CAMERA calls out NYT for anti-Israel online debate

Studies have shown disproportionate amounts of anti-Israel columns in the paper – and now this.

Hillel Fendel,

New York Times headquarters
New York Times headquarters

In an online debate this week entitled "Is Anti-Zionism Anti-Semitism?" the New York Times enabled discussion on the question of whether anti-Zionists are actually thinly-disguised anti-Semites. For an unexplained reason, the editors thought there should be an odd number of contributors, and solicited three to defend anti-Zionists and only two to oppose them.

CAMERA - the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – has called the Times out on the event. "We’ve long faulted The New York Times Opinion section for its striking anti-Israel slant," the organization wrote. "But this week, the newspaper made its leanings even clearer."

CAMERA noted that since at least 2011, it has found in the Times a continuing "lopsided disproportion" of anti-Israel columns and Op-Eds.

In the on-line debate that began on Monday, the Times editors "stacked the deck with defenders of anti-Zionism and harsh critics of Israel," CAMERA reports.

The organization noted that the editor who solicited the unequal amount of contributors "appears proud" of having done so – for he "retweeted a post by the anti-Israel extremist site Mondoweiss that said, 'Shocker: ‘NYT’ forum on anti-Zionism tilts toward equating Zionism with racism.'"

CAMERA noted two other fundamental problems with the Times' forum. First: the very fact of debating the Jewish people's right to self-determination. "Do the editors think it’s more reasonable to entertain eliminating the Jewish state than getting rid of, say, Pakistan?" the media watchdog organization asks.

Secondly, one of the contributors sought out by the editor of this New York Times on-line debate is one Omar Zahzah, who wrote that Israel has 50 laws that discriminate against its Arab citizens. Included on this list is one delineating the design and size of Israel's flag, another that withholds child allowances for families who don’t vaccinate their children, and several that punish those convicted of terrorism and other crimes.

The 50-laws allegation is therefore just a "patently false claim" and a "propaganda talking point that no responsible media outlet should repeat," CAMERA writes. "If The Times can't identify and substantiate the 50 laws that allegedly 'discriminate' against Israeli Arabs, editors are professionally bound to correct the record."