‘NYT’ public editor faults paper for failing to quote Jews who support BDS

US Politics

In recent days we have made a lot of the fact that the New York Times ran a front-page article equating the campus Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel with anti-Semitism. The piece completely left out the fact that many Jewish students support BDS (about one in five of activists Weiss has seen in his travels).

Well, Margaret Sullivan, the Times public editor, agrees. In a piece titled, “A Jewish Litmus Test Was Unacceptable,” she hammers on the fact that David McCleary, a University of California PhD candidate who is Jewish and supports BDS, was subjected to the third degree by a Times stringer because his name doesn’t sound Jewish and that neither he nor any

other Jewish student who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was quoted or represented in the story.

Sullivan quotes David Nasaw, a professor at CUNY and biographer of Joseph Kennedy, complaining about the framing of the piece:

I am distressed about the lack of evidence in the piece to support the authors’ assertions about this deeply sensitive and volatile issue. Divestment is supported by a large group of individuals — some of them members of minority groups, and some Jews. (I, incidentally, do not support the movement). To make this into a “Minority vs. Jewish” question, without supplying evidence, is to distort the issue.

And Sullivan concludes by undermining that framing herself:

the article certainly would have benefited from quoting one or more Jewish students who support B.D.S. (The story does nod in that direction twice – including in a mention of Jewish Voice for Peace at Columbia University.)

Throwing a Times stringer under the bus for her questions is a bit like blaming the New England Patriots’ ball boy for the Deflategate scandal. The real issue, as Sullivan suggests, is that the Times editors (the Brady’s and Belichick’s of the scheme) set out to smear BDS by supplying that stringer with a list of questions that included this gem:

“to what extent is BDS used as a fig leaf for anti-Semitism?”

This is a victory in the struggle for accountability. The New York Times was compelled to acknowledge its bias. The newspaper’s role as a weapon for Israel’s p.r. efforts in the U.S. has been blunted by Sullivan’s excellent analysis. We bet there are many other Times staffers who are chagrined by the paper’s role.

P.S. David McCleary felt that the Times questions, including asking whether he was bar mitzvah’d or looked Jewish, were “insulting and demeaning.” When is the Anti-Defamation League going to call out the Times for actions that Sullivan calls “unacceptable and unprofessional?” About never. Because the Times was doing so in service of Israel, and the ADL is a Zionist organization.

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30 Responses

  1. just
    May 15, 2015, 5:50 pm

    As I said this morning:

    “Excuses, excuses, excuses! Still very focused on Jewish- only voices. No mention of the rest of it, including their exclusion of SJP, Palestinian voices, or the other “minorities” that they refer to.” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/interested-balanced-coverage#comment-768197

    • just
      May 15, 2015, 8:11 pm

      Seems that McCleary is of a similar mind:

      …”‘What about the others?

      McCleary also expresses dismay that Sullivan “doesn’t address complaints that the piece and indeed the title itself is a blatant example of race-baiting, other than to have the editor responsible for the piece claim that it actually isn’t divisive.”

      He also finds it ironic that his “personal concerns” with the story were addressed while no attention was given to the specific complaints by other SJP members – especially Palestinians.

      For McCleary, this is yet another example of the Times’ “bias toward addressing the concerns of Jewish students while ignoring those of other students.”

      Omar Zahzah, Agatha Palma and Rahim Kurwa, members of SJP at UCLA, published a detailed critique headlined “Why Readers Interested in a Balanced Coverage of Student BDS Initiatives Should Avoid the New York Times.”

      Despite his criticisms, McCleary hopes that Sullivan’s intervention represents “a positive step toward more balanced coverage of BDS and Palestine solidarity,” but acknowledges “we still have a long way to go.””

      http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/ny-times-public-editor-criticizes-reporters-unacceptable-questions-palestine

    • Blownaway
      May 16, 2015, 9:54 am

      That the Times is an Israeli organ of propaganda is even recognized in Israel be Haaretz …see the following headline

      Israel’s secret weapon in the war against Hezbollah: The New York Times
      Israel is turning to the media and diplomacy to head off an almost inevitable new round of confrontation with Hezbollah. Its message: Israel won’t be able to avoid attacks on Lebanon’s civilians so long as the Shi’ite militias use them as human shields.
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.656516#

  2. JWalters
    May 15, 2015, 6:38 pm

    Movement toward enforcing the common sense rules of discussion, providing facts and reasoning from the facts, is a gain for humanity as a whole. However, it is a problem for lying bullies.

