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For Bari Weiss, Israel advocacy was both ideology and good career move

Media Analysis
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New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss has lately been at the center of an internet firestorm over her attacks on the left for not tolerating dissent. As Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out, Weiss has a long record of seeking to muzzle critics of Israel, going back to her campaigns against professors — several of them Arab — as an undergraduate at Columbia University in the early 2000’s. She also had a role in hounding out a Columbia dean for hosting former Iranian president Ahmadinejad.

In looking over Weiss’s back pages, I was struck by the fact that Zionist advocacy has given Weiss quite a career. She’s 33 or 34 and has had one good break after another, leading up to opinion editing at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

It’s not a surprise. The Times has provided a haven to countless Israel advocates, from Max Frankel (who made sure that editorials supported Israel back in the 70s) to William Safire channeling Ariel Sharon to Bill Kristol getting a column even after he pushed the Iraq disaster, to the phalanx of pro-Israel voices the paper has today: global editorial director Jodi Rudoren, who promoted Israel as a reporter; columnist David Brooks, who has said he gets gooey-eyed on his many visits to the Jewish state; Bret Stephens the unreconstructed neoconservative and former editor of the Jerusalem Post; Roger Cohen, liberal Zionist; and Tom Friedman, keen-Zionist-as-a-boy though he is halfway honest about apartheid today. At least four Times reporters have had children serving in the Israel Defense Forces, including Brooks.

So Bari Weiss — whose father is a stalwart at AIPAC, the Israel lobby group — really came home when she came to the Times last year.

Here are the highlights from Weiss’s resume as an advocate for the Jewish state.

Weiss is the oldest of four children from a highly-Jewish-identified family in Pittsburgh and went to Israel nine or ten times by the time she got to college. As a high school senior, she was already proselytizing American Jews to support Israel with a program called “If Not Now, When?” From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2002:

“One of the purposes of the program is to try and answer the question why a Jew in Pittsburgh should care about what a Jew in Jerusalem is going through,” said Bari Weiss, 18, a Shady Side Academy senior who has been instrumental in putting the program together. “It’s to plant a seed of Israel advocacy.”

After graduating, Weiss went to Israel on a United Synagogue Youth fellowship. (Rudoren also went to Israel as a teenager with USY.) The “Nativ” program sends young Jews to Israel for a year, to prepare them to be Israel advocates in college. Weiss soon showed up in an article from the Jewish Telegraph Agency advising Nativ to use its young alums to turn other American Jews into Israel advocates, even if they’d never been there.

“Let the kids be the trailblazers,” Weiss said. “Let them convince the parents how much their children will learn on these programs, about religion, Jewish identity and Zionism.”

Weiss went on to Columbia University; and as she took on pro-Palestinian profs, the sponsorships flowed. Her next pro-Israel fellowship was a summer gig at the Shalem Center, a rightwing Zionist thinktank in Jerusalem (since reborn as Shalem College) that was heavily underwritten by Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who called on President Obama to nuke Iran.

Naomi Zeveloff reported in the Forward on “a circle” of young pro-Israel writers subsidized by a major Israel supporter, Roger Hertog.

Shalem acquired a $100,000 grant from one of its funders, American neoconservative businessman Roger Hertog, and set up a summer training institute for future editors-in-chief… The first interns included young activists like Weiss, one of several Columbia students who accused Joseph Massad, a professor in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Civilizations department, of anti-Israel bias….

David Hazony, the Azure editor [a Shalem production], trained the interns in writing, editing and publishing. The students were introduced to the “who’s who of Israel,” in [former Shalem staffer Tanya] Strusberg’s words: writer Yossi Klein Halevi, former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, and Moshe Ya’alon, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. All served as research fellows at Shalem. At summer’s end, the interns returned to their universities to start their journals….

Shalem gave these journals $2,500 per edition, which covered half the cost of the production. The students raised additional funds themselves, sometimes reaching out to campus Jewish groups to make up the difference.

Bari Weiss emailed Zeveloff and said, Better not to name Shalem.

“From my experience, I think it’s always best to be transparent,” Weiss, who was starting The Current at the time, wrote in one e-mail. But then she contradicted herself: “Also, from now on, better not to bring up the Shalem name. Tell them its coming from Azure — from a grant given by Hertog, who also owns half of The New Republic.”

