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February 28, 2018 10:37 am

Article by Israeli Prompted ‘Big Argument’ Inside New York Times, Editor Says

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A New York Times op-ed piece by a spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron was published over the objections of some Times staffers who thought it qualified as “hate speech” for “denying personhood to the Palestinians.”

That’s according to a leaked transcript of a meeting the editor of the Times editorial page, James Bennet, had with Times employees.

In the transcript, published by the Huffington Post, Bennet was asked about matters “that shouldn’t even be debated.” The question came from a Times employee whose name wasn’t disclosed in the transcript, and who cited “climate change” as an example.

Bennet somehow pivoted from climate change to Israelis living in Hebron.

He said:

we had a big argument over a piece by a settler. And you know, pick your issue. For some people it’s climate change, for some people it’s trans rights, for others it’s a two-state solution and the fate of the Palestinians. In this case, it was the settler saying, look, the two-state solution is dead and [it’s] time to face reality, and here’s some alternative paths for what the future would look like. And we had a real debate about whether this piece was crossing a line, because was it denying personhood to the Palestinians? Was it an act of, kind of, hate speech in a sense?

I felt strongly that we should publish the piece and we did, as did others. Because this particular viewpoint is hugely consequential. It actually is creating reality on the ground. To pretend that somehow we would be — either to think that we were legitimating that point of view by having it in our pages or to tell ourselves that we were somehow changing the reality by not allowing it into our pages seems to me to be deluded a little bit. And our readers need to hear it, like, unmediated, I think. They need to confront these arguments. And we published that piece, and we faced that.

The article, by Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman of the Jewish Community of Hebron, appeared in the February 15, 2017 Times under the headline “A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future.”

It was greeted with derision by the Times’ army of anti-Israel readers and commenters. The Times awarded a gold ribbon and “NYT Pick” distinction to one reader comment, from “Michael” in Colorado, that asserted, “The only just one state solution is the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza become citizens of Israel. They should have full voting rights. Anything else is apartheid. … The Jewish Supremacist of Israel are no different than the White Supremacist of South Africa or the White Supremacist who voted for Trump.” That comment won “thumbs up” recommendations from 57 Times readers.

Another “NYT Pick” gold ribbon went to a comment by Michael Seymour of Berlin, who wrote, “the Zionists want to hang on to their privileged position at the expense of the Palestinians. So long as they continue do this they can never be considered democratic and the state of Israel must be considered what it truly is: an apartheid state.” That comment won “thumbs up” recommendations from 46 Times readers.

Two Zionist journalists hired in 2017 by Bennet from The Wall Street Journal, columnist Bret Stephens and editor and writer Bari Weiss, have been the targets of a hostile campaign by their Times colleagues and by outside pressure groups. The Bennet meeting, the leak of the transcript, and its publication by the Huffington Post all can best be understood in the context of that campaign.

It’s kind of funny that while the Times has published eight — eight! — op-ed pieces by Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of the terror-sponsoring, Holocaust denying, political-prisoner executing, Jew-killing, woman-oppressing government of Iran, the piece that really prompts a “big argument” inside the Times about whether it is beyond the pale is the one from some Israeli living in Hebron.

I mean, it’s not really that funny, but as professors Ruth Wisse or Jeremy Dauber can explain, one way Jews have coped with oppressive discrimination over the years is by finding a way to laugh about it. You’d maybe hope that the same techniques for self-preservation that Eastern European Jews used to face down the Cossacks might not be needed again to deal with the “woke” editorial staffers of The New York Times who are commuting to work from Brooklyn or Montclair, N.J., or Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Alas, no such progress.

At least, to Bennet’s credit, and to look at the bright side, the settler spokesman’s piece was published. He only has seven more articles yet to go before he reaches parity with Zarif.

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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  • TheFop

    All of Jerusalem will belong to the Jews, long after London, Paris, Berlin, etc, etc, are under Islamic rule. Even then, idiotic Jewish Liberals will be shrieking “we marched together with the Blacks in Selma, that’s why we have to stick up for the Palestinians”.

