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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ongoing Tolerance of Anti-Semitism by The New York Times

TO: The Public Editor, The New York Times

Dear _________,

Further to our correspondence concerning the publication of anti-Semitic readers' comments by The New York Times, I wish to draw to your attention the following comment posted by the Times on July 12, 2010 in response to Ethan Bronner's article, "Israeli Military Finds Flotilla Killings Justified":

albany ny
July 12th, 2010
4:05 pm
Nothing new here. I guess I now understand why Iran wants nuclear weapons! If I lived anywhere close to fascist Israel, I would want them too. After all, if Israel can have them why not everyone else? I guess being gods chosen means never having to say I'm sorry! What claptrap. Imagine the creator choosing the most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth as his "special people"!
Recommended by 79 Readers

This is vulgar, anti-Semitic, abusive and inflammatory in the extreme, and if this is deemed to fall within the realm of the norms of The New York Times ("Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive"), it deserves to be disseminated to all of your readership so as to enable them to decide whether they should be subscribing to or placing advertisements in the Times.

Moreover, given the persistent recurrence of this phenomenon at the Times and the resultant damage, it is not enough that someone at your newspaper ultimately removes such vile comments days or weeks following their publication. This is an issue which should have been addressed by The New York Times long ago.

Have your "moderators" ever been instructed concerning the meaning of anti-Semitism and its potential repercussions? Have any concrete measures been instituted to put an end to this phenomenon?

I will be publishing this e-mail as an open letter in my blog and await your response.



  1. The conduct of the Times is disgusting. They wouldn't dare permit abuse of this kind directed at any other minority.

  2. Welcome back! Given my personal experience, I doubt that they will respond. Maybe it is indeed time to educate their advertisers . . .

  3. Hi, Jeffrey

    Why do you talk about one comments? There are hundreds of them. Here are more examples:

    "13.... This is not the time for niceties and fine points. Israel is a thug outlaw country and we must all, every day, in every possible way boycott everything they sell. Everything. Tell your friends, Spread the word.

    16.Let's see, the wolf's people held an "investigation" into killing of chickens...and --surprise, surprise--exonerated the wolves for killing chickens! Is anyone surprised by this shameful development? I hear a collective "DUH!"
    22.What did anyone expect! The US and the UN continue to let Isreal get away with murder. It's been going on for over 50 years and is not going to stop anytime soon.

    66.Shameless action and Israel do not show any guilt. Thats there Character.
    No matter what they say, how many journalists and newspapers are on there payroll, I tell you what..

    They simply cannot get respect from any nation for there crimes. Sooner they understand better it will be.

    103. State zionism is a bad idea. The state of Israel was and is a bad idea. Time for a change

    116. As the Turkish PM Erdogan said: "The Israelis are very good at killing people". That's all they do well.Play soccer at the World cup? Nah--Too busy killing people.Armenians, Ukranians, Russians, Palestinians, Lebonese.And they're also very good at getting the Americans to invade other countries and kill people for them also.No time to relax and enjoy life. Kill, kill, kill."

    This is the system, not an exception. There is not point to remove any single comments. It will not change anything.

  4. Hi Marina,

    Thanks. Quite honestly, I did not read through all of the comments to this flawed article in which the author bent over backwards to appear "evenhanded".

    Indeed, removing a single comment will have no effect. On the other hand, convincing, for example, major New York retail chains not to place their advertisements with The New York Times until they desist from the publication of vulgar forms of anti-Semitism could cause them to reflect upon their attitude.

  5. There is a double-pronged approach: BIG Jewish organizations need to take out full-page articles in prominent newspapers like LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post etc reprinting some of these comments that go virtually unchallenged just as we know, as this Sabbath before Tisha B'av reminds us, that the darker the defamation, the more glorious the light as we keep on keepin' on.

    What might be best process to expedite the first aspect?

  6. I just called AIPAC. They said it is not their business - they work with Congress. They advised me to call CAMERA (they deal with media) or ADL. So far, ADL does not answer: Phone: (212) 885-7970
    Can not find the organization called CAMERA. The web site does not work.

  7. Marina and Happyminyan,

    Many thanks for your encouragement and kind efforts. I forwarded copies of this correspondence, inter alia, to various persons at AIPAC, the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

    CAMERA acknowledged receipt of this material and thanked me. I don't know why their website is unavailable.

    My thought is to show companies advertising in The New York Times what The Times deems "not abusive".

  8. I contacted Ricki Hollander
    She said she is working on a material about readers forums and online comments, where she will utilize this material.

    How to get to the advertisers?

  9. Thanks, Marina!

    I intend to speak with several "well-placed" friends in the coming days in order to obtain the names of persons responsible for purchasing significant advertising space on behalf of well-known NY retailers. Your assistance, recommendations and suggestions, and those of other persons who frequent this blog, will be much appreciated.

    I want to give the Public Editor another day or two to get back to me. If not, I am furious and will not let this matter rest . . .

  10. While I agree with your outrage, I would like to point out that reader's comments are never in the print edition, so perhaps you should focus on the NYT online advertisers.

    I am just glad that Kristof returned to human trafficking, once his Palestine assignment timed for Netanyahu's visit with Obama was over.
    And, Roger Cohen was quite bearable in his post-World Cup debut. I think he was affected by all the comments that suggested he shift to sports writing while he was writing about the World Cup.


  11. Thanks, K2K.

    I can certainly start with the online advertisers, e.g. Starbucks and Continental Airlines.

    Re Kristof, Cohen and Dowd, I hope to post something shortly.

  12. FYI, CAMERA's site was unavailable because we were in the middle of a DoS (denial of service) attack. Everything should be back to normal by the end of the day.