As Brett Stephens pointed out, the anti-Semitic cartoon that appeared in the international edition of The New York Times is not coincidental. Stephens rightly pointed out that the cartoon to a certain extent is inseparable from the paper’s position on Israel and on Zionism.
To be sure there is an anti-Zionist campaign in the world, which is the result of the actions and propaganda of the radical Islamists, the Palestinian Authority, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Arab and Muslim states, mainstream Muslim and Arab organizations, some Imams, the West extreme and parts of the moderate left, and a non-negligible number of academics.
Many of the groups that I mentioned also advocate for the destruction of the State of Israel — some like the Iranians and radical Islamists openly talk about destruction of the only Jewish state. Others claim that Israel is not a legitimate entity and therefore it should become a bi-national state hoping for the victory of an Arab majority.
That propaganda has effects that manage to spread beyond these radical elements.
Nowadays, the anti-Zionist discourse that emanates from multiple sources poisons the environment to the point that people begin to believe that Israel is the villain.
This discourse has multiple underlying messages: “The Palestinians are the victims”; “the occupation and the settlements are the root cause of Palestinian outrage and perhaps also of Islamic terrorism”; “Gaza is an open-air prison”; “Hamas attacks are not comparable with the disproportionate power of the Israeli army"; "the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was a ploy to annex the West Bank"; “The Oslo Agreements were nothing but an Israeli strategy to outsource the repression of the Palestinian people to the Palestinian Authority”; “Jewish power in the U.S prevents peace (and sometimes encourages war)”.
The list of distortions and lies is too long to mention them all.
What is important is that a culture of anti-Zionism has already been created in journalistic, academic, and left-wing political circles (the British Labor party being a clear example of the latter).
We can draw a parallel between the culture of contemporary anti-Zionism and the anti-Semitic culture that existed in Germany before the ascent of Hitler to power, even if the situation is not quite identical.
The historian Saul Friedlander describes how Jews in Germany during the Second Reich and the Weimar Republic became victims of all kinds of senseless accusations.
Jews were falsely accused of either avoiding the front lines during military service and of taking advantage of the war to enrich themselves. In fact, findings indicated that Jews and Germans equally served in the army. Later, as Germans began to fear the rise of Bolshevism, there was a strong inclination to accuse the Jews of being the main precursors of Bolshevism in Germany and beyond. Jews were also the bankers, those who ran every single aspect of German economic life. Jews were also those who dominated every aspect of German cultural life. These sentiments increased as the Nazi party made in grounds in Nazi Germany’s political and public life.
Most interestingly however, there was an element in German society that Friedlander called, the “moderate anti-Semites.” They represented the most dominant form of anti-Semitism. Moderate anti-Semitism would be defined as “this vague sense of unease about Jews that stopped far short of wanting to harm but that may have helped to neutralize whatever aversion Germans might otherwise have felt for the Nazis.”
Here is where The New York Times falls under. The New York Times overstresses Israeli faults and defects, even if they are minor. The Palestinians or even the Arabs rarely appeared on the wrong side.
The average reader loses sight that the Palestinians rejected Israel's generous concessions on multiple occasions, ignored Obama’s proposal that called for an arrangement based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and for a solution of the refugee issue and the division of Jerusalem.
By the same token, readers would never know that the checkpoints Israel has imposed on the West Bank didn’t exist before Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis, many of them in their own towns, homes, theaters, and coffee shops. The Times would not remind their readership that Israel withdrew from Gaza only to be bombarded by Hamas terrorists or that Egypt is also imposing a blockade on Gaza.
This tendency has caught fire in the academia and among a few members of Congress such as Senator Bernie Sanders who claimed that in the last Gaza War, Israel killed 10,000 Palestinians (a figure that even Hamas never claimed).
This attitude represents the equivalent of the German moderate anti-Semitism. The New York Times or individuals like Senator Sanders and others may not support the destruction of Israel or perhaps even BDS but they provide enough arguments to neutralize aversion to Israel’s enemies and even to the anti-Semites.
Therefore, the American Jewish Committee was right in not accepting the Times’ apologies.
What the Times need to do is to change its entire dishonest approach and begin at least to tell the entire truth and not half-truth.
Luis Fleischman is a professor of Sociology at Palm Beach State College, the co-founder of the think-tank the Palm Beach Center for Democracy and Policy Research and an advisor on Latin America for the Center for Security Policy. He is also the author of "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Threat to U.S. Security." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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