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‘Powerful’ Rabbis Brought AOC to Tears, New York Times Claims in Passage Assailed for Antisemitism

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avatar by Ira Stoll


A taxi passes by in front of The New York Times head office, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri / File.

The New York Times initially described the tears of a member of Congress voting on funding a missile shield for Israel as underscoring “how wrenching the vote was even for outspoken progressives, who have been caught between their principles and the still powerful pro-Israel voices in their party, such as influential lobbyists and rabbis.”

The sentence was later stealth-edited to say simply, “The tableau underscored how wrenching the vote was for even outspoken progressives, who have been caught between their principles and the still powerful pro-Israel voices in their party.”

The article was by Catie Edmondson, who did not immediately respond to my email seeking an explanation of what happened with the edit.

Times readers reacted with outrage to the idea of a member of Congress having to choose between principle and “powerful” and “influential” “rabbis,” a storyline that some said echoed classical antisemitic stereotypes.

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A professor at George Mason University’s Scalia Law School, David Bernstein, commented, “‘Influential lobbyists and rabbis’ is the New York Times’ euphemism for the more explicitly antisemitic ‘rich Jews.’ I mean, ‘rabbis?’ Really?”

A former Israeli diplomat in Washington, Lenny Ben-David, tweeted a photo of hook-nosed, bearded Jews holding knives and menacing a child. “The @nytimes left out its illustration of the Jewish lobbyists and rabbis,” he commented sarcastically.

A senior research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, Gilead Ini, pointed out that the “influential lobbyists and rabbis” line appeared in some print editions of the Times. “So the question is still in play: Does the @nytimes stand by its ugly, absurd, and antisemitic language? Or will readers of the print edition be told that there was a problem with what was delivered to their doorstep this morning?”

The diplomatic correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, Lahav Harkov, commented, “Times editor forgot to take out the open antisemitism. Whoops!”

A former Times editor, Mark Horowitz, said the Times had let “real biases show.”

Fox News noticed: “‘I do think most #Jews find it offensive – if not outright #antisemtic – to frame #rabbis as coercive conspiring emotional blackmailers into true belief – @AOC can make up her own mind – do better @nytimes,’ Sara Yael Hirschhorn, a visiting assistant Israeli studies professor at Northwestern University, scolded the Times.”

The Times article already carries one correction: “an earlier version of this article misstated the final tally for the funding vote. It was 420 to 9, not 490 to 9.” It’s unfortunately typical of the Times to correct or stealth-edit some of the mistakes, but to leave the basic framing issues uncorrected.

There’s no consideration given to the possibility that certain of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive principles might be consistent with missile defense — the idea, for example, that civilians, including Arabs and foreign workers in Israel, should be safe from rockets shot by the Hamas terrorist group that controls Gaza. Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist group, is not exactly “progressive” when it comes to gay rights or feminism.

There’s no consideration given to the idea that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s constituents might themselves oppose leaving such civilians vulnerable to Hamas attack. And nor is any consideration given to the principle that the missile defense decreases the need for Israel to invade and re-occupy Gaza, at considerable cost of lives. Instead, it’s all about the powerful and influential rabbis and lobbyists. As if the Hamas side doesn’t also have powerful allies, like the powerful and influential New York Times owners and editors who consistently publish material like this? The newspaper’s managers seem caught between their principles of not letting their Jew-hatred be too blatantly obvious and their influential, powerful paying base of far-left, Israel-hating readers and commenters.

The Times publishes editorial after editorial denouncing antisemitism: “New York needs to show up against antisemitism” and “As the world once again contends with this age-old enemy, it is not enough to refrain from empowering it. It is necessary to stand in opposition.” A good place to begin would be with the paper’s own Congressional coverage.

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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