New York Times ‘Deceitful’ Coverage Fuels ‘Violent Jew-Hatred,’ Puts Jews in Danger, Israeli Ambassador Says
by Ira Stoll
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, accused last week the New York Times of “overt anti-Israel bias,” saying that the Times’ “deceitful” coverage is endangering Jews worldwide.
In a two-page letter to the executive editor of the Times, Joseph Kahn, the ambassador cited a yearlong study of the Times conducted by Bar-Ilan University.
“Despite Israel being a globally-renowned force for good, your publication intentionally and systematically hides the truth from its readership, depicting an utterly distorted and falsified reality in which Israel is the root of all evil,” Erdan’s letter says. “The Times deliberately ignores the facts and opts to falsely brand Israel as a flagrant human rights violator.”
Erdan backed up his claims with numerical evidence that he said demonstrated the newspaper’s “hatred against the Jewish State.”
“For every article that portrayed Israel in a somewhat positive light five demonized the Jewish State. Such staggering disparity cannot be mere chance,” he wrote. “The number of opinion columns condemning Israel was nearly double those condemning Iran, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers and the number one state-sponsor of terror. Could this possibly be a coincidence?”
“The Times actively promoted anti-Israel libels,” Erdan wrote. “The Times had no problem associating an Israeli elected official, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, with terrorism a whopping 20 times in 2022. Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the murderous terror organization Hamas, that sentences Gazans to death without trial and indiscriminately fires rockets at Israeli civilians, was referenced in conjunction with terrorism only twice and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, not even once.”
“The Times’ selective reporting relays a subtext in which Israel is the monster and the Palestinians are the perpetual victims. This is an utter distortion of reality and moral bankruptcy on a colossal scale,” Erdan wrote. He accused the Times of “whitewashing of Palestinian terror.”
“Much of today’s violent Jew-hatred takes the form of Israel-hatred. And part of the blame for this growing bigotry lays on your shoulders. The New York Times’ libelous narratives are actively contributing to the growing hatred of my country, and as a result, your publication plays a role in endangering Jews around the globe,” Erdan wrote.
The ambassador asked Kahn to “do some extensive house-cleaning to abolish the hatred and lies being spread by some of your contributors and editors.” Wrote Erdan: “I expect some significant changes to be made.”
A New York Times spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Algemeiner seeking a response to the ambassador’s letter.
Erdan’s letter is only the latest in a stream of official statements against the Times from Israeli diplomats and elected officials. In April 2019, Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, called the Times “a cesspool of hostility towards Israel.
“The same New York Times that a century ago mostly hid from their readers the Holocaust of the Jewish people has today made its pages a safe-space for those who hate the Jewish state,” Dermer said in 2019. “Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and antisemitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil.”
In December of 2022, Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the time was the apparent incoming prime minister, accused the Times of “burying the Holocaust for years on its back pages and demonizing Israel for decades on its front pages.” The Times, Netanyahu said then, “continues to delegitimize the one true democracy in the Middle East and America’s best ally in the region.”
The Times does not appear to have adjusted or improved its coverage in response to the criticism. If anything, it has dug in.
On Friday March 3, the newspaper published a full page “visual investigation,” with the bylines of four Times journalists and “additional reporting” and “video production” by two more. That piece relied heavily on Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, without disclosing to Times readers that he is a longtime activist in favor of boycotting Israel. The gist of the piece is to depict Israelis as bloodthirsty killers of innocent Palestinian civilians: “They appear to be posing no threat to the Israeli forces when they are shot from behind.”
By contrast, the murder by Palestinians of a former Columbia University student from Connecticut, Elan Ganeles, has so far been relegated by the Times to three paragraphs at the end of an unrelated article.
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.