16 December 2011
The New York Times hates Israel

The brouhaha over the recent New York Times column by Tom Friedman highlights the newspaper’s increasing hostility against Israel. Today, it would not be an exaggeration to state that the editorial policy of the NYT towards the Jewish state is virtually indistinguishable from the blatant anti-Israeli hostility promoted by the UK based Guardian or the BBC.

Fortunately, the broader American public opinion has never been more supportive of the Jewish State than today. The only exceptions are the liberals, some of whom have become increasingly disenchanted with Israel and now tend to identify with their European counterparts and their excessive bias against Israel. This manifests itself on American campuses and to some extent in far-left sectors of the Democratic Party. It represents the source of the tensions which have evolved between Israel and the United States following the election of the Obama administration.

One of the principal long-term contributing factors to the erosion of liberal support can be attributed to increasing vitriolic hostility against Israel displayed in the pages of the New York Times. This trend climaxed with the election of Binyamin Netanyahu who has been subjected to a constant and unprecedented barrage of fierce personal and political condemnations from its editorials and leading columnists.

Despite Jewish ownership, throughout its history, the New York Times has rarely displayed affection or sensitivity towards Jewish issues. As far back as 1929, during the Arab riots in Palestine, the local Times correspondent, Joseph Levy, boasted that he was a committed anti-Zionist.

There is ample evidence that during the Holocaust, news of the slaughter of the Jews was relegated to the back pages allegedly out of cowardly concern that undue clamor about the plight of the Jews might reinforce the anti-Semitic claim that the war against the Nazis was a Jewish war.

Since the creation of Israel, the NYT could be said to be “fairly objective”. But from 1967 onwards, this evolved into sharp criticism. However, it was with the election of Prime Minister Netanyahu, that the editors embarked on a determined all-out campaign to undermine and demonize the Israeli government whilst invariably providing the Palestinians with a free pass.

A constant stream of unbalanced editorials blasted Israel for the impasse and mercilessly attacked the government. It continuously “put the greater onus” for the failure of peace negotiations on Netanyahu “who is using any excuse to thwart peace efforts” and” refuses to make any serious compromises for peace”.

Its columnists and op-eds have done likewise. For a newspaper purporting to provide diverse opinions, it rarely publishes dissenting viewpoints from its editorials and in house columns which only find fault with the Israeli government. One notable exception was Likud MK Danny Danon, to whom the NYT provided a column in which he expressed a viewpoint far to the right of the government which simply amounted to a cheap effort to discredit the government by conveying a far more hardline position than the reality.

Its principal columnists Tom Friedman and Roger Cohen (both Jews) and Nicolas Kristof have been leading the charge in castigating Israel and unabashedly praising the Arab Spring.

In a recent column, Kristof described a dinner with a PR savvy group of Moslem Brotherhood activists. Kristof approvingly quoted them claiming that their support was strong “for the same reason the Germans support Christian Democrats or Southerners favor conservative Christians”. He also postulated that “conservative Moslems insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood is non-discriminatory and the perfect home for pious Christians – and a terrific partner for the West”. Kristof concluded that “it’s reasonable to worry. But let’s not overdo it… Our fears often reflect our own mental hobgoblins”. Kristof did not meet the Muslim Brotherhood chief cleric, Sheikh Yusuf al Kardawi, the organization’s most powerful religious leader, an evil anti-Semite who supports the murder of Jews.

Roger Cohen is another regular columnist whose undisguised hostility towards Israel led him to condemn the Jewish state’s “obsession with the [Iranian] nuclear bogeyman” and praise Turkey’s anti-Semitic Prime Minister Erdogan whilst condemning Israel for not apologizing to the Turks over the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.

Virtually every op-ed published was hostile to Israel. Last month, the NYT published a piece which went to the lengths of challenging Israel’s position on gay rights. In May PA President Mahmoud Abbas published an op-ed falsely accusing Israel of initiating the war in 1948 by expelling Palestinians Arabs and obligating Arab armies to intervene.  Initially, the NYT refused to publish Goldstone’s withdrawal of apartheid and war crimes charges against Israel, only doing so some months later after it had appeared in the Washington Post.

But it is Tom Friedman’s most recent column, which is the most outrageous.

In his uniquely arrogant manner, over the past few years Friedman has been consistently mirroring NYT editorials castigating Netanyahu who he loathes and alleging that Israel had become “the most diplomatically inept and outrageously incompetent government in Israel’s history“. He accused Netanyahu of choosing to protect the Pharaoh rather than support Obama who aided the “democratization” of Egypt. He went so far as to say that Netanyahu was “on the way to becoming the Hosni Mubarak of the peace process“.

