Editor Who Pushed Anti-Zionism Gets a Promotion at New York Times
The new Sunday Opinion editor of the New York Times will be Max Strasser, a longtime critic of Israel who, as a Times editor, championed Peter Beinart’s public renunciation of Zionism.
The news was greeted with dismay by at least one watchdog monitoring and combating anti-Israel bias in the press. “Expect even more anti-Israel sentiment from NYT opinion. (And by anti-Israel, I also mean anti-the-very-existence-of-the-Jewish-state, in line with Strasser’s own ideology),” tweeted Gilead Ini, a senior research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.
A July 2020 Algemeiner column — “Meet Max Strasser, Israel Critic on the Ascent at Post-Bari Weiss New York Times” — reported that with Weiss’s departure, “the go-to-editor on Israel-related matters at one of world’s the most influential opinion journalism platforms is a 2009 Oberlin College graduate, Max Strasser, who is a vocal public critic of the idea of a Jewish state.”
The column detailed Strasser’s track record. In a 2010 opinion article published in the Forward, Strasser wrote, “I’m afraid this is going to be a hard pill for the older generation to swallow: the idea of a state that is officially defined as ‘Jewish’ is in conflict with the worldviews of many in my generation. … A state that is predicated on ethnic nationalism, a state that privileges one group of citizens over another because of ethnic identity, as Israel does through its policies on housing, immigration and a number of other issues, is not a state that will be wholeheartedly embraced by young American Jews like me.”
In a 2010 article for Foreign Policy, Strasser referred to the Mossad as “Israel’s infamous intelligence agency.” The article concluded that a theory that Mossad was behind shark attacks in Egypt was “farfetched,” but nonetheless repeated the claim under the headline “Egypt’s shark week: Mossad to blame?”
When Beinart publicly renounced Zionism, Strasser tweeted out the link with enthusiastic approval: “This intelligent, searching piece by @PeterBeinart in @nytopinion may strike some as ‘controversial’ today but I think before too long it will be mainstream opinion among American Jewish liberals.”
A Times press release announcing Strasser’s promotion said, “After nearly five years in London, Max Strasser will be returning to New York this fall to be the new editor of the recently renamed and redesigned Sunday Opinion. … Max will bring his keen judgment, editorial skill and experience in Opinion to the section, where he will curate Sunday Opinion, assign and edit long-form essays and work with Opinion’s story editors, columnists and contributing writers on Opinion’s signature weekly print product.”
Strasser did not immediately reply to an email from the Algemeiner asking whether the 2010 Forward article and the tweet about the Beinart article remained accurate summations of his current views on Israel, or whether his positions had since evolved significantly. If there has been a shift in his views, there has been no public indication of it that I could find.
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.