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Couldn’t there be just one ‘NYT’ columnist who was critical of Israel? (No)

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For the second time in ten days, Roger Cohen has a column today quoting Israeli novelist Amos Oz on the urgency of getting a two-state solution because a one-state outcome will be a nightmare. On December 22, Oz warned that Israel is becoming an “isolated ghetto.” This time he warns of a disaster if the two-state solution is not achieved.

“I don’t see an alternative. Or rather, the alternative is a disaster for Israelis. The alternative is the end of Israel.”

Cohen announced a year or so back that he is a liberal Zionist at core (good for him for his transparency), and he is hard at work to demolish Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future. He has said that Labor’s Isaac Herzog is surging in the polls. In this column Oz calls Netanyahu

“a coward, a man who prefers inaction to action.”

“He has been in power for some nine years,” Oz said. “In those nine years he has not made one, even one, really controversial decision either way.”

But on the Likud side of the Times yesterday, David Brooks wrote a column offering a brief for Netanyahu as a Churchillian leader. “Netanyahu is surpassingly brilliant,” and his caution can be defended:

If you think, as I do, that Israel has to wait out the current spasm of Islamist radicalism, then this caution has its uses.

It was Brooks’s 18th or 19th trip to the country; he has said that he is “gooey-eyed” about Israel.

I wonder: Is there any columnist at the Times who doesn’t advocate for Israel?

Tom Friedman has of course long been a supporter of Israel. He spent summers as a teenager working on a kibbutz and would later confess his embarrassment that high school was “one big celebration of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War.” But he has continued to celebrate the country to this day; and his support for the disastrous Iraq war was premised in part on the fact that Saddam supported suicide bombers in Israel.

A few weeks ago Joe Nocera stood up for Marty Peretz’s New Republic, noting Peretz bought the magazine “because it gave him a megaphone on issues he cared about, like Israel.” But Nocera took care to say nothing more about Zionism in that column. He’s savvy enough to avoid this issue.

So is Paul Krugman. When Peter Beinart’s Zionist book came out three years ago, the Nobel Laureate declared himself a liberal Zionist, but said that he avoids the issue at all costs, because he doesn’t want the heat.

I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide — and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.

Nicholas Kristof has tried to say the right thing about the two-state solution. But as Jerry Slater pointed out last summer, he cannot fault the Israeli government for its unending settlement policy and insists on characterizing the conflict as a cycle of violence.

So back to my point. There’s a burgeoning grass-roots movement in our country that’s critical of Israel. Young Democrats and women and Hispanics are especially critical of Israel. The Democratic Party base. Increasingly Americans are asking, why not one democratic state. Why don’t the Times columnists offer any support for this camp? Four years ago Andrew Sullivan asked why there are no anti-Zionists in the mainstream media. The question is more relevant than ever. The New York Times is echoing the Jewish establishment on the conflict, and thereby reflecting a rightwing discourse on a central question of our time.

My advice: They should hire a leading Palestinian columnist tomorrow, Noura Erakat or Ali Abunimah or Yousef Munayyer, and begin to sound an alternative view of the conflict.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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41 Responses

  1. eGuard on January 3, 2015, 12:17 pm

    Bravo Mondoweiss. Well noted that all “liberal” and “save Israel” and “Netanyahu is good/bad for Israel” talks is in the same basket of Zionism. It is futile to discuss who should best continue the occupation and the killings.

  2. a blah chick on January 3, 2015, 12:32 pm

    ‘My advice: They should hire a leading Palestinian columnist tomorrow, Noura Erakat or Ali Abunimah or Yousef Munayyer, and begin to sound an alternative view of the conflict.”

    But if they did that then it would make the Palestinian perspective acceptable in at least one member of the mainstream media. Better to keep their opinions in the “guest” columnists area, that way you can present them as a freak show.

    • Krauss on January 3, 2015, 3:59 pm

      Munayyer has been given a platform both in the NYT and the New Yorker but there’s an anxiousness to it, which you alluded to. He isn’t really mincing his words and telling the audience straight about Israeli Apartheid.