Last February, after being in Tahrir Square, Friedman exulted that the “people” had achieved “freedom” and were heading towards democracy. He dismissed concerns that the Moslem Brotherhood would become a dominant party.

In his latest column he broadly condemned all aspects of Israeli society even quoting Gideon Levy, the Haaretz correspondent, who most Israelis regard as being more aligned with the Palestinian campaign against Israel than his own country. He described Levy as “a powerful liberal voice” and quoted him alleging that Israel is becoming a failed democratic state.

What provoked the greatest indignation was his remark “I sure hope that Israel’s Prime Minister understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby”.

For a Jew, purporting to be a friend of Israel, to effectively endorse the distorted thesis relating to the Israeli lobby promoted by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer is unconscionable. Friedman is effectively parroting a hoary anti-Semitic libel asserting that Congress has been “bought” by American Jews who represent 2% of the population and that the vast majority of the American public supporting Israel and Congress are simply stooges, manipulated or bribed by the Israeli lobby.

It places him on a par with the anti-Semitic attitudes promoted by Pat Buchanan and one may rest assured that Israel’s enemies will fully exploit his remarks as a means of discrediting American support for the Jewish State.

Friedman continued, suggesting that Netanyahu should test genuine American public opinion by speaking at a liberal campus like the University of Wisconsin, absurdly implying that far left liberal campuses are more representative of American attitudes than the democratically elected Congress.

New York Times editorials and columns like that of Tom Friedman should not be treated lightly. They must be viewed in the context of the recent condemnations of Israel emanating from higher echelons of the Obama administration. Unless vigorously repudiated, these critiques will have a drip effect with the potential of undermining the hitherto prevailing bipartisan consensus over Israel.


This column was originally published in Israel Hayom


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About Author

Isi Leibler

Isi Leibler is a veteran international Jewish leader with a distinguished record of contributions to the Jewish world and the cause of human rights, including the struggle for Soviet Jewry. He was head of the Jewish community in Australia for many years and made aliya in 1999. Leibler has held senior roles in the World Jewish Congress, including chairman of the governing board and senior vice president. Today, he writes prolifically and is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post and Yisrael Hayom.

(15) Readers Comments

  1. To NYT: I agree with Isi Leibler that the NYT is growing increasingly anti-Israel.
    As blood flows in the streets of Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Iraq,
    Afghanistan, Gaza and other Islamic countries and strongholds (in ME, Africa
    and Asia), the Times concentrates on downsizing and condemning Israel for
    being the one successful, free, law-abiding and progressive country in the

    It seems that your writers (some of whom are Jewish) are pandering to show
    just how hateful they can be towards their co-religionists and how “liberal”
    they are. In this case “liberal” means siding with countries and terror
    groups that support terrorism, sharia law, misogyny and brutality towards
    women, and a predilection for the Muslim Brotherhood whom the “liberals”
    see as a panacea for the people of the region and an antidote that will give
    Islamists the collective strength to wipe Israel off the map (with the help
    of NYT journalists).

    These journalists also think that it is Iran’s right to have nukes (because
    Israel has nukes) and they downplay the dangers of both the brotherhood and
    the Iranians to Israel and the world.

    It is disgusting that these journalists are so biased and so self-loathing
    that they do not know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.
    They have effectively lost all credibility and their work is both
    meaningless and destructive.

    I would ask these journalists and NYT brass to spend some time in Islamic
    dictatorships to see what they are supporting and to then spend time in
    Israel to see what they are trying to ruin.

  2. As the government of Israel treats is Jews, so the international community treats the State of Israel.

    If you don’t understand what I mean, please read this article it is well worth reading:
    Who Dares Raise His Hand Against a Soldier?
    The front page of the hebrew language hareidi daily Hamavaser Thursday was dominated by an article by journalist Eliyahu Zalmanovitz accusing the government of hypocrisy and of smearing Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria.


  3. it is highly ironic that the majority of virulent jew bashers aver that the media is controlled by the jews and therefore
    big supporters of jewish causes and israel , and zionism’s supposed evil plot to control the world.
    Yet here we have powerful media not only opposed to the state of israel but viciously and irresponsibly
    providing fuel to the hordes of haters and bigots to destroy the very state that gives jews their identity.
    Collaborating with heinous murderous child killers who venerate death is wrong on so many levels but unfortunately the path chosen by the despicable NY times is a hard one to get off without looking very foolish
    and so they will stick to their jew bashing after it sells better than any other approach, always has and always will.
    Denouncing jews and promoting anti semitism is and always will be, a fail safe and most poewerful glue uniting any causes no matter how disparate or vile.

