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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Open Letter to the New York Times Public Editor: Cohen Vilifies Israel's Russian Jews

Below is an e-mail that I sent today to the Office of the Public Editor of The New York Times:

You suggested that I write to you directly when issues arise concerning material published by the Times. Yesterday, in an op-ed entitled "Modern Folly, Ancient Wisdom" (, Roger Cohen wrote:

"Several factors have nudged [Israel] rightward: religious-settler extremism; obliviousness to the Palestinian plight now concealed behind walls; Russian-imported strands of Arab-baiting intolerance."

As I observed in a comment "rejected" by the Times's moderators, absent from Cohen's laundry list are suicide bombings that have claimed the lives of some 1,000 Israeli civilians; more than 10,000 mortar rockets, missiles and mortar shells fired at civilian targets by Hamas in recent years; and some 40,000 missiles, including highly accurate M-600s, sent to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria subsequent to 2006 and aimed at Israel's cities. Moreover, my "rejected" comment observed that notwithstanding Cohen's claim that the "real threat [Israel] faces today is not one of destruction but of de-legitimization," Israel today is facing an existential threat from precision missiles capable of hitting anywhere in the country.

I have no problem with the "rejection" of my comment, given the explanation that the Times is free to post or not post whatever it pleases.

However, I do have a problem when Cohen vilifies in his op-ed a million Jewish immigrants who came to Israel from the former Soviet Union. These immigrants have contributed mightily to Israel's culture and science and have also quickly integrated themselves into Israel's democratic political system; they have representation in all of Israel's major political parties.

Although Cohen appears to have issues with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, by what right does he denigrate an entire group of persons consisting of a million people with diverse political views?

When do the slurs stop? More to the point, does such unsubstantiated abuse deserve the attention of the Public Editor?

Best regards,

Let's see how he responds.


  1. Thank you, Jeffrey

    American political correctness does not allow showing contempt for the people based on their country of origin. NYTimes would not violate this rule for anybody, except Jews. They still could not say "Jewish strand of Arab intolerance". Instead, Cohen and NYTimes say "Russian strand".
    Russian, Eastern European Jews were a favorit target of "emaciated" self-hating Jews in Europe since 19th century.

  2. You're right, Marina, and who knows this better than I do, owing to the familial tensions created when my father, from a Austrian-Hungarian background, married my mother, from a Russian background.

    Also interesting that Cohen is blaming Russian immigrants for intolerance, given that only some ten years ago, all the blame was being directed at American immigrants.

    Bottom line: if I have to choose between de-legitimization in the eyes of a hateful world and survival, I choose the latter.

  3. Does Hezbollah have launchers for the missiles?