April 29, 2019

Special Issue: Why We Canceled The New York Times.

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

We did something we’ve never done before. We canceled our subscription to a publication in protest over a cartoon. Of course, we’re talking about the remarkably anti-Semitic cartoon published in the international edition of the New York Times yesterday. And, yes, it was an anti-Semitic gut punch to anyone who seriously searches for well-reasoned perspective in this crazy and dangerous world. No one should confuse this insult to intelligence with a mere opinion expressed through a cartoon.

Just as we would cancel a book club membership that promoted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a legitimate literary work rather than the very dangerous anti-Semitic screed that it is, we canceled our subscription to the New York Times for featuring a not-so-subtle anti-Semitic image reminiscent of the worst graphics served up by Der Stürmer and the Nazis.  Now, for the record, let us state that we eagerly read journals and watch programs that often express views with which we do not agree. We love that America is hospitable to differing opinions and robust debate. We debate rather robustly ourselves.  This cartoon, however, was not even close to rational opinion. It was a calumny. It would delight the likes of Julius Streicher and others of his ilk who fawned over the outrages of Der Stürmer. It should repulse everyone else who enjoys a modicum of decency or judgment.   

The cartoon pictures a blind President Trump, his head adorned with a yarmulke (the traditional skull cap worn by many observant Jews) being led by a dog (a German dachshund, no less) wearing a Jewish star on its collar and sporting a facial likeness of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is a new portrayal of an old anti-Semitic trope. It is a trope, a cliché, that has been around for centuries—Jews controlling the world. It is a calumny, a sick smear that misanthropes have used many times before. It stimulates the worst instincts and feeds the worst appetites of the worst people. It does this today, as it has for century after century.

No, we do not consider the New York Times to be an anti-Semitic publication, just, in this instance, a terribly and irresponsibly negligent publication. If these were normal times in America and abroad we probably would not have reacted so strongly.  But these are not normal times. These are ugly times. These are deadly times. We are living through a time when we are witnessing, far too often, miscreants acting out their worst instincts. The murder of innocents where they stroll or shop or dine or worship has become commonplace. Over and over again we hear that these killers are motivated by something they’ve read or heard or imagined. Yet this hateful image was distributed throughout the world, and the distributor was the New York Times.

This cartoon didn’t just sneak onto the pages of the New York Times international edition. Someone in the editorial hierarchy of the publication made that decision to publish it. All of the apologies in the world can’t change that, and one wonders if the publication would be apologizing at all if there had not been such an outcry from thinking people of different faiths and different nationalities.  

Perhaps Imam Mohamad Tawhidi summed it up best. “If you’re wondering what type of photo ISIS’ Al Baghdadi would hang on his wall, look no further than the New York Times cartoon displaying Jewish people as dogs…” And therein lies our deep objection to the Times’ absence of judgment and any sense of consequence when making the decision to publish this affront. Its audience was widespread. Its message was combustible. We’ve not likely heard or seen the last of it. It will have a long life. It will be reprinted many times by many people with the ugliest of intentions. It will, no doubt, cause misery as it motivates sick and hateful people to do sick and hateful things.

And it will mostly be impactful having been published by the organization that proudly praises itself as the home of all the news that’s fit to print. Well, not this time.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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14 responses to “Special Issue: Why We Canceled The New York Times.”

  1. Jerry Kessler says:

    Your condemnation is appropriate. The outcry however, while reacted to by Jewish people is strong and ardent, it is lacking elsewhere. While it may have appeared on the net work news, I have not seen anyone one on ABC, NBC or CBS denounce it.
    I am not sure the the NYT should be absolved of being anti semitic. It is beyond belief that any publication would print a political cartoon portraying a Jew as a dog with the ugly theme of Jews control the world, bearing the faces of the leaders of both the United States and Israel.

  2. Leonard sherman says:

    Thank you! Its this type of hate propaganda that motivates the murder of Jews in our synagogues. To refresh your reader’s memories it was this type of hate of the Jewish people printed in the newspapers in Germany that motivated the German people to believe that all Jews were like dogs, and killing six million Jews was ok because they read it in their newspapers, and were told it was true and a fact by Nazis like Goebbels .