  4. Care to respond to any of the points that he actually made in the article?

  5. Liberals have lately become more strident and hostile to anyone who doesn’t agree with them totally, whether they are right or wrong…
    It used to be different. People disagreed civilly and amiably. After all, we were raised to let everyone have the right to his or her ideas. A change has taken place in the last few decades, and not for the better. A herd mentality has taken over overwhelming the individual thinking so prevalent in the past.
    People have begun to twist the liberties we did enjoy for so long in this country and a few others around the world, while noticing that there was no serious consequence to their behavior, became more and more emboldened and desensitized to the , beliefs, thoughts and feelings of those who disagree with them no matter what’s right or factual. Feelings overtook truth and self-interest overtook facts
    Among certain groups there developed a tendency to react violently if someone disagrees, a kind of “spoiled child” behavior. Some groups react with “tantrums” if they are not instantly gratified or are disagreed with”!!!
    Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen, Nicolas Kristof, Gideon Levy, etc. that you quote in your article, are good examples of this behavior. I wonder whether any of them would have grown to be as well-known as they are today, if he had stuck to the truth and not spewed the ridiculous ideas about the Arab Spring, the Moslem Brotherhood or been kind and written something favorable about the government of Israel, etc.
    As it turns out, all this is moot, because the Arab Spring is slowly turning into the Arab Winter, and the Moslem Brotherhood, will have sufficient time and space to flex their muscles in most of the Middle East. None of these men has been able to discern the true picture.
    I do not know much about the New York Times in earlier years. I do know that they, as you say in your editorial, “rarely display affection or sensitivity towards Jewish issues”…. Obviously they are accommodating a specific audience… Without the truth and without facts.
    Are Jews the only ones who are able to love or to hate their ancestral home as well as each other so passionately ?. To my knowledge, I have not noticed any other ethnic group that takes sundry sides so intensely as do the Jews.
    The Bible was correct. G-d made the Israelites wander the desert for 40 years before allowing them entry into the Promised Land. This was done so as to cleanse them from the burden of the Slavery they endured under the Egyptians…And have a fresh generation enter int the new land
    It has been seventy years since the Holocaust, where 6.000.000 Jewish souls were inhumanely and brutally destroyed. Nevertheless we still hear unhappy grumblings of all sorts from some of the descendants of this horrible event. It would be nice if the Jewish people could remember who did what to whom. And that history could repeat itself if they are not careful..
    Will they ever learn?

  6. I’ve been a “Liberal” American Jew all my life and lately I have found myself really becoming offended by the increasingly nasty anti-semtic and anti-Israel tone of many of my fellow Liberal/progressives. It’s really started to alienate me from them.

  7. The Times is what it is, and if it is going to change at all it’s going to get worse. Get used to it or ignore it, the latter being preferable – and the wise choice Bibi opted for last week.

    And BTW, the Times is no longer “Jewish-owned.” The Sulzberger who runs it is a Christian.

  8. Re: The New York Times Hates Israel

    Mr. Leibler, as well as commenter, Martin Lackner, have called a spade a spade rather than a “perfumed shovel”. No thinking person with even a modicum of intelligence and common sense has any problem seeing the NY Times and all its lackey “reporters” for what they are. Indeed the latter only rate the term “reporters” to the extent that they continually and dutifully report the point of view/s they know the owners of the NY Times, who pay their salary, expect them to report.

    Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer recently wrote a letter to ‘New York Times’ explaining why Israel’s PM “respectfully declined” to write op-ed piece for the NY Times.
    Bravo and bravo encore to Ron Dermer for telling the NY Times to essentially “stuff it”.

    As both Mr. Isi Leibler and Mr. Ron Dermer are too much of gentlemen to say to the NY Times directly what we all know to be the real truth about the NY Times, and their hypocritical Masthead slogan promising “All the News that’s Fit to Print”- allow me to say it for them.

    The NY Times tried its best to remain silent when “our people” were burning and going up the chimneys.
    Most of the time, until it became too well known worldwide, to play deaf and dumb and bury news of the murder of millions in the back pages or delete and/or suppress such news entirely, the NY Times went out of its way to keep reporting of the true dimensions of the Holocaust a secret.
    This has all been documented as far as NY Times reporters being made more than painfully aware during WW II of what they were allowed to report and more important- not to report, relative to what was happening to Europe’s Jews at least if you hoped to keep your job.
    To this day one of the despicable reasons given is that the Jewish owners of the NY Times did not want to ruffle feathers, “make waves” and/or have Americans believe its Son’s were dying for the cause of rescuing the Nazi’s Jewish victims.
    May the government leaders of the State of Israel never cooperate with the Editors of the NT Times till Hell freezes over or at the least till the day arrives that the NY Times can definitely report that all the Arab nations of the Middle East have signed legal Treaties affirming Israel’s right to exist.
    The reader may decide which event will come to pass first.