Weiss did at the Current what she does today at the Times– sells Israel as a liberal cause, chiefly to other Jews. Zeveloff:

Though decidedly Zionist in perspective, the publication did not eschew criticism of its own movement.

In The Current’s second issue, Weiss wrote that Zionism’s adherents did themselves a “huge disservice” by not touting the movement’s liberal values, such as human rights.

Jewish Week also covered the Current in 2005. Weiss, then a junior, described herself as a Jewish “activist.”

“I’m an activist at heart,” Weiss said this week, “but I think that a journal of ideas may have a longer lasting impact than protests and rallies.”

Weiss was fulfilling Hertog’s pro-Israel mission:

Hertog, board chairman of The New Republic and The New York Sun, said he became involved in the project because “universities can be lonely places for Jewish men and women, especially if they identify with Jewish or Israel interests.” He said that “while rallies and speakers are important, ideas really do matter” and that “journals can have a large impact” on the thinking of college students. Weiss agrees. She said her intense activism at Columbia last year taught her that “protests are really important sometimes” — Weiss still recalls attending the huge rally for Soviet Jewry in Washington in 1987 at the age of 3 — but that “ideas are very powerful,” and that Jewish students at Columbia are looking for something more compelling than “falafel and cool parties” to make them identify with Israel.

After graduating, Weiss went to work for Hertog at the New York Sun. Glenn Greenwald wrote up her Zionist resume in acid tones:

After she crusaded against these Middle East studies professors at Columbia, penning columns denouncing them, she was quickly hired by the standard organs for neoconservative opinion: the New York Sun, Tablet, then the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. She gushed that the Wall Street Journal op-ed age was perfect for her politics — it “can often be an island of sanity for those of us who care about Zionism and Israel” — and explained that she went to Tablet “because I wanted the chance to focus on Jewish issues.”

Along the way, Weiss got a third fellowship to Israel, says the JTA, in a story on Bari Weiss’s celebrity, at age 33, last month: 

[A]fter college [she] worked as a freelance reporter and wrote for the Israeli daily Haaretz on a Dorot fellowship, a Jewish leadership program.
Dorot is a pro-Israel foundation dedicated to “progressive social change.” It sends a dozen young people to Israel every year. During her fellowship, Bari Weiss was published by Haaretz– which she said gave her confidence as a journalist— attacking would-be Columbia prof Nadia abu El-Haj, as part of a campaign that the New York Civil Liberties Union would criticize as a witchhunt.

Wait, there might have been another fellowship in there, too: at the Wall Street Journal. From the JTA:

[Bret] Stephens… met Weiss when she was a student at Columbia and encouraged her to apply for a fellowship at the Journal

Zionist advocacy and journalism were part and parcel for Weiss. Greenwald again:

Weiss spoke on a panel at the 2012 Conference of the American Zionist Movement in which she explained (in a video on YouTube) that she “got involved in journalism through activism” — specifically, activism against Arab and Muslim professors at Columbia — and that she now devotes herself to the “connection between advocacy journalism and Zionism.”

Like daughter like father. Bari’s father is Lou Weiss. Two weeks ago, Howard Kohr, the ceo of AIPAC, did a shoutout at the lobby’s annual policy conference to Lou, a member of the AIPAC National Council. Lou and wife Amy Weiss own a home flooring company in Pittsburgh. He calls himself a “carpet salesman” and says he has “led several missions to Israel.”

Lou Weiss was active in lobbying local congressmen against the Iran deal. He once described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “the leading advocate for the Western world…. He definitely speaks for me.” That was after he and his wife sat in the gallery in Congress in 2015 for Netanyahu’s famous address. From the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle:

“It was electric,” said Weiss. “Netanyahu came in, and the Congress of the United States gave him a standing ovation. The gallery was full, and there was Netanyahu talking about the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. How can you not be moved by that?” Although Netanyahu was focused on Israel and Iran in his speech, Weiss said, “It’s not hard to extrapolate from that the whole challenge of Islamic extremism to the rest of the world. It was an historic address from a man who has become, through his moral clarity and eloquence, the leading advocate for the Western world. … And the thought that he is from Israel and Jewish is great. He definitely speaks for me.”

