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Jewish Non-Readers Showing “Solidarity” With New York Times Labor Union, With Humor, Glee

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avatar by Ira Stoll

Opinion

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

Long-suffering Jewish readers and non-readers of New York Times are greeting the one-day walkout of 1,100 of the paper’s unionized staff with a classic Jewish response—humor, cloaking deep frustration with the newspaper’s biased and inaccurate coverage of Israel and Jewry in general.

“Orthodox Jews will be safer with the chance that the New York Times won’t be able to put out another biased story,” tweeted Yaakov (Jack) Kaplan, the vice chair of Community Board 12 in Brooklyn, in response to the New York Times Guild’s work stoppage pledge.

In response to a union plea that readers avoid the newspaper’s products for the day, another Jewish community leader, Chaskel Bennett, said wryly, “Many of us had a head start. Since your nasty one-sided hit piece against Yeshivas, we have not visited any of your platforms. Consider us standing in solidarity as we boycott the @nytimes.”

Another Orthodox Jewish Times reader (or former reader) expressed hope that the journalist walkout, or reader timeout, might last longer than just 24 hours. “Stand in more solidarity! Keep this up for a complete year!” quipped one tweeter, from an account @ @HaMeturgeman.

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“Tough one,” the blogger Daniel Greenfield remarked. “Do I continue boycotting the New York Times or break my boycott to spite the even worse NYT union?”

Watchdog group Honest Reporting didn’t respond to an invitation from the Algemeiner to comment on the Times labor strife, and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis politely took a pass.

If you were observing a day away from the Times in solidarity with the union, among the Israel-bashing articles you might have missed were a piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin that left readers with the blatantly false impression that Israel is backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From that article:

Benjamin Netanyahu, the recently re-elected Israeli prime minister, has been reluctant to provide air defense missile systems to Ukraine. Why?…

“There’s always a balance,” he said. “Leaders do this every day. In general, foreign policy and democracy is a combination of moral principles and expediency. What assumes primacy? Interests or values? The answer is neither. You balance the two.”

Is it moral to support Mr. Putin’s war against Ukraine? Of course not.

But Mr. Netanyahu had a different explanation: “I’ll tell you where you draw the line,” he said. “When things relate to your very existence, that comes first.”

In fact, far from being in “support” of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, as the Times falsely suggests, the reality is that Netanyahu has publicly criticized it.

Readers taking a one-day break from the Times also have missed a Times article (the second one this week on the point) interpreting Palestinian flag-waving at the World Cup as a genuine expression of the “Arab street.” Only gently, toward the end of the article, does the Times reporter elliptically note that expressions in favor of gay rights or freedom in Iran have been squelched by Qatari authorities, leaving Palestine as the only cause allowed for public expression. The article’s headline, “Waving the Flag of the World Cup’s Unofficial Team,” totally misleads readers about the point that the flag-waving is officially approved, or at least allowed.

All in all, it’s enough to make one wish that Times management holds firm and that the union seeks a strike authorization vote, which its negotiators said was a possible next step if contract negotiations fail to progress.

There is one union demand that Jewish Times readers might welcome, however. At the union walkout rally event, which the Algemeiner monitored via livestream, New York Times magazine staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who is also a faculty member at Howard Unversity and whose byline last appeared in the Times on June 24, 2020, said “we are asking that a committee on diversity be established that looks at groups that are underrepresented.” Chasidic and other Orthodox Jews are famously rare-to-nonexistent among Times journalists and editors, so perhaps readers upset about the yeshiva coverage should be rooting for the union. I doubt that those are the underrepresented groups Hannah-Jones has in mind, but you never know.

Until then, for longtime Times critics, a conflict of Times union versus Times management brings to mind an American strategist’s cynically grim quip about the Iran-Iraq war—one hopes it lasts a long time, with lots of casualties on both sides.

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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