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March 5, 2019 8:57 am

New York Times Pushes Jerusalem Label on West Bank-Affiliated Scholar

avatar by Ira Stoll

Opinion

The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A front-page New York Times article headlinedIsrael’s Riddle: Is Netanyahu Irreplaceable?” refers to “Micah Goodman, a Jerusalem-based scholar” and subsequently to “Mr. Goodman, the Jerusalem scholar.”

Back in 2017, when the Times profiled Goodman, it said, “He is a researcher at the Hartman Institute, a center for Jewish scholars in Jerusalem, and the director of Ein Prat, a pluralistic beit midrash, or center of Jewish study for young adults from all backgrounds, in the desert near Jericho in the West Bank. Mr. Goodman lives nearby with his wife and twin 8-year-old daughters in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Adumim, but he said: ‘I would rather not be called a settler. It’s where I live, not who I am.’”

The Ein Prat website still lists Goodman as the chief executive officer. I guess it’s possible he’s moved to Jerusalem from Kfar Adumim, but if not, it’s odd that the Times would choose to emphasize his “Jerusalem-based” Hartman affiliation at the expense of his West Bank-based Ein Prat affiliation. Perhaps Goodman, with his self-deprecating humor, his Hebrew University Ph.D., and his references to Freud, William James, and John Dewey, doesn’t fit the Times stereotype of a Jewish resident of the West Bank, so the Times can’t quite bring itself to call him that. The Times doesn’t call him an Israeli scholar, either, though he is that, too.

I’m a fan of Goodman’s and am happy to see him quoted in the Times. But the harping on him as a Jerusalemite — twice in one relatively short article — is strange.

It’s a subtle point. But it’s also the sort of small detail that, when added to all the other small details that the Times gets wrong, erodes the newspaper’s reputation and contributes to the perception that the Times isn’t quite getting the Israel story right.

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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