Violent Gangs Target Jews, the New York Times Insists They Are ‘Overwhelmingly Peaceful’
Reporting on a firebombing in New York’s diamond district and other anti-Jewish violence, a New York Times news article insists, “The protests remained overwhelmingly peaceful and organizers said they believed some were among the largest demonstrations in support of Palestinian people in New York in recent memory.”
Other news organizations are describing the New York attacks as an example of a trend of militia-like pro-Palestinian gang violence targeting Jews in Europe and America. But the Times seems bent on emphasizing the peacefulness of it.
If the Times interviewed any of these “overwhelmingly peaceful” protesters to ask them their views of the Hamas terrorist organization raining rockets on Israeli civilians, there’s no sign of it in the article.
As it is, it’s hard not to read the “overwhelmingly peaceful” claim as a sign that the Times supports the cause. Other movements that have recently received the “overwhelmingly peaceful” label from the Times include abortion-rights protests by Polish women and Black Lives Matter protest marches in New York City against racism and police brutality. Not described as “overwhelmingly peaceful” by the Times were the anti-abortion “March for Life” in Washington, DC and a Jewish-organized rally against antisemitism.
I can understand the reporter or editor’s instinct to provide readers with some context — if there were tens of thousands of protesters and only one or two were violent, that probably does bear mentioning somehow. But given the scale of the apparent violence and the hatefulness of targeting Jews, the “overwhelmingly peaceful” language comes off as tone-deaf in this particular case.
It’s not much consolation to the Jews who were beat up or had incendiary devices thrown at them that some other pro-Palestinian protesters that day didn’t attack any Jews.
The mayor of New York’s statement, as quoted by the Times, referred to a “vicious act of hate,” not the supposed peacefulness of those other protesters who kindly refrained from beating up Jews.
For Times editors or publishers who don’t grasp this point, a hypothetical example may help. Imagine if a large group of Jews angry about Times news coverage approached some members of the Sulzberger family. Imagine that most of the Jews did not attack, but several of them did throw firecrackers or violently beat up the members of the family that publishes the Times. I’m not encouraging that; in fact, please do not do that; it would be wrong, and a crime, and for good reason. But if, heaven forfend, such an attack took place, do you think the Times would be saying that the crowd of Jews was “overwhelmingly peaceful”? As President Biden would say, “Come on.”
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.