On April 25, The New York Times’ international print edition published an anti-Semitic cartoon (pictured above) depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog wearing a Star of David on his collar and leading President Trump, who was drawn as a blind man wearing a kippah.
The Friday after the cartoon was published, our Senior Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch gave a sermon addressing anti-Semitism coming from both the right and left, and said:
“I accept The New York Times’ explanation of the process that led to the anti-Semitic cartoon in the international edition. I have no reason to doubt their description of lax supervision in the international publication. I also accept the paper’s apologies. They strike me as sincere.
“It took The Times too long to get to the place that should have been obvious from the start. Drawing the prime minister of Israel as a dog, hanging a Star of David on him, while he is leading the blind American president on a leash – who is adorned with a kippah on his head – employs classic anti-Semitic tropes.
“After days of inadequacy, by Wednesday they reached the right place. They themselves conceded that the cartoon was anti-Semitic, writing in an editorial: ‘Anti-Zionism can clearly serve as a cover for anti-Semitism — and some criticism of Israel, as the cartoon demonstrated, is couched openly in anti-Semitic terms.’”
The Times also announced that the editor who chose to publish the cartoon would be disciplined and that it had canceled the contract with the syndicate that provided the cartoon.
On Wednesday Rabbi Hirsch was among a dozen rabbis who met for nearly two hours with The New York Times’ publisher, A.G. Sultzberger, and editorial page editor, James Bennet. At the meeting, most of which was off the record, The Times addressed the Jewish community’s concerns about the cartoon and perceived bias in its Israel coverage – and Sulzberger further assured the rabbis present that the Times would be updating its implicit bias training for employees to include a focus on anti-Semitism.
Rabbi Hirsch noted to Sulzberger and Bennett that our generally more liberal Upper West Side congregants are among the core of The Times’ readership – and that many of us were shaken by the appearance of the cartoon. “We are the ones who view The New York Times to be the leading newspaper in the world playing an indispensable role in our free society. We want The Times to succeed and prosper.”
Discussing the paper’s coverage of Israel during the latest flare up of hostilities from Gaza, Rabbi Hirsch said, “It must be very hard to toe the line with flack coming from both sides. I urge your reporters and editors to think morally – and report the truth as fairly and accurately as they can. Attacking Israel with indiscriminate rocket fire is not freedom fighting; it’s terrorism.”
If you’re interested in learning more about fighting hatred of Jews, please consider joining our Anti-Semitism Task Force.