      I think they wanted what you describe first – a “freak show” – but probably understood that Munayyer can’t really be portrayed as a freak but rather as a truthteller, and thus the engagements started to dwindle.

      The preferred method is the “shoot-and-cry” Zionist which we’ve seen countless examples of.
      The religious right will just keep winning. It’s soon 15 years ago since the left had any real power. And even then, Barak went around to settlers bragging about Labor’s massive settlement increases(and rightly so, because they were huge compared to what Likud did).

      Circus Liberalus Zionistus will keep spinning even after the election. Nothing will really move these people until they are forced to move.

      • seanmcbride on January 3, 2015, 7:47 pm

        Krauss,

        You wrote:

        “The religious right will just keep winning. It’s soon 15 years ago since the left had any real power. And even then, Barak went around to settlers bragging about Labor’s massive settlement increases(and rightly so, because they were huge compared to what Likud did).”

        “Circus Liberalus Zionistus will keep spinning even after the election. Nothing will really move these people until they are forced to move.”

        The religious right just keeps winning not only in Israel, but in the United States as well — witness the recent election results in which Republicans (largely dominated by Christian Zionists) acquired control over the Congress. And the religious right in both Israel and the United States are closely coordinating their activities — in reality, they consitute a single integrated political machine.

        Liberal Zionists in the Democratic Party aren’t so much spinning their wheels on these trends as complicity cooperating with and enabling them. As many observers have noted, Haim Saban-controlled Hillary Clinton is a hardcore neocon.

        As for progressive anti-Zionists: they don’t have a single politician representing them in a position of meaningful influence in the American political system — they continue to be marginalized on the far fringe.

        Added note: this religious right political machine extends beyond Israel and the United States and enjoys considerable support in Canada, Britain, France, Australia, Egypt and India.

        See: “Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future, 2014 | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com” http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/01/01/top-10-non-jews-positively-influencing-the-jewish-future-2014/

        I fully expect this issue to heat up, especially as we enter the 2016 election season here in the US — and no doubt Mondoweiss will be covering the unfolding story.

      • OyVey00 on January 4, 2015, 12:31 am

        Sean,

        the GOP success in the recent elections wasn’t due to the Christian right, but due to Obama’s ridiculous handling of the Ferguson case and his executive amnesty for illegals.

        Also, who gets elected doesn’t really matter anyway. Both the GOP and Democrats are zionist to the core. The establishment would never allow an anti-zionist presidential candidate.

  3. ckg on January 3, 2015, 1:35 pm

    Most just don’t understand. NYT columnists must certainly be among the highest-salary journalists. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

  4. John Douglas on January 3, 2015, 1:45 pm

    Some good suggestions from Philip. I’m thinking of another. Yes it’s a guy, but he’s an experienced journalist, evenhanded, never strident, keen analyst, cosmopolitan, writes with a moral compass, the furthest thing from a blowhard or a dissembler, fearless in bucking expectations and a terrific stylist. Philip?

  5. joemowrey on January 3, 2015, 2:15 pm

    My advice: Quit reading the NYT. Quit quoting the NYT. Quit referring to the NYT as anything but a blatant tool of corporate and Zionist propaganda. Anything short of this only legitimizes that disgusting rag which is not fit to line my garbage can.

    There are so many other sources of information available to us. Why do we persist in engaging with the Times? I’m mystified.

    • Krauss on January 3, 2015, 3:56 pm

      Because, despite your diatribe, they have excellent journalism in a lot of fields. If you disagree, then you’re not really well-read. Take their coverage of genetics, which is mostly excellent for a mainstream publication. There are many other examples. On issues like Zionism, which are inherently political, everyone has a bias. The Times’ competitors are no different.

      • joemowrey on January 4, 2015, 10:01 am

        The point being, there are lots of places we can get good coverage of genetics, and other such issues, without supporting a publication which lies us into wars and blatantly supports a racist, apartheid regime such as exists in Israel. I think we can agree that the Times attitude and perspective on Zionism goes far beyond the notion that “everyone has a bias.” Sure, everyone has a bias, including me. But I don’t fabricate stories that foment racial hatred to promote my bias.

