The people & the Book - Israel’s 70th: Fit to print?

The "Grey Lady" has a long history of selective coverage on Israel.

By JEROLD S. AUERBACH
April 4, 2018 15:08
The headquarters of the New York Times is pictured on 8th Avenue in New York

The headquarters of the New York Times is pictured on 8th Avenue in New York. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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With Israel's 70th anniversary of independence, an editorial response from The New York Times seems likely. But if past is prologue, the solitary democratic state in the Middle East is unlikely to be celebrated with fulsome praise. The Times’ discomfort with the idea, no less reality, of a Jewish state has a long history stretching back to the purchase of the newspaper by Adolph Ochs in 1896.

Ochs was a proud American Jew. The son-in-law of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, leader of the nascent Reform movement in the late 19th century, he passionately embraced its definition of Judaism as a religion, not a national identity that might prompt dreaded allegations of divided loyalty. Reform Jews had cause for concern: only months earlier Theodor Herzl had published The Jewish State, urging restoration of Jewish national sovereignty in Palestine – “our ever-memorable historic home.” Zionism posed a potentially menacing challenge to the ardent Reform affirmation of the patriotic loyalty of American Jews to the United States.

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