The New York Times has rarely been good for the Jews or the Jewish state, despite the paper’s nominally Jewish ownership since 1896.
At best, the Times’ coverage of Jews and Israel reeks of misinformation and half-truths. At worst, it is openly biased and hateful.
A recent study confirms blatant anti-Israel bias on the part of the paper. It shows the Times consistently omits or minimizes critical details about the threats Israel faces. The Times also contains disproportionately negative content about the Jewish state and dramatically understates crimes committed by Palestinian terrorist groups against Jews and Israel.
This research was conducted by veteran Israeli journalist Lilac Sigan, in collaboration with International Communication and Public Diplomacy expert professor Eytan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
The study’s findings shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the Times’ decades-long record of anti-Jewish bias, underreporting the events of the Holocaust and most recently singling out the New York Hassidic community for criticism of education in its yeshivas.
The Times’ obsessively cynical tradition of attacking and misrepresenting the Jewish people and their state certainly fits the IHRA definition of antisemitism. It demonizes and works to delegitimize Israel while applying double standards to the Jewish state it holds no other people to—certainly not Palestinians murdering innocent Israeli civilians.
Should the Times or any mainstream media report on blacks, Muslims or trans individuals as it does on Jews and the Jewish state, a nationwide protest would arise to “cancel” the paper. In fact, the Times’ nefarious track record should be a toxicity-warning alert to advertisers and readers alike.
Tragically, the paper gives Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, more bad press than even Iran—a genocidal Islamist dictatorship currently engaged in a brutal crackdown on its own people, who are protesting their despotic rulers. Indeed, the Sigan-Gilboa study found that last year the paper published 20 negative opinion pieces against Israel compared to just 13 for Iran.
The Times repeatedly uses libelous terms in describing the Jewish state. The study noted that the words “Israel” and “apartheid” appeared together 39 times during 2022, while the words “Israel” and “colonialism” appeared together 16 times. In contrast, the words “Hamas” and “terrorist organization” appeared together only 13 times.
The Times claims that the majority of Palestinians killed in 2022 were non-combatants, though the Israeli military asserts that most were combatants. The paper also repeats the common lie that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is illegal under international law, when in fact, Israel has a stronger legal claim to this territory than any nation or group on earth, especially the Palestinians.
The Times‘ blatant anti-Jewish bias is equally evident in its omission of critical facts. Start 65 years ago, when the Times regularly glossed over the horrors of the Holocaust. In her book, Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, author Laurel Leff notes that between 1939-1945 the paper published approximately 1,200 news items related to the fate of the Jews, only 26 of which appeared on the front page, and only six times were Jews identified in headlines as Nazi victims.
The Times rarely mentions the names of the armed groups responsible for the bulk of the terrorist activities against Israelis. Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad merited only eight mentions in headlines in all of 2022. Hamas and Hezbollah were mentioned in a negative sense only once, while PIJ garnered negative mentions twice.
By comparison, 192 headlines mentioning Israel in 2022 held a negative or critical tone. Overall, 53% of the Times‘ news coverage of the Jewish state was negative during the first 10 months of 2022. However, when Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected as Israel’s prime minister in November last year, this figure rose to 68%.
Indeed, when Israelis on Nov. 1 elected a new right-wing government, the Times’ anti-Israel machine went into overdrive. On Feb. 5, 2023, a front-page article and web headline proclaimed, “In West Bank, Settlers Sense Their Moment After Far Right’s Rise.”
The Times used this article to paint “the settler movement,” “settlers,” “settler-activists” and “settler leaders” as international criminals responsible for the conflict with the Palestinians, and for “an unusually intense wave of settler violence against Palestinians and their property.”
While annually, Palestinians experience on average some 300 attacks on their property and 100 attacks on individuals, Israelis every year endure an average of 5,000 murderous Palestinian terrorist attacks. However, the Times’ deceptive journalism gives readers the impression that the Palestinians bear no responsibility for the conflict.
Even more outrageous, the Times’ bias against Israel and the Jews is often explicit and openly antisemitic. This was the case in 2019 when the Times published a cartoon depicting then-U.S. President Donald Trump, blind and wearing a kippah, and being led by a guide dog with a Star of David around its neck and the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Most recently, the Times ran a series of articles alleging educational malpractice among Chassidic yeshivahs. One of these articles suggested that the Chassidic schools find “ways of tapping into enormous sums of government money,” adding that “city and state officials have avoided taking action, bowing to the influence of [Chassidic] leaders who push their followers to vote as a bloc and have made safeguarding the schools their top political priority.”
The implication of this kind of reporting is that Jews behave differently than auto workers’ or teachers’ unions. Such content simply rehashes the age-old antisemitic trope: Jews have an insidious agenda that they secretly promote by unfairly pulling levers of power.
As long as The New York Times persists in telling half-truths and perverse lies about Israel and the Jewish people, it deserves openly to be branded antisemitic. Advertisers have no business supporting it and truth-loving people have no reason to read it.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.