    The Times editors should also ask, “To what extent is the anti-Semitism charge a fig leaf for crimes?” The answer – to a huge extent.

    Thank you Margaret Sullivan. And thanks to Mondoweiss for highlighting this story.

  3. Scott
    May 15, 2015, 6:48 pm

    I applaud you concentration on the Times, which plays a critical role in presenting this issue for many people. As Ms. Sullivan’s presence indicates, it’s a mixed bag. Also: today’s edit basically supporting the Pope’s recognition of Palestine.

    • Krauss
      May 16, 2015, 3:05 am

      For me, even if they left out the Jewish support, fundamentally, the problem remains that Jewish support for BDS remains a litmus test in of itself.

      Despite the headline, the public editor basically accepts that litmus test. Even if there was virtually zero Jewish support, any discussion on BDS should not be hinged on how many Jews support or not support because the implicit message is that morality doesn’t matter as much as a kosher stamp of approval. And that is a deeply disturbing message to send.

      BDS, as any other program of principles, should be judged on its own merits, regardless of the support it has in any specific community.

  4. pabelmont
    May 15, 2015, 8:02 pm

    ADL is a Zionist organization — and therefore not a Jewish organization (even if it is an organization chiefly or entirely peopled by people who, like me, label themselves “Jews”, it is religious and that religion has little to do with old-fashioned Judaism).

    Do Jews, by any chance, tell the story about the Golden Calf, perhaps each year as part o the Passover seder?

    • Les
      May 15, 2015, 8:09 pm

      This sounds a lot like those politicians who call themselves “Christian” who are particularly zealous about cracking down in a thousand ways against poor people.

  5. Les
    May 15, 2015, 8:04 pm

    This is welcome news. Palestinians get more mention in our media than Jews who support BDS. Other than Fox we are talking, for the most part, about Jewish owned media. Hmmmmmm.

  6. Philip Munger
    May 16, 2015, 3:50 am

    On November 1, 2005, there were three demonstrations outside the Hackney Empire Theatre in London, where a performance of my remembrance of Rachel Corrie, The Skies Are Weeping, was about to be performed. All three were Jewish-led.

    However, two of the demonstrations were in favor of the music and its premise. Only one, perhaps the smallest, was protesting my art, and Rachel Corrie as an icon. I spoke to some of them over a barricade, offering free tickets to anyone who might consider attending.

    The BBC ran a TV story on the demonstrations, making it appear there had been a solid Jewish front against my art. Several Jews individually, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, protested the story’s premise to the BBC. Eventually, they got written apologies.

    This was a pretty rapid response by the NYT.

  7. Rodneywatts
    May 16, 2015, 7:44 am

    More encouraging reporting by James and Phil- thank you! Thank you also James for your piece on the imaginary Rudoren. Just’s and Italian ex-pat’s comments yesterday drew attention to the article partly authored by Rudoren about Pope Francis/Vatican’s recognition of Palestine and the letter to EU’s Mogherini:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/14/world/middleeast/vatican-to-recognize-palestinian-state-in-new-treaty.html?_r=0
    http://static.guim.co.uk/ni/1431517700142/EEPG-letter.pdf

    Whilst there were the usual pro Israel points in the nyt article, e.g. quoting wingeing David Horovitz
    “Even this philo-Semitic pope, this pope who cares about the Jews, even he doesn’t get it,” said David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel news site. “Every time something like this happens, there’s this sense of anguish. Why don’t you understand? We want to separate from the Palestinians, but on terms that don’t threaten our security.”
    there was a clear indication of the separation of US and EU policies as envisaged in the powerful and unambiguous letter:

    “The letter further urged reconsideration of European relations with both Israelis and Palestinians, arguing that Mr. Netanyahu “has little intention of negotiating seriously for a two-state solution” and expressing “low confidence that the U.S. government will be in a position to take a lead on fresh negotiations.”

    So it appears Rudoren is facing the reality of European action and the zionist position along with the decreasing influence of the monkeys/donkeys in Congress in world affairs. However I would have described the letter as expressing virtually NO not low confidence in the US. Anyway the NYT does appear to be moving towards more balanced reporting.

    Thank you also Philip Munger for your comment re your 2005 experience in London and reminding us both of your own work and that wonderful lady Rachel Corrie.

    • just
      May 16, 2015, 11:24 am

      About Pope Francis, and a great big shout- out for and to Palestinians everywhere:

      “Pope Francis: Abbas is an ‘angel of peace’

      Meeting with Palestinian leader comes days after Vatican finalized treaty with the ‘state of Palestine’, explicitly recognizing Palestinian statehood

      AP – Pope Francis praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting Saturday at the Vatican that underscored the Holy See’s warm relations with the Palestinians.

      Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts at the end of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace. He presented Abbas with a medallion and explained that it represented the “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.”

      Francis said he thought the gift was appropriate since “you are an angel of peace.” During his 2014 visit to Israel and the West Bank, Francis called both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres men of peace.

      Abbas is in Rome for the canonization Sunday of two 19th-century nuns from what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. The new saints, Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, are the first from the region to be canonized since the early days of Christianity.

      Abbas on Saturday offered Francis relics of the two new saints.”…

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.656737?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

      Some folks all around the world are experiencing Ziopoplexy from his pronouncements!

      In memory of the great BB King:

      • just
        May 16, 2015, 12:54 pm

        …”The news of the treaty drew a critical response from Israel.

        “Israel heard with disappointment the decision of the Holy See to agree a final formulation of an agreement with the Palestinians, including the use of the term ‘Palestinian state’,” said an Israeli foreign ministry official.

        “Such a development does not further the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct bilateral negotiations. Israel will study the agreement and consider its next step.””…

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/16/pope-welcomes-mahmoud-abbas-ahead-of-treaty-with-palestine

        “Study” it all you want, Israel! It’s done.

      • Rodneywatts
        May 16, 2015, 2:13 pm

        Hey Just, I really appreciate your comments and links, and the word Ziopoplexy is a hoot! Your embedding of the great BB King clip , as well as being so pertinent to your comment and link, is special to me. It has brought back memories of happy student days when I and a Jewish friend used to team up to perform numbers like The Saints, Joshua Fought the Battle of Jerico and Erev Shel Shoshanim. Those were still the days when there was real hope for I/P. How things were to change!

        WRT your Haaretz link I see that along with some other EU nations the Vatican is still talking of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians to obtain a 2 state solution. At the moment that is surely dead in the water, as the guardian link also indicates. Certainly the letter to Mogherini, by the eminent Europeans has got much more reality about putting pressure on Israel. However as a certain British supermarket says ‘ every little helps’

      • just
        May 17, 2015, 8:43 pm

        You’re very kind, Rodneywatts. ;-)

        Every little bit does help! I loved BB well, but that’s another story. RIP.

  8. JimMichie
    May 16, 2015, 9:15 am

    BRAVOS and KUDOS to Mondoweiss and a “shaking-of-the-head” and a “why-has-it-taken-you-so-long” to the Times “public editor”, Margaret Sullivan, who apparently could no longer endure the humiliation and rank embarrassment heaped upon her by her own newspaper and its galactic bias in favor of Zionist Israel. Oh yes, New York Times, your shielding and defense of indefensible racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing Zionist Israel is beginning to take its highly deserved toll on you!

  9. RobertHenryEller
    May 16, 2015, 11:48 am

    I posted the following comment in response to Margaret Sullivan’s piece in the NYT, because it seemed to present the best opportunity to comment on a Letter to the NYT Editors, from an employee of the Israeli Consulate in NY, to the article which provoked Ms. Sullivan’s piece:

    [Begin my comment to Ms. Sullivan’s piece]

    “It took less than a decade for the mask to fall and for cries of “Free Palestine” to give way to cries of “Jew, France is not for you” and such, which have been heard lately in the streets of European capitals.” – Shimon Mercer-Wood, Consul for Media Affairs, Consulate General of Israel, New York in a letter to NYT in re: “Views on Israel Drive a Wedge in Campus Life”
    [http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/opinion/israel-palestine-and-the-boycott-debate-on-campus.html]

    Cries of “Jew, France is not for you!” coming from BDS supporters on U.S. college campuses, Shimon?

    I’ve heard those cries. But who have I heard crying them?

    I first heard “Jew, France is not for you!” being cried by Benjamin Netanyahu, while he was still in Paris cynically attending the rallies that followed the Charlie Hebdo murders.

    I then heard “Jew, France is not for you!” being cried by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, in his April 2015 cover article, “Is It TIme For Jews To Leave Europe?”
    [http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/03/is-it-time-for-the-jews-to-leave-europe/386279/]

    I have not heard of any BDS supporters at U.S. universities crying “Jew, France is not for you!” But Shimon is a “media affairs” guy. They’re also known as propagandists. Shimon reminds me of some “media affairs guys” from the 1930s and 40s.

    [End my comment to Ms. Sullivan’s piece.]

    • Rodneywatts
      May 16, 2015, 2:29 pm

      Good comment RobertHenryEller. Hope it gets accepted.