    Some people are stuck in the past, and refuse to see the present, or what’s obviously coming down the pike in the future. These are the kind of people that the NY Times depends on to keep them in business.

  • c0mm0ncenz

    What’s so ironic is that the comments cited are very wrong and show the writers to be ignorant of the true way things are. That’s to be expected when the info that they are reading doesn’t make things clear for them. But by this time, one would hope anyone with enough interest that they make comments, should research the situation more thoroughly so they don’t reveal themselves to be ignorant mules. For starters, people should know that the “West Bank” belongs to Israel, but instead of Israel kicking out all the Arabs, they have been given the Palestinian Authority, so that Arab towns are not part of Israel except where security is concerned, and they are run by Arabs. The “West Bank” is not part of Israel proper, because it has not yet been annexed. So no, West Bank Arabs are not Israeli citizens. Only the Arabs living inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders are Israeli citizens. Those who left Israel in the war of 1948 are no longer in Israel proper, and they are not citizens of the state that was formed after they left. When Israel annexes the “West Bank” (real name Judea and Samaria), then these Arabs might be given a chance to earn citizenship if they want it. Either way, there is no apartheid, but there ARE many ignorant people in the world that love to toss that epithet onto Israel, even though they are ignorant of its meaning. The only apartheid in Israel is against the Jews, because what it means is discriminatory rule of the minority over a majority. Right now there is discrimination against the majority, Jews, with preference given to the minority, Arabs. There cannot be apartheid against the Arabs in Israel, by definition. You all out there need to find another word to use. But you may find, if you do the research, that instead of apartheid, the Arabs in Israel have many more freedoms than Arabs living in most Arab countries. There are many articles on the Internet by Arabs living in Israel that attest to the good way they’re treated.

  • Yep the NYT have been moral cowards for some time. I’ve been reading the NYT for ~60 years, and they haven’t been ethically/intellectually honest for many decades. .their cubes have been filledwith myopic, illiterate, uninformed self-hating Jews for a long time…they aren’t even interested in modern history since WWII – as recorded in their own paper’s pages…strange and pitiful…

  • Daniel

    Worth clicking on the TRANSCRIPT link and read it. The good news is that the editor says that the NYT is going out of business and that they have to have contrarian views to increase readership. What this entire story is about is the lefts assumption that they have a patent on truth. Wether I agree with Fleisher does not matter. What is proven again here is that the left is comfortable with censorship .

  • Daniel

    I used to read the NYT every day. I stopped reading the NYT about eight years ago. There is better journaiism on the world. Move on.

  • glsfbg

    I wonder what the NY Times thinks of Algemeiner & its viewpoints? No I don’t.

  • hoptoit27

    The NYT should ask its readers if they want to make the 10 + million illegal aliens in the U.S. citizens and give them the right to vote. Especially the ones who want to kill Americans.

  • LtcHoward

    As a Christian US Army officer I have been attacked for my my Christianity and my military status frequently by the New York Times The Jews of America and the Christians of America have something in common… The New York Times hates us for our values

  • A mention could have been made of the many pro-“Palestine” op-eds published in the NYT as a balance (?) to Fleisher as on April 17, 2017 by Marwan Barghouti a jail-sentenced terrorist, “The Deplorable State of Palestine” by pro-Hamas Diana Buttu on May 27, 2017 and there was “Pause for Peace” by Ahmed Yousef on Nov. 1, 2006 who was (is?) a senior adviser to the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya – and Hamas terrorist himself.

  • cbusa

    There is a horrible sickness among so-called progressives and their indoctrination outlets. They are so awash in Jew hatred that they see no hipocracy in denying the basic humanity of Israelis while unquestioningly supporting and giving voice to those who commit the most vile atrocities against Israel.

  • Alan

    Denying ‘personhood’ ?? You have got to be kidding. Well written, Ira. Thank you.