Tuesday, May 24th | 23 Iyyar 5782

June 7, 2020 1:05 pm

Republican Senator Writes New York Times Op-Ed. Zionist Jews Get Blamed.

avatar by Ira Stoll


Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Photo: Screenshot.

Anti-Israel groups are pouncing on a controversy over an opinion piece by a Republican senator in the New York Times, scapegoating two openly Zionist editors there.

The article by Senator Tom Cotton, headlined “Send in the Troops,” called for the deployment of the US military to quell what the article called an “orgy of violence,” and “rioters and looters” in American cities following the death in police custody of George Floyd. It was published June 3 and immediately promoted protest within the Times. A news article in the Times reported that “more than 800 staff members signed a letter protesting its publication.” The same news article reported that “the Op-Ed was edited by Adam Rubenstein, according to staff members in the editorial department.” (The news article originally used the verb “handled,” but the verb was stealth-edited post-publication to “edited.”) More than two dozen New York Times employees called in sick to protest the article.

Anti-Israel groups are seizing on the flap to target the few openly Zionist editors at the Times, including Rubenstein and Bari Weiss.

“The New York Times opinion desk has a neoconservative problem,” was the headline over an article published by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. “The Cotton article —brimming with bloodlust for black people and their allies, and riddled with factual inaccuracies — was edited by Adam Rubenstein, a young editor who joined the Times’ opinion section last year,” the Quincy Institute article said, using the classical antisemitic trope of depicting Jews as bloodthirsty. “Before joining the news industry, Rubenstein participated in discussions on the Iraq War and Jewish thought and politics at the Hertog Foundation — the foundation of neoconservative funder Roger Hertog — and the Tikvah Fund, which has seeded an array of right-wing publications devoted to defending Israel and neoconservative thought.”

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The Quincy Institute article ties Rubenstein in with Bari Weiss and with columnist Bret Stephens, reporting that Weiss “has gone after critics of Israeli government policies” and that Stephens “has used his platform to continue to call for military action against Iran and extol the virtues of ‘Jewish genius.’”

The Electronic Intifada, an anti-Israel website, covered the flap with an article headlined “NY Times editor who ran Tom Cotton op-ed is anti-Palestinian activist.” The article reports: “Four years ago as a student at Kenyon College in Ohio, Rubenstein attacked Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and guest speaker Remi Kanazi.” The Electronic Intifada also moved on to attack Weiss, too: “Now this anti-Palestinian bigot and crusader against academic freedom and freedom of thought is preening as a defender of free speech – but primarily for far-right-wing speakers, including a senator who wants to unleash the might of the US army on people protesting racialized police brutality.”

“Name the problem: Zionist repression,” a former professor quoted in the Electronic Intifada article, Steven Salaita, said in response to Tweets criticizing Weiss, who had weighed in with a Twitter thread about the oped.

A visiting professor at the University of Miami, Rula Jebreal, also tried to connect the Cotton op-ed to Israel or Zionism. “Bari weiss who consistently defends Israel’s racism/ apartheid, led hate campaigns to chill Arab academics, denigrates her Black colleagues, horrified at publishing a fascist op-ed during uprising over racist police violence, as ‘mostly young wokes.’ Some ally,” Jebreal wrote.

The effort to blame Weiss or Rubenstein for the situation generated some pushback. “‘Blame Weiss and Rubenstein’ is the NYT’s new motto, and unlike its previous one, accurately describes what the paper aims to do every day of the week and twice on Shabbos,” quipped Seth Mandel, executive editor of the Washington Examiner magazine.

Another Washington Examiner editor, Grant Addison, said of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft article, “this isn’t even dog-whistling, just straight up anti-semitic finger pointing.”

The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matt Brooks, tweeted that Rubenstein “is an incredibly smart and talented young man. This scapegoating of him is shameful and wrong!!”

Saturday night, a more senior Times opinion-page editor accepted responsibility for the Cotton op-ed. “I oversaw the acceptance and review of the Cotton Op-Ed. None of this is on @rubensteinadam. The fault here should be directed at the @nytopinion leadership team and not at an intrepid and highly competent junior staffer,” said a tweet from Jim Dao.

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

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