    • Elisabeth
      May 18, 2015, 3:04 am

      Great comment.
      A little note:
      I’ve only got highschool French, and I don’t know about Sullivan’s French but I thought “Juif, la France n’est pas a toi meant”
      “Jew, France is not yours/You do not own France” and not “Jew, France is not for you/ You do not belong in France”.

      • hophmi
        May 18, 2015, 11:05 am

        It’s a terrible comment. The guy who warns French Jews that they should leave because they are in danger is not the same as the guy who attacks them and makes them feel unsafe. It’s like confusing Hitler with someone who sounds the alarm that the Holocaust is about to happen.

        Most of the French Jews who have left are Jewish immigrants from North Africa. They are the ones who have been on the receiving end of most of these attacks, and they are also the ones who are the most active Jews in France, so while the percentage of French Jews emigrating is small, it is actually quite a significant percentage of the North African Jewish population of France.

      • Froggy
        May 18, 2015, 1:53 pm

        “Jew, France is not yours/You do not own France” and not “Jew, France is not for you/ You do not belong in France”.

        You get an A in high school French, Elizabeth.

        Notice also that the demonstrators used the singular and familiar form toi rather than vous which one would use when addressing a collective.

        What keeps coming to mind is that peculiar American children’s taunt, “You’re not the boss of me!”

        No one group gets to control France.

        La Grenouille Bretonne

      • Walid
        May 19, 2015, 12:04 am

        “… the demonstrators used the singular and familiar form toi rather than vous which one would use when addressing a collective. ”

        Grenouille, the singular “juif” is the melodramatic one-on-one imperative lacking only the exclamation mark. The impersonal collective would have been “juifs”

    • Froggy
      May 18, 2015, 3:30 pm

      “I first heard “Jew, France is not for you!” being cried by Benjamin Netanyahu, while he was still in Paris cynically attending the rallies that followed the Charlie Hebdo murders.”

      And the Jews of France answered him.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Nja48mIUIA

      Excellent comment, BTW.

  10. joemowrey
    May 16, 2015, 1:19 pm

    A good propaganda outlet always throws a bone or two to the unwitting to make it appear as if they are “balanced.” That’s all these statements by Sullivan amount to. The powers that be at the NYT can now say, “See, our pubic editor is there to provide a check and balance to our coverage.”

    One doesn’t have to be too cynical to imagine Sullivan’s remarks were orchestrated and strategized at the highest levels. She would never have had the nerve, nor in the end been allowed, to voice such criticism without thorough prior review.

    • Giles
      May 17, 2015, 8:03 pm

      A good propaganda outlet always throws a bone or two to the unwitting to make it appear as if they are “balanced.” That’s all these statements by Sullivan amount to. The powers that be at the NYT can now say, “See, our pubic editor is there to provide a check and balance to our coverage.”

      One doesn’t have to be too cynical to imagine Sullivan’s remarks were orchestrated and strategized at the highest levels. She would never have had the nerve, nor in the end been allowed, to voice such criticism without thorough prior review.

      Absolutely and demonstrably true. Unless we stop seeing these ridiculous and deceitful pro Israel stories showing up in the NY Times — and this will not happen any time soon — then we know that publishing Ms. Sullivan’s comments was just another cynical ploy to protect the reputation of the Times and to thus push pro Israel propaganda

  11. Les
    May 16, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Haaretz headline

    “Israel’s secret weapon in the war against Hezbollah: The New York Times ”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.656516

  12. just
    May 16, 2015, 3:27 pm

    LTE in NYT has one from the Israeli Consul for Media Affairs in NY, USA, and one from Eric Fingerhut.

    They also published letters from BDS supporters, including JVP members…

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/opinion/israel-palestine-and-the-boycott-debate-on-campus.html?referrer=&_r=0

  13. michelle
    May 19, 2015, 1:32 am

    .
    so how does this go
    does BDS stand against all things Jewish
    or for that matter all things Israel
    or does it stand against all things unjust
    .
    it is a shame that the media has allowed itself to be enslaved
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  14. michelle
    May 19, 2015, 2:26 am

    .
    “to what extent is BDS used as a fig leaf for anti-Semitism?”
    .
    first make clear ‘your’ use of the term “anti-semitism”
    that in itself is so very often quite misleading
    .
    one must also realize that to over indulge
    is another form of abuse or anti-whateverism
    .
    bds is no fig leaf
    it is more like the olive branch
    .
    it would be so cool if the pope joined bds
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

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