The Times vs. Israel?
Tue, 12/20/2011

We have a long history of defending The New York Times in the face of criticism from many in our community that the paper of record has an anti-Israel bias. We have decried boycotts against the Times as foolhardy and ineffective, and in public panels and lectures we have sought to point out the distinctions between reporting that doesn’t conform to Jerusalem’s version of events and outright bias.

But in recent months it has become difficult to ignore a disturbing pattern on the Times’ editorial and op-ed pages, one that blames Israel consistently, and sometimes exclusively, for the Mideast impasse.

Editorials on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often call out Benjamin Netanyahu as the leader at fault. In doing so, the Times seems to dismiss the fact that the Israeli prime minister has repeatedly called for a two-state solution and the immediate resumption of peace talks, neither of which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to.

The long-simmering concern about the Times’ tilt came to a head publicly last week when a letter surfaced that was written by Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, to a New York Times op-ed page editor. In it Dermer declined a Times offer to publish an essay in the paper by the prime minister.

Dermer said the Times “failed to heed the late Senator Moynihan’s admonition that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that no one is entitled to their own facts.”

He cited historical inaccuracies published in a Times op-ed last May by Abbas, pointing out that the Palestinian Authority president failed to note that it was the Arabs who rejected the 1947 United Nations partition plan and launched the war against the new Jewish state in 1948.

Further, Dermer charged that 19 of the 20 op-eds about Israel in the Times and International Herald Tribune in the last three months were negative, with the one exception an essay by Richard Goldstone, author of the controversial Goldstone Report for the UN, defending Israel against the charge of apartheid. (Dermer adds that the Times earlier turned down a Goldstone essay backing off of allegations that Israel committed war crimes during the fighting with Hamas in Gaza. It was published in The Washington Post.)

Perhaps most upsetting was a charge made by Times columnist Tom Friedman in his Dec. 13 column that the standing ovation Netanyahu received in Congress this year “was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

Reflecting the anger of many Jewish leaders, David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, wrote in his blog that Friedman “crossed a line” with the Israel lobby statement, which he called “inaccurate and shockingly insidious,” conjuring up “the ugliest anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

In an interview with The Jewish Week on Tuesday, Friedman said: “In retrospect I probably should have used a more precise term like ‘engineered’ by the Israel lobby — a term that does not suggest grand conspiracy theories that I don’t subscribe to,” he said. “It would have helped people focus on my argument, which I stand by 100 percent.”

That argument was about the need to distinguish between American and Israeli interests at times, and to note that many American Jews “are deeply worried about where Israel is going today.” He cited a number of examples of acts and statements that suggest disturbing political and cultural shifts in Israeli society.

Friedman has often written of his support for the State of Israel, despite his sometimes sharp criticism of Jerusalem’s policies. His was a lonely voice of support for Israel in the mainstream press during the Israeli army’s military campaigns against Hamas and Hezbollah.

Many of us share at least some of the concerns Friedman and others express. But we worry that too often criticisms of Israel are leveled without an appreciation for its struggles to survive and thrive as a vibrant democracy in a sea of hostility, amid a world obsessed with the Jewish state’s every flaw and perceived flaw.

We expect no more from the Arab states and the UN; we do expect more from The New York Times.

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Comments

Let us dispense with all the niceties of political correctness and state, with no exaggeration or inaccuracy, that entities such as the New York Times and the Obama administration constitute - to paraphrase an American friend of mine - the polite fascade of vicious Anti-Semitism.
No, in fact, let us also dispense with the phrase 'Anti-semitism, for it is both wildly inaccurate and far too courteous; let us say 'Jew-hating,' since the attempt to distinguish between Israel and Jews is nothing but a tired, old ruse.
Let us also point out that there was never a lack of Jews who despised their own people, and in all probability, themselves.
Infamous persons like Tom Friedman, Noam Chomsky and Shulamit Aloni (former Israeli MK and Minister of Education, who blamed the 8-year Hamas missile attack on Israel) join the modern Ameleks who unceasingly endeavor to destroy Jewish nationalism.
It's time the Jewish People stopped apologizing to themseves and the rest of the world for vigorously asserting their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the world will continue to be antagonistic even if we cower, compromise, concede or surrender.

'He [Friedman] cited a number of examples of acts and statements that suggest disturbing political and cultural shifts in Israeli society.'
You've got to be kidding!If Friedman and his defenders are concerned about 'disturbing political and cultural shifts', they need to look no further than Syria, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc., etc. There they can rail against 'political and cultural shifts' all day long and never end. Compared to those neighbors, Israel is peaceful cloud floating on a tranquil sea. Normal people trying to understand the world, easily see the stark contrast between Israel's vibrant democracy and the Arab world's barbarism and savagery. Friedman, on the other hand, sees the world through the pink -colored glasses of the dedicated leftist. To Friedman, the Arab uprising taking place in Egypt and other locales is uplifting and a sign of social progress. If only that were true, Friedman would not be so widely criticized. Closer to the truth is the flushing down the toilet of thousands of Arab lives whose sole outcome is going to be the seizing and consolidating of power by radical Islamists. I'm waiting for Friedman's next brain-excretion to explain why another failed terrorist state on Israel's border is good for America and Israel - if only Israel would roll with it and understand the beneifits.

We often complain that most of the countries of the world are against Israel and wonder why this is the case. Maybe it is we who are myopic. Maybe it is not antisemitism at all, but reality.

Where have you been? The NYTimes has been anti-Israel and anti-Zionist since there was a state of Israel being formed. The reporters are always renegade Jews who report on Israel as being always in the wrong. And yet, and yet,...the Arab press and general anti-Israel, anti-zionist reporters and papers and media in general, speak of the NYTimes as being a zionist puppet. NPR is like this and so are many segments of the media. What is happening, though, is that only the conservatives are pro-Israel. It makes for quite a quandry for people like me who do not want to vote, ever, ever, ever, for someone like Newt or any of them. What is to be done?

Let me see if I understand:
The proclaimed problem: The Times doesn't publish enough of the pro-Israel perspective.
The solution: When the pro-Israel perspective is solicited by the Times, do NOT contribute.
Seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me.

The Times has been anti-Israel for many years, if not decades. Your past support for the Times is not something you should be proud of. Even now, your criticism is weak. It reads like the mush that gets published in the Times editorial page. What you think foolhardy, I think wise. We don't need a formal boycot of the Times. It is simply a statement that we don't give financial support to those strongly opposed to our interests and values. Would you support a boycot of Der Sturmer?

"Friedman a lonely voice of support for Israel." When was that, because it escapes my memory.

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