  3. Elliot solomon says:

    Great essay Hal, you hit the nail on the head, I can only hope that many media sources pick up your essay and go with it
    Again good job
    Elliot

  4. Sunday the noted Jewish columnist, Brett Stephens, who publishes regularly in the NYT’s wrote an editorial concerning the antisemitic cartoon published in the Times the day before. Rather astonishingly he strongly admonished the Times for publishing the cartoon. In the course of his article he declared, “For some Times readers — or, as often, former readers — the answer is clear: The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.”
    This by someone obviously deeply in the know at the Times disputes the notion expressed above by our editors, for whom I have great respect, that the Times isn’t anti-semitic. Stephens also points out, “anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent. ”
    Overall a deplorable event.

  5. Barbara Fromm says:

    We too are canceling our NYTimes subscription. Life will be just fine without our daily reading. It is almost a cleasning experience.
    Hopefully more people will follow suit. Each and every subscription cancellation will be meaningful. Best regards, Barbara Fromm

  6. Gary Gittelsohn says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your decision to cancel your subscription to the New York Times and your rationale for doing so. No reasonable person can sensibly defend the Times’ publication of such an overtly anti-semitic cartoon timed to appear in its International Edition on the final day of Passover.
    And, when the predictable blowback began to swell, how did the Times react? Well, it added insult to injury by releasing an “Editors Note” admitting that the image was “offensive” and it was an “error in judgment to publish it.” It read like a staff lawyer’s attempt at damage control, but it failed miserably by its glaring omission of an actual apology. Only after another day of embarrassing attention and, I suspect, canceled newspaper subscriptions, did the Times issue a second statement containing belated words of apology. One must question their sincerity.
    This isn’t the first time the New York Times has been charged with a condemnable anti-semitic scandal. The Times’ own Bret Stephens wrote an excellent opinion in yesterday’s paper referencing its “long-standing Jewish problem, dating back to World War II when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust.”
    For those who may be interested in the background about the Times purposeful decision to bury the bulk of its Holocaust coverage, an eighteen-minute short subject documentary, “Reporting on The Times: the New York Times and The Holocaust” may be of interest. The film is inspired by Laurel Leff’s book, “Buried by the Times,” and you can view the film at this link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1LxXDjkN44

  7. B . Thomas says:

    We cancelled our subscriptions long ago. When an editorial appeared on the front page as”news”. It was an opinion piece, presented as news on the front page., Not right. Report facts and the reader makes their own decision. No more NYT for us. Not really trustworthy.

  8. Perry says:

    Your cancellation was certainly worthy and sincere. One must
    remember how this paper going back to WW2 was never a
    friend of the Jewish people.

    Now in a show of solidarity with many New Yorkers is a great
    time to express their disgust by also cancelling their subscriptions in great numbers.

    Not just subscriptions but advertising as well.

  9. susan duman says:

    So I’m wondering, that I did not cancel my NYT , what does that say about me?
    The cartoon was as horrible as it was. Is there an element of anti-Semitism that crosses so many organizations some of which I support? I imagine so. I could be paranoid. At some level. I think many “non Jews” wonder what it is within us that propels us to success. I learned about this at The Jewish Museum in Berlin. What a p-lace to see what happened to the farmers who continued to till the land and the Jews who traveled back to the city for more education. I’m talking about somewhere between 1200 AD for the next few hundred years.
    I think that “the moxy” of Jews is a trait that has been exaggerated by “non Jews”, etc, etc,
    I’m not moving to Israel, I will continue to read a variety of publications. If things change for me, you’ll be the first to know.

  10. Marc Slavin says:

    It will be interesting to see if any of the jewish Times employees have the guts to resign.?

  11. Robert borns says:

    Thanks Hal. Great article. But a dog is a dog and a cat is a cat and the nytimes is a Jew hating anti semitic newspaper. And Jews that continue to subscribe should be ashamed of themselves. Period!

  12. Ted Goldman says:

    Sheila and I have cancelled our Sunday NY Times subscription over this latest intentional anti-Semitic outrage.

  13. Roberta Holland says:

    Bravo, Hal. I thought this was an exceptionally well written piece, appropriatly outraged and incredibly informative about how and why this is so dangerous (feeds the worst kind of people).
    I have canceled my subscription but I wonder how much pain this will cause them, no matter how many of us follow suit I suspect the real pressure will come from their advertisers—if we stopped buying products that advertise in the paper. Don’t know how much good it would do but I will try. Anything to make our voices heard. You did a great job speaking for all of us. Thank you

  14. Michael Gong says:

    I’m with you on this. I recall the insulting cartoons of “yellow” people at the onset of the Chinese Exclusion Act. All things considered, this is worse. Much worse. Revolting.

    Michael Gong
    mcgong@att.net

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