And here is Lou talking about Syrian immigrants— don’t let em come to Pittsburgh, because they hate Jews:

“How can Jews be so smart and yet so stupid at the same time?” said Lou Weiss of Squirrel Hill. “Everyone loves the immigration of people to our country to become Americans. But who’s in favor of bringing in immigrants from a country where they hate gays, where women are subjected to female circumcision and honor killings, and they hate Jews?”

Lately Bari Weiss tweeted about Olympic athlete Mirai Nagasu, “Immigrants, they get the job done!” Nagasu is not an immigrant. Weiss deleted the tweet in the ensuing fury– and cleaned up the line, saying she had said, “Immigrants, we get the job done.”

Philip Weiss

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

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25 Responses

  1. Steve Grover on March 15, 2018, 2:58 pm

    “In looking over Weiss’s back pages, I was struck by the fact that Zionist advocacy has given Weiss quite a career. ”
    All this proves is if you behave like a reasonable person and do the correct thing your career and when you don’t your career suffers. Bari Weiss has nothing to be ashamed of. The other Weiss, ya know the Harvard Grad, should look to Ms. Weiss as a role model.

    • John O on March 15, 2018, 4:05 pm

      Bloody hell, Mooser; has your sock-puppet come to life like Pinocchio?

      • Mooser on March 16, 2018, 1:09 pm

        “come to life like Pinocchio?”

        Pinocchio? He’s a yenta.

    • Misterioso on March 16, 2018, 10:29 am

      “All this proves is if you behave like a reasonable person and do the correct thing…”

      Serving as a mouthpiece for the entity known as “Israel,” a thoroughly documented racist, fascistic, expansionist, illegal/brutal occupier, ethnic cleanser and serial violator of international law is NOT “the correct thing” to do.

    • CigarGod on March 16, 2018, 10:34 am

      Ah, yes…the “correct” thing.
      Following orders, Kissing ass, Sucking up, Bonking your way to the top…

    • eljay on March 16, 2018, 11:02 am

      The disturbing message of Zionist and aspiring Rottenführer Stefan Groever is clear: In an anti-Semitic environment, successful anti-Semites should be viewed as role models because they behave like reasonable people and do the correct thing.

      I still can’t comprehend why Zionists hate Jews so much.

    • genesto on March 16, 2018, 12:01 pm

      I, for one, will choose Phil, a reasonable person with a heart, over Bari, an unabashed Arab racist, any day of the week!

  2. ckg on March 15, 2018, 4:04 pm

    I am baffled by Joe Scarborough’s comments to Bari Weiss on his MSNBC show:

    “You look at the attacks against you. You’re talking about free speech, and you were attacked of course after this column for trying to inhibit free speech at Columbia when, in fact, you were praised for actually being a free speech champion. And trying to get more voices out there. But still, you were attacked and people tried to stifle your voice after writing this column.”

    So getting professors fired champions free speech? She’s Bizarro Free Speech Champion.

    • Citizen on March 15, 2018, 5:39 pm

      Morning Joe is a piece of Zionist bribed fluff, and his sidekick is not even that much.

    • genesto on March 16, 2018, 12:05 pm

      Bill, Islamophobe-on-steroids, Maher did much the same thing when he had the delightful Ms Weiss on his show too.

  3. Keith on March 15, 2018, 6:29 pm

    PHIL- “In looking over Weiss’s back pages, I was struck by the fact that Zionist advocacy has given Weiss quite a career. She’s in her early 30’s and has had one good break after another, leading up to opinion editing at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.”

    That is, after all, the purpose of Zionism. The reestablishment of broad feelings of Jewish kinship under the banner of Israel and Zionism to facilitate economic advantage and power-seeking. Plus the benefit of claimed never-ending anti-Semitism to ward off examination of the consequences of the strong Zionist emphasis on group cohesion and solidarity in the midst of a multicultural society of non-Jews.

  4. Maghlawatan on March 16, 2018, 10:22 am

    Israel is a catastrophe. A country with so much potential shouldn’t worship violence.
    The saddest part is how the Middle Eastern Jews have absorbed the trauma of the Eastern European Jews who run Israel.

    Etti Ankri is a tunisian Jew who grew up in Israel. She added a Sephardi slant to a song by Khaled, the Algerian maestro. This is a symbol of what Israel could be

    Instead it is ruled by sociopaths

  5. Misterioso on March 16, 2018, 10:50 am

    The Electronic Intifada

    “How Facebook protects Israel”
    By Tamara Nassar, Media Watch 15 March 2018


    “The Israeli authorities are exerting pressure on Facebook to comply with more of their demands.

