The New York Times and the Climate of Anti-Semitism

On the eve of the shooting at a San Diego synagogue, the New York Times published a despicable anti-Semitic cartoon that could have come from the pages of Der Sturmer. The cartoon used the same tropes and images that the Nazis used to stoke anti-Semitism in Europe.

The Times’ subsequent apology was as disingenuous as it was meaningless. Indeed, days later, even as the emotional shock waves from the San Diego synagogue attack were still being felt, the Times published another vile cartoon recapturing the same characterizations.

Before the second cartoon hit the wires, Times opinion writer Bret Stephens  called out the paper for its anti-Semitic cartoon while describing the accusation that the Times was purposefully anti-Semitic as a “calumny,” a false and despicable accusation.

Stephens’ colleagues rose almost immediately to deny the Times’ obsession with depicting Jews in the vilest ways, its description of the Arab/Israeli conflict as resting solely on the shoulders of Israel, and its role as a bully pulpit for the emergent anti-Semitism of the left. Despite years of documentation of these trends by Honest Reporting and Algemeiner, Stephens’ colleagues dismissed his observations as fantasies.

Fantasies? This is a newspaper that attributed the measles outbreak in New York City to Orthodox Jews. While the views of Orthodox Jews on vaccination are perfectly fair game, it is interesting that the Times barely noted outbreaks in other communities that have resistant attitudes toward vaccination -- such as the Amish or the Somalis in Ilhan Omar’s congressional district.  Rather it is the historic Jew as the transmitter of disease and the infamous black death that the Times seizes upon.

Really, a calumny? This is the newspaper that in 1922 glossed over Hitler’s anti-Semitism. This is the newspaper that buried the Holocaust and took decades to apologize for it. This is the newspaper that on Easter Sunday published an opinion piece that stated that Jesus, a Jew from Judea, was a Palestinian.

Like the modern New York Times, the ancient Romans tried to rewrite Jewish history. After the failed Jewish revolt in the Second Century, the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Judea as Palestine, for the Philistines, the ancient Israelites’ enemy, a coastal people of Greek origin. It is these fair-skinned Greeks, from whom the Southern Syrian Arabs, who were rechristened in the 1960s as Palestinians, claim historic and even more absurdly genetic lineage.

But the Roman retitling of Judea took place some two centuries after Jesus walked the shores of the sea of Galilee and preached the Gospel. Jesus would never have heard the word “Palestine,” let alone been identified as one.

American Jews want to belong to the leftist and progressive clubs. In their alacrity to have a place among the left, they are willing to ignore that a new breed of anti-Semitism is emerging from the left. They are willing to ignore the Times’ anti-Semitism because it is still their secular bible.

The Democratic Party could not muster a resolution to condemn the anti-Semitism of Rep. Ilhan Omar. In the wake of the synagogue shootings perpetrated by right-wing fanatics, the left is quick to blame guns, and, of course, President Donald Trump. But they are reluctant to note that the extreme right in this country, while despicable and violent, has little to no access to either the corridors of power or the pages of the New York Times.

The new climate of anti-Semitism springs from both the left’s inability to confront its own bias and the far right’s use of social media that manipulates a teenager with a Hitler fantasy who wishes to achieve heroism by shooting unarmed people at prayer. Both are dangerous. But in the long run, the climate of opinion shaped by the New York Times and the likes of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib is more dangerous. For a fanatic with a gun can kill dozens, but a political regime finding legitimacy in hatred can justify the killing of millions. Jews should wake up. The left values their votes but not their lives.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Hyam Salomon Center.

On the eve of the shooting at a San Diego synagogue, the New York Times published a despicable anti-Semitic cartoon that could have come from the pages of Der Sturmer. The cartoon used the same tropes and images that the Nazis used to stoke anti-Semitism in Europe.

The Times’ subsequent apology was as disingenuous as it was meaningless. Indeed, days later, even as the emotional shock waves from the San Diego synagogue attack were still being felt, the Times published another vile cartoon recapturing the same characterizations.

Before the second cartoon hit the wires, Times opinion writer Bret Stephens  called out the paper for its anti-Semitic cartoon while describing the accusation that the Times was purposefully anti-Semitic as a “calumny,” a false and despicable accusation.

Stephens’ colleagues rose almost immediately to deny the Times’ obsession with depicting Jews in the vilest ways, its description of the Arab/Israeli conflict as resting solely on the shoulders of Israel, and its role as a bully pulpit for the emergent anti-Semitism of the left. Despite years of documentation of these trends by Honest Reporting and Algemeiner, Stephens’ colleagues dismissed his observations as fantasies.

Fantasies? This is a newspaper that attributed the measles outbreak in New York City to Orthodox Jews. While the views of Orthodox Jews on vaccination are perfectly fair game, it is interesting that the Times barely noted outbreaks in other communities that have resistant attitudes toward vaccination -- such as the Amish or the Somalis in Ilhan Omar’s congressional district.  Rather it is the historic Jew as the transmitter of disease and the infamous black death that the Times seizes upon.

Really, a calumny? This is the newspaper that in 1922 glossed over Hitler’s anti-Semitism. This is the newspaper that buried the Holocaust and took decades to apologize for it. This is the newspaper that on Easter Sunday published an opinion piece that stated that Jesus, a Jew from Judea, was a Palestinian.

Like the modern New York Times, the ancient Romans tried to rewrite Jewish history. After the failed Jewish revolt in the Second Century, the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Judea as Palestine, for the Philistines, the ancient Israelites’ enemy, a coastal people of Greek origin. It is these fair-skinned Greeks, from whom the Southern Syrian Arabs, who were rechristened in the 1960s as Palestinians, claim historic and even more absurdly genetic lineage.

But the Roman retitling of Judea took place some two centuries after Jesus walked the shores of the sea of Galilee and preached the Gospel. Jesus would never have heard the word “Palestine,” let alone been identified as one.

American Jews want to belong to the leftist and progressive clubs. In their alacrity to have a place among the left, they are willing to ignore that a new breed of anti-Semitism is emerging from the left. They are willing to ignore the Times’ anti-Semitism because it is still their secular bible.

The Democratic Party could not muster a resolution to condemn the anti-Semitism of Rep. Ilhan Omar. In the wake of the synagogue shootings perpetrated by right-wing fanatics, the left is quick to blame guns, and, of course, President Donald Trump. But they are reluctant to note that the extreme right in this country, while despicable and violent, has little to no access to either the corridors of power or the pages of the New York Times.

The new climate of anti-Semitism springs from both the left’s inability to confront its own bias and the far right’s use of social media that manipulates a teenager with a Hitler fantasy who wishes to achieve heroism by shooting unarmed people at prayer. Both are dangerous. But in the long run, the climate of opinion shaped by the New York Times and the likes of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib is more dangerous. For a fanatic with a gun can kill dozens, but a political regime finding legitimacy in hatred can justify the killing of millions. Jews should wake up. The left values their votes but not their lives.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Hyam Salomon Center.