        And please, I respect your comments here at MW, Krauss. So I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t resort to personal attacks on me. You have no idea how “well-read” I am. In fact, I am quit well-read and well informed. Thank you.

      • seanmcbride on January 4, 2015, 11:30 am

        Krauss,

        The journalism of the New York Times is excellent in quite a few non-political domains, but with the rise of the Internet it is possible, with just a few clicks or keystrokes, to discover superior sources on the non-political topics that it covers — especially in technology, science, economics, sports, etc. That is why I wonder whether pre-Internet newspapers like the New York Times have any chance to survive financially — I strongly doubt it. I’ve been predicting the collapse of the paper for well over a decade — as early as the latter nineties, as I recall.

        One has also come to realize that many New York Times commenters are better educated, better informed and smarter than their paid journalists. Who in the world would pay a penny to read the columnists on their op-ed page?

      • John Douglas on January 4, 2015, 6:01 pm

        RE Kraus: “On issues like Zionism, which are inherently political, everyone has a bias. The Times’ competitors are no different.”

        No, I do not accept this. Because an issue is political, it does not follow that all we have are biases. This is a harmful and dangerous idea. Stating that it is immoral and illegal to slaughter 500 children and then blame it upon their defenders is not a statement of bias. It is a statement of fact that is easily substantiate by good reasons. The positions of the Times and it’s op. ed. columnists concerning Israel’s actions are deceitful, shameful and unprofessional.

        And yes, the NY Times puts out some good journalism.

    • ivri on January 3, 2015, 5:46 pm

      Yes, this is part of the “let`s boycott them all” – namely all those that don`t think like I do. I suppose it`s a pleasure to read only those that are your replicas but isn`t there a price that comes with that? Also since of all us have different preferences it is clear what would happen to this world if such an attitude becomes common.

      • joemowrey on January 4, 2015, 1:44 pm

        Again, to reiterate, my objection to the NYT is not because they don’t “think like I do.” It is because they actually print lies that promote war and racism. Your snarky remark suggesting that I only read those that are my “replicas” is uncalled for. You have no idea what I read. Please leave the personal attacks behind.

        And what is clear to me is that if an attitude which refuses to legitimize lies and blatantly destructive propaganda were to become common, the world would be a better place. We can still support alternate points of view and alternative levels of bias. But we should insist on at least a basic level of truth in journalism. And we should certainly shun publications who lie us into wars. The Times, like any newspaper, is entitled to its own opinion and perspective. But they aren’t entitled to their own set of facts.

    • Bandolero on January 3, 2015, 10:32 pm

      Quit referring to the NYT as anything but a blatant tool of corporate and Zionist propaganda.

      I usually refer to the NYTimes as a zionist propaganda rag well-known for routinosly spreading blatant lies like the Judy Miller fairytales to start illegal wars in the assumed service of Israeli interests.

      As blatant zionist propaganda lies in the NYT can be identified as such in almost every major foreign policy issue it covers, from Palestine over Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and so forth up to glorifying Ukraine’s Nazi-putsch regime, I think such terminology like propaganda is quite approproiate. What’s inappropriate is to refer to the stuff peddled in the NYT as journalism, or worse and more misleading, as journalism with good reputation.

    • chris o on January 4, 2015, 1:53 am

      I can go buy the Times on any given day and be assured of some quality reading. Some days, the depth and breadth is quite impressive. Try it some time.

      • seanmcbride on January 4, 2015, 12:55 pm

        chris o,

        I used to read four or five physical newspapers a day (including the New York Times), but I haven’t purchased or touched a physical newspaper for at least 15 years — nor has anyone in my circle of acquaintances.

        Most of them get their news from the following apps:

        1. Feedly
        2. Flipboard
        3. News360
        4. Prismatic
        5. Smartnews
        6. Zite

        They are light-years ahead of traditional news publications. Most of them are AI-based. The New York Times is moving at a slow crawl.

