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October 17, 2018 9:06 am

New York Times Depiction of Moynihan as ‘Anti-Trump’ Ignores Jerusalem Embassy

avatar by Ira Stoll


The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

An article by a New York Times reporter uses the release of a new documentary about Daniel Patrick Moynihan to describe the former senator from New York as, according to the Times headline, “the anti-Trump.”

The article ignores ways that Moynihan and Trump are similar.

President Trump moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act that was introduced by Senator Moynihan. Moynihan’s aides used to describe this as Moynihan’s “signature issue.”

A front-page article in The New York Times itself from 1984 reported on President Reagan’s threat to veto the Moynihan Jerusalem embassy legislation, and reported, “The bill, introduced by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, a Democrat, has more than 30 sponsors in the Senate and more than 200 in the House.”

Senator Bob Dole’s press release introducing the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995 said, “Today, I am introducing S. 1322, the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995. I am pleased to do so with the distinguished senior Senator from New York, Senator Moynihan, as the lead co-sponsor. As the Senate knows, Senator Moynihan has been the expert and the leader on Jerusalem for his entire career.”

Moynihan was famous for defending Israel at the United Nations as America’s ambassador there in 1975 when the General Assembly passed its infamous resolution describing Zionism as racism. Trump too has been a staunch defender of Israel at the United Nations, as has his ambassador there, Nikki Haley.

There are other ways in which Trump and Moynihan have similarities — the Times article doesn’t note, for example, that Trump actually was a repeat donor to Moynihan’s Senate campaigns. But regardless of whether you think Moynihan was an anti-Trump or a precursor of Trump, it seems strange to write an article about the two of them without at least a nod to the Jerusalem issue, where Trump actually followed through on a law Moynihan was significantly responsible for, a law that previous administrations had flouted or waived.

The Times man who wrote the article happens to be a genuine mensch, so I am hesitant to call attention to the lapse in public. Moynihan, alas, died in 2003, so he himself can’t complain. But if his devotion to the Jerusalem issue has unfortunately been forgotten or downplayed by certain Times editorial personnel, it is nonetheless remembered with warm appreciation and gratitude by certain members of the American Jewish community, myself included.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. More of his media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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