    We should all thank people like Isi Leibler, Ron Dermer, Martin Lackner, et al, for taking the time to attempt to set the NY Times straight on the reason no person of decency or integrity should ever take the NY Times seriously.

    It would perhaps require a psychiatrist with the genius of Freud or Jung to successfully probe the inner subconscious workings of minds such as Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen, Nicolas Kristof, Gideon Levy, etc
    to unearth what drives such sad specimens of humanity to perpetually remain obsessed with denigrating the relatively tiny State of Israel which will doubtless remain the only Democratic nation in the Middle East for decades to come.
    Only human beings who are clinically ill or rabid closet anti-semites could possibly intentionally ignore the actual, well documented facts and history of the Middle East and pretend not to be familiar with the non stop rantings of both past, as well as present day, Arab leaders who never cease to refrain from openly calling for the physical destruction of Israel.
    For the above referenced “journalists” to pretend that said Arab leaders are “just playing to their audience” and really have no real wish to see the State of Israel disappear from the world (as it has always been “disappeared” from the maps in Arab children’s schoolbooks, is too moronic, pathetic and insulting to merit further comment.

    David Pakter

  9. Thomas Friedman is in indeed Obama´s ventriloquist. puppet.

  10. Friedman is as toxic to Jews as Buchanan, even more so because he emerged from a Jewish birth canal. . btw, Didn’t Friedman’s buddy Giseon Levy say the “Israel needs to be raped”?

  11. Kapos like Friedman, Cohen, MJ Rosenberg and their ilk at CAP and MM should be shunned and ostracized by the Jewish community. Their arrogance and contempt for their fellow Jews ranks alongside Goldstone, the so-called eminent Jewish jurist whose sterling reputation was made by hanging poor blacks in South Africa. Spit on them in the street because that’s what they deserve. We’re well past reasonable discourse with these self important racial traitors. I grew up fighting Jew hatred in Boston and there’s nothing like a good punch in the mouth to help sort it out.

  12. Love you Isi!, you nailed it.
    The good news is that Aipac policy conference in March in D.C. Will be the largest ever! The pro-Israel community is growing so large we are outgrowing the D.C. Convention center.
    Friedman and his cronies are all about themselves just like JStreet. Looking for attention.
    pathetic……and SO ignorant.

  13. Thomas Friedman is a pompous idiot. It is not a name calling, I am going to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many other people that I strongly disagree with, but I have no proof that they are idiots.
    In his book “From Beirut to Jerusalem” Friedman wrote how he visited Sabra and Shatila three days after the fighting. He wrote than he found there horses with blown bellies. He wrote that Falangists were so vicious that they cut horse bellies with AK-47 fire.
    First, imagine how you can cut through a thick horse hide. You have to stand very close and evenly shoot your bullets in a straight line. You have to take all S that flies back into your face and one magazine can make 30 cm cut at most.
    Of course, people who had seen wars and dead horses, and even people who had only read books about wars know that if you leave dead horse in warm weather, her belly blows up.
    Friedman and his editors did not know anything. Gullible idiot Friedman just repeated all the long tales that Palestinians told him and then started crusade against Israel.
    So, he believes himself to be an expert on every subject and stupid and ignorant liberals admire him.

  14. it is nice to see that people and newsmen like isi liebler are showing the public what the new york times is doing, along with friedman, cohn and kristoff. as of today i have stopped buying the times because i can’t stomach its ego centric anti jewish positions, something akin to goldstones lying report

  15. In my opinion, what must be done is to launch a vigorous well funded ad campaign to educate the West on the activities of Iran, Syria and especially Hezbollah. This axis of evil, over the past three decades constitutes a veritable menace to world order. This would quiet the vociferous Friedman and others of his ilk. I would start by paying for full page ads in the leading newspapers of the world, listing the names of the US Service personnel who were murdered in Beirut Lebanon and in Doha by the hands of the Iranian proxy Hezbollah. I would then educate the West as to Iran’s involvement in the killing of US military personnel in Southern Iraq, and in Afghanistan by IEDs manufactured in Iran. People will then see that this is not a simply a problem for Israel.

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