Israeli ambassador calls NYT ‘cesspool of hostility’

“We have also seen one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers become a cesspool of hostility towards Israel that goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy."

Ron Dermer (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ron Dermer
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON  — The Israeli ambassador to the United States linked The New York Times to the “Jew-hatred of growing parts of the intellectual class.”

Ron Dermer was speaking Monday in the U.S. Capitol at the annual Holocaust Days of Remembrance organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

It was an unusually political attack on a day and at an event organized by an institution that generally focuses on the historical meaning of the Holocaust.

Dermer listed recent lethal attacks against Jews, including Saturday’s deadly shooting at the Chabad of Poway, a suburb of San Diego. His remarks were posted on his Facebook page.

He attributed the California attack, which killed one congregant and injured three , and the October massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 worshippers, to white supremacists. But Dermer added that “we have also seen anti-Semitism increasingly poison minds in the political classes of what once proudly called itself the West.”

Describing what he termed “the Jew-hatred of growing parts of the intellectual class,” Dermer referred to anti-Semitism plaguing Britain’s Labour Party and rising anti-Israel activity on campuses.

“We have also seen one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers become a cesspool of hostility towards Israel that goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy,” Dermer said.

“The same New York Times that a century ago mostly hid from their readers the Holocaust of the Jewish people has today made its pages a safe space for those who hate the Jewish state. Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and anti-Semitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil.”

Over the weekend, The Times apologized for including in its international print edition a cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a yarmulke-clad President Donald Trump.

The cartoon led to intense criticism of the newspaper, including by some of its op-ed page columnists who are consistently pro-Israel. Among them is Bret Stephens, who wrote a column about the cartoon excoriating his newspaper for “an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism,” coming from a news outlet “that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.” Stephens said the paper should apologize to Netanyahu.

However, Stephens, a former editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post, added: “I have now been with The Times for two years and I’m certain that the charge that the institution is in any way anti-Semitic is a calumny.”

Dermer has long been a critic of The Times, particularly its op-ed pages. In 2011, as a top aide to Netanyahu, he angrily declined an invitation to write an op-ed.

“It would seem as if the surest way to get an Op-Ed published in The New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel,” he said in a letter responding to The Times’ invitation that he released to The Jerusalem Post.

Dermer in his Holocaust remembrance speech also alluded to a recent controversy surrounding a freshman Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has been accused of invoking anti-Semitic slanders in some of her statements critical of Israel. She has apologized for some, but not all of the statements.

“Its noxious fumes have even penetrated this marble-domed sanctuary of democracy,” Dermer said of anti-Semitism.