      • Mooser on January 5, 2015, 10:20 am

        “Most of them are AI-based. “

        “AI” stands for “artificial intelligence” doesn’t it? Perfect. Yup, Sean, there’s no doubt; you think just like a computer!

  6. ivri on January 3, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Well, upon reading this one would be surprised to find out that the NYT is considered in Israel as unfriendly – it has published numerous articles in its opinion section that were strongly critical of Israel. Prominent among them are those that came from Europeans – where there is strong anti-Israel inclinations. But even what Roger Cohen used to write in the past was not considered sympathetic to Israel but rather to the Palestinian cause. Apparently for some people being “inadequately” critical of Israel and not use strong-worded slandering, as common to many on this site, is enough to be seen as “soft” on it.
    That only goes to show how polarizing the subject has become – some are committed to the Israeli cause wholeheartedly –ready to do anything for it – while for others not demonizing it without any qualifications amounts to being “pro Zionist”.

    • on January 4, 2015, 8:07 am

      Of course Israel and her supporters cannot see the NY Times for what it is — a pro Israel propaganda rag. What does the opinion of racist dupes have to do with reality?

    • Marnie on January 4, 2015, 2:31 pm

      Gee what a shock, Israeli’s find the NYT unfriendly. Huh. Will wonders never cease. Thanks so much for the update on the Israeli view of the rest of the world.

  7. surewin on January 3, 2015, 2:57 pm

    “It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide — and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.” – Krugman

    I boycott the New York Times but I often read about how bad (as in, evil) Krugman is as an economist on other websites. The quote above is worded mildly, but I’d say it’s pretty accurate.

    In general, the Times is crashing as a business, its owners can’t really sort out Israel/Palestine in their own minds, and even if they could, the paper’s line would still be the same, because their core constituency is their readers in the New York metropolitan area. The Times puts out mixed messages on Israel, few of which are very close to the truth. It has to do that in order to forestall the eventual failure of the company. Unfortunately the paper won’t go away, but it will be acquired by an entity or company that will be willing to operate it at a loss.

    • Krauss on January 3, 2015, 3:54 pm

      Krugman is brilliant, and he isn’t afraid to tout it. He isn’t bloated with self-importance but he completely disregards the formality of not saying “I told you so” and loves pointing out the idiocy of conservative economists, and they hate him for that.

      The problem is that he keeps being right and they keep being wrong. There are many examples(the efficiency of the stimulus, interest rates, inflation, or lack thereof, etc).

      As for the Times’, they’re not really “crashing”. You’re misinformed. They are on a profit and their subscribers are growing.

      • surewin on January 3, 2015, 9:09 pm

        Krauss, thanks for the update. My impression was based on the Carlos Slim bailout, the huge loss on the Boston Globe investment, and the fate of so many other newspapers (e.g., Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post). They aren’t crashing at the moment, but the long-term stock chart looks bad.

    • chris o on January 4, 2015, 1:50 am

      It’s great that you boycott the NY Times because they are the problem. Yes, of course the best newspaper in the country is the problem. We should get our news at Gawker and Yahoo News.

      • Mooser on January 4, 2015, 2:55 pm

        Yup, remember how the best newspaper in the country got right to the bottom of the whole 9-11 thing, why the building imploded, and then of course, the lead-up to the War on Iraq. Yup, they really showed their stuff.

  8. Krauss on January 3, 2015, 3:50 pm

    Media ownership matters. Don’t care if Sulzberg is a nominal Christian, he’s still brought up in a liberal Zionist household and that hasn’t really washed off.

    I think a lot of gentiles basically think like Krugman: I have other fights to fight. Many of them are intermarried with Jews anyway, there are really countless couples. Just take the CEO of the Times’, a British Christian with a Jewish wife. Sure, the CEO looks on the more business side of things but you have many other elite gentiles with Jewish spouses.

    And even for those who don’t, they often work with Jewish editors, publishers and journalists and the vast majority of them are Zionists.

    How many Palestinians are there in the elite media? It’s really a social thing, to a large extent, who are you working – or for that matter, sleeping – with? And who is outside of that realm?

