The New York Times Hates Israel

December 18, 2011 by Isi Leibler
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The brouhaha over the recent New York Times column by Tom Friedman highlights the newspaper’s increasing hostility against Israel…writes Isi Leibler.

Isi Leibler

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.

Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem. He is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.


8 Responses to “The New York Times Hates Israel”
  1. michael Burd says:

    Perhaps the headline above could read..

    ‘ Fairfax Hates Israel’

  2. Leon Mintz says:

    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.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    I couldn’t agree more about having to be vigilant in responding to these destructive articles/opinion pieces. If they’re written and propounded by Jews it makes the task of defending the truth about Israel even more difficult (despite ‘truth’ being prone to subjectivity, there are elemental truths that should be objectively recognised). I do my bit as a ‘watch dog’ in this regard and have recently written to the SBS Ombudsman regarding that travesty of a film ‘The Promise’ (apparently directed by a man by name of Kozminsky, who is Jewish). Israel is by no means perfect in its decision-making or actions, but the hounding and vilification it’s subjected to is both a disgrace and a worry. I’ve pondered for a long time now why the Jewish voice is raised, not just in opposition, but in diametrically opposed and passionate argument, against its own. It’s fine and healthy to have argument and debate and there are many different Jews and strains of thought. But why do we have so many virulently arguing against the State of Israel? The Israeli and esteemed academic/writer, Barry Rubin, in his book ‘Jew: assimilation and its discontents’ examines many issues relating to being Jewish , including discussion of those Jews throughout history who sought ‘escape’ from being a Jew. Perhaps those journalists we’re speaking of here are escaping ‘being a Jew’. In his book Rubin recounts how the Jewish effort to break out of the ghetto unleashed three revolutions: first, a movement to redefine what it meant to be Jewish at all; second, the Jewish contribution to movements of social change; and third, the Jewish shaping of today’s dominant liberal humanist culture. It’s an excellent work. Although I’m still sometimes shocked, and nearly always perplexed, as to why some Jews distort the facts against Israel and ultimately themselves. It’s a huge gift to those who hate Israel and Jewish people.

  4. Rita says:

    “…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….

    And you can add to them: SBS, “our” (ha!) ABC, the Age and the SMH(*).

    (*) Remember the SMH’s McGeogh “reporting” from the “Kill-the-Jews” flotilla? And winning a “Wakely for that?

  5. david singer says:


    Why don’t you submit this outstanding op ed to the NYT to publish? Test their ability to publish a well researched and justified critique of themselves.

  6. Norman E. Fox says:

    1. They say that American Jews are not real Jews. 2. They act like Newt Gingrich .. if the court doesn’t go my way, the lets interfere with the court. 3. They deliberately stall the peace process by bringing up issues that need not have been brought up … e.g Israel as a Jewish state, as if Israel needed anybody’s permission to define itself, and by needlessly antagonizing the Arabs, 4. They try to limit the free speech of people who don’t agree with the current government and the right wing …. free speech if you agree with us. Now that I said these things I must be Antisemitic. In other words, agree with you 100 percent or I’m against Israel and an anti-semite. I thought Obama worked for me, you seem to think he works for you. If he doesn’t like everything on your agenda, he must be against you. If Israeli’s continue to use reasoning like this and continues to alienate the few friends they still have left, then your going to have big trouble. And if you go down, so will the rest of the Jews …. including me.

    • david singer says:

      To Norman E Fox

      Since all of the Palestinian Arab major political factions call for the elimination of the Jewish state – it is essential that any peace treaty with them stipulate their recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people by the unconditional repudiation of their Charters and Constitutions that contain such offensive and racist assertions.

      Sorry to inform you – but it is the 130 years old Arab failure to recognize the right of the Jews to reconstitute their national home in their ancient biblical and historic homeland – as legally recognized by the League of Nations and the United Nations – that has been the root cause in perpetuating a conflict that could have been resolved as early as 1937, or 1947, or between 1948-1967, or in 2001 or in 2008.

      You aren’t anti semitic but you appear to be anti-Zionist. That is indeed your prerogative as indeed it is the New York Times prerogative to be anti-Zionist as Isi Liebler points out in the above article.

      Just recognize the majority of Jews are Zionists who are entitled to the same freedom of expression as you. They appreciate what horrors 2000 years of statelessness has wrought on the Jewish people and are determined to ensure it does not happen again.

      • Norm says:

        Yes, you are right…..the biggest obstructionists have been the Arabs and other Muslims. I just think the current government of Israel has made things worse and I don’t like the attitude that “if your are not with me 100%, you must be against me.” I am not anti Zionist. I think there should be a defensible Jewish state. If Israel went down, I would be very very very upset and, probably, it would be open season on Jews everywhere such as happened back in the Roman expulsion of the Jews.

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