisy is Jesus’ criticism of Jews praying in synagogues, an example that may strike those of us who still pray in synagogues as jarringly off-key.

On the evidence of these two pieces, at least, it’s not all religions that the Times has a problem with, just traditional Judaism.

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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  • Jack_nSlvrSprng

    Moral of the story: Don’t read the NYSlimes. Also, note to readers: In the first century, the term synagogue meant a meeting house, usually not a place of prayer. Note, the equivalence of praying in the synagogue and on the street corners. In other words, those praying in such places were doing something out of the ordinary.

  • avrumeleh

    Well, the NY Times has become so antipathetical to traditional Judaism and even its adjuncts that it is now tempting…and even accurate…to say it has a particular obsession with things-Jewish. But, simply because it’s analysis of something political makes reference to Christian concepts doesn’t necessarily mean that it embraces them. The NY Times has become so cynical and so much the mouthpiece for the Left that it is willing to make use of virtually any “authority” that it can find to justify a left-leaning principle that it wishes to defend or promote. To the extent that the NY Times might have a problem with traditional Judaism, that is the case because Judaism obviously has a singular connection to the raison d’etre of, and the power brokers in, Israel that no other religion shares. It is startling that the NY Times, much like radical and radicalized Muslims in the end makes little distinction between “Israel” and “the Jews.” Hamas and Hezbollah shout their intentions to defeat “the Jews” and the NY Times does all it can to disparage “Israel” and “Judaism.” That’s because, in truth, they are intellectual bedfellows.

  • Joy Daniels Brower

    Oops! I read and usually agree with Ira Stoll’s many intelligent commentaries, but this one – I think – pushes just a bit too hard, thereby missing its mark. Remember, in Jesus’s time there WASN’T an established Christian religion! So, which were the monotheistic religions at the time? Well, it looks as if Judaism fills that bill! And since Jesus himself was Jewish, he naturally observed Jews in the synagogue many times! And in those days – and, even in fact, today! – traditional Jews (the only kind in Jesus’ time, BTW) gathered in the synagogue to pray (usually early every morning when they at least had to have a minyan – and, of course, those consisted ONLY of MEN!! The women, for the most part, stayed at home and looked after the children and the house! Well, when men who know each other very well and, further, do business with each other every day, congregate – i.e., get together – do you think they can keep their minds (and their tongues!) only on prayers and rituals? I’d say that they did almost everything EXCEPT pray a lot of the time!! In fact, I witnessed such activity at the Central Synagogue in Moscow back in the early 70s, during the early days of the Jewish Refusniks and their long campaign to exit the USSR and emigrate to Israel!! Women, of course, sat upstairs (and talked A LOT during the service!), but men downstairs were very lively and, of course, even there, politically active! Of course, that was a very unique situation, but it made a lot of sense to me – especially as I look back on that historical time in the history of Russian/Soviet Jewry!

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