    • Mooser on January 5, 2015, 10:23 am

      Krauss, didn’t Sulzberg hire an editor, name of Rosenthal (?) maybe “Abe Rosenthal (?)” who, as Sulzberg aged into agedness, turned the NYT is a hard-right Zionist direction?
      Did Rosenthal do two stints as editor?

      Anyway, some of this stuff happened before I was born, so it’s hard to remember.

  9. Blownaway on January 3, 2015, 4:01 pm

    gee can a newspaper in a part of the country with major wealthy influential Jewish community employing primarily Jewish columnists be critical of Israel? Kinda answers itself

  10. italian ex-pat on January 3, 2015, 5:56 pm

    I am a subscriber to the NYT online, and I find the monthly charge worth every penny. I agree that the paper’s position regarding the I/P issue is one-sided, big time. Could be because its correspondents and columnists are for the most part Jewish. But it is a joy to read the readers’ comments, and you can be sure that the most recommended are critical of Israel. Of course there are always the Israel-firsters with their ridiculous arguments, I know by now who they are and whenever I see a certain name at the top of a post, I already know what it’s going to say. But where else do you get a change to shoot them down?

  11. chris o on January 4, 2015, 1:48 am

    As usual, Krugman is on point. OK, so he washes his hands of it and says, “Yes, I don’t like what Israel is doing but I don’t really care.” That’s fair enough, no? Should he be faulted for not writing columns on the Congo? Don’t get me wrong, I wish he would focus his withering analysis on Israel, but I understand his position.

    • on January 4, 2015, 1:19 pm

      Right. Gutlessness being such an admirable quality

      • Mooser on January 5, 2015, 4:36 pm

        “Right. Gutlessness being such an admirable quality”

        Okay, do you think the Zionists come looking for Krugman, or are waiting for Krugman to come and beg them to let him help? I tend to think that Krugman is (or has been) under constant importuning about what he owes or is obligated to do for the Zionist movement, and refuses them.

  12. talknic on January 4, 2015, 6:08 am

    @ ivri ” I suppose it`s a pleasure to read only those that are your replicas but isn`t there a price that comes with that? “

    Like Israel didn’t declare any borders?

    Yes, the price is showing yourself to be a propagandist and blatant liar.

    • Mooser on January 4, 2015, 2:59 pm

      That’s right “talknic”! If we are going to talk about a place, a country, we need to know where it is. If they can’t tell the first goddam thing about Israel, where it is, there’s really not much to talk about, they are talking about an imaginary place, a Shangri-La.

  13. pabelmont on January 4, 2015, 11:19 am

    The late Anthony Lewis (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/us/anthony-lewis-pulitzer-prize-winning-columnist-dies-at-85.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) wrote a a lovely column in NYT that was a bit critical of Israel, but that was (my recall is lousy) in the 1980s. “Though wide-ranging in his interests, he often focused on legal questions, advocacy of compromise between Israel and the Palestinians, and criticism of the war in Vietnam and the apartheid regime in South Africa. On December 15, 2001, his final column warned that civil liberties were at risk in the U.S. reaction to the September 11 attacks.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Lewis).

    I used to clip news stories in NYT, Boston Globe, and Christian Science Monitor on I/P in 1980s and in those years the NYT (and the other papers) had much fuller or more honest coverage than it does now, though quite defensive of Israel. I wonder when the almost complete clamp-down started?

    There is a wonderful new book, a love story and memoir, “Timeless” (http://www.amazon.com/Timeless-Love-Morgenthau-Lucinda-Franks/dp/0374280800) by Lucinda Franks, which is a bit spoiled for me by the gushing pro-Israelism on the parts of Franks and her husband Manhattan DA Robert Moranthau, it recites. Still a good read. Takes a nip at Tony Lewis, btw, which is why I remembered him for this comment.

  14. ramzijaber on January 4, 2015, 1:34 pm

    nyt is considered the bastion of liberalism and civil rights among all press organizations. of course, that is everywhere except Palestine. nyt is more zionist than the zionists in the zionist entity itself. lol.

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