    “Earlier this month, members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, discussed how to suppress content of which they disapproved on the social media website.

    “One objective was to get Facebook to ban pictures of Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, a Palestinian extrajudicially executed by the Israeli army in February. Human rights groups have concluded that the military sought to kill, rather than arrest, Jarrar, a suspect in the shooting death of an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank.

    “Uri Maklev, an Israeli lawmaker, claimed there is a ‘correlation between social networks and terror operations,’ and that ‘Facebook is responsible for what is being done on its platform’ and must do ‘everything to remove such content.’

    “According to Israel’s state attorney office, the Israeli government requests an average of 12,000 cases of content to be removed from Facebook each year.”

      • MHughes976 on March 16, 2018, 2:49 pm

        Thanks, echino: an interesting account of a temporary block placed on If Americans Knew by YouTube. When I travel by rail in the UK and sometimes try to pass the time with Mondoweiss I receive from more than one rail company the message that MW is blocked. I forget whether they say anything like ‘it’s a hate site’. The blocking has always been absurdly ineffective, just a few splodges across the screen, but it’s clear that it’s not that difficult to get hostile propaganda believed.

      • echinococcus on March 16, 2018, 4:47 pm


        So interesting that Her Gracious Majesty should semi-officially (?) institute government censorship slightly before us against MW. But then, why not? MW itself is no slouch at censorship either, going to bat whenever needed to protect its nice readers from seeing anything that offends its moderators. So Birds Do It, Bees Do It and we have a general consensus to protect our delicate sensitivities on all sides.

        But then, in my eyes the real point of Alison Weir’s thoroughly researched article, perhaps more than just censorship, is the extent of the Zionist Propaganda Ministry work worldwide, an effort unparalleled by the Nazi in their golden years, or even by the most widespread Wall Street campaigns.

      • MHughes976 on March 16, 2018, 6:32 pm

        I think that there had been a write-in campaign persuading the various rail companies to ‘block’ MW and that the same had happened with YouTube and Alison Weir. I don’t think that the government would have been involved.

      • on March 16, 2018, 6:35 pm

        Interesting article- confirms a lot. I’m a big fan of Alison Weir and her site. Tireless defender of Palestinian rights.

      • on March 16, 2018, 7:04 pm

        echi – “MW itself is no slouch at censorship either, going to bat whenever needed to protect its nice readers from seeing anything that offends its moderators.”

        So I’m learning. Their doing a great job of protecting me from my comments that offend them.

      • echinococcus on March 17, 2018, 7:14 am

        Yes, that’s why the question mark, but still any railways in GB are heavily subventioned by the government, which in the US would mean that the constitutional freedoms do apply (as univerity administrator types are learning from the fines they are paying in several cases.

  6. Ossinev on March 16, 2018, 12:04 pm

    @Steve Grover
    “All this proves is if you behave like a reasonable person and do the correct thing your career and when you don’t your career suffers. Bari Weiss has nothing to be ashamed of. The other Weiss, ya know the Harvard Grad, should look to Ms. Weiss as a role model”

    Your career what`s after doing the”correct thing”. At a guess perhaps is eternally linked with Zio a…licking.

    And Phil she should be a role model for you as in she personifies the evil which you are fighting against.

  7. on March 16, 2018, 3:23 pm

    “In looking over Weiss’s back pages, I was struck by the fact that Zionist advocacy has given Weiss quite a career. She’s in her early 30’s and has had one good break after another, leading up to opinion editing at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.”

    Hope you’re not suggesting that zionist Jews control the MSMs messaging on Israel by conspiring to place/promote/advance zionists within the industry. It’s a mere coincidence that Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen, David Brooks, Paul Krugman, Elizabeth Rubin, William Safire, Jennifer Medina, Tamar Lewin, Jon Weisman and other zionists all work for the NYT. The fact that there are no anti-zionist contributors at the Times is again merely a coincidence. After all, the Times have proclaimed, and often, that they are unbiased and actively seek diversity in their viewpoints.

    • Rob Roy on March 17, 2018, 12:26 am

      Ha, ha, ha. Love it.

    • RoHa on March 17, 2018, 2:45 am

      I have a soft spot for William Safire. He had the right ideas about the grammar of conditionals, and that makes up for a lot of sins.

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