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January 13, 2021 6:31 pm

Citing ‘Beauty and Innocence,’ New York Times Puts Iran on ’52 Places to Love in 2021′ List

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avatar by Ira Stoll


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

The New York Times has placed Iran — but not Israel — on its list of “52 Places to Love in 2021.”

“People see Iran as politically charged and oppressive. But there is a lot of beauty and innocence,” the Times-chosen item on Isfahan explains, sounding like the tourist promotion authority for the terror-sponsoring, genocide-intending, nuclear-bomb-building Islamic Republic. One excellent reason that “people see Iran” as oppressive, after all, is that it is oppressive.

The annual feature is usually called “52 Places to Go,” but the headline was reworked for the pandemic, which has restricted travel. The paper narrowed down the list from what it said were 2,000 reader submissions.

The reader who submitted the Isfahan item, Neeknaz Abari, wrote, “There’s a difference between the people and the government. I wish Americans could see the vibrant curiosity of the people who live here. I used to visit Isfahan every year. I spent long mornings lifting weights in the women-only gyms, and afternoons with my grandfather, watching him lovingly watering the plants in his garden and shooing away stray cats. But divisive politics, and now Covid-19, have made it harder.”

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“Divisive politics” is a euphemism for what a Times op-ed published this week accurately describes as Iran’s “appalling campaign of kidnapping and execution, its policy of using arrested dual nationals as hostages.” A Times news article this week also acknowledged that “Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was assassinated in Tehran in August.” Said the Times news article, “It is true that Iran has consistently and unconvincingly denied housing Qaeda officials.”

It is certainly accurate, at least, that there is a difference between the Iranian people and the Iranian government.

The last time the Times put Iran on its “52 Places” list, in 2019, the travel journalist the newspaper hired to visit all 52 places eventually had to concede it was too dangerous to go there: “in consulting with security experts, the risks of deportation or detention are just too high.”

The Times itself was charging up to $135,000 apiece for luxury “Times Journey” tours that included stops in Iran and Havana and an “exclusive brunch” with the paper’s then-publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. For a lower price, the paper ran tours of Iran chaperoned by Times journalists. The paper finally suspended the trips in 2018 under pressure.

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.

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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