The Jewish Roots of the New York Times’ Anti-Israel Bias

Unfair, even antisemitic treatment of Israel by the New York Times is nothing new. In fact, it goes back 120 years

By David Lazarus | | Topics: New York Times
Photo: Creative Commons

The anti-Israel bias of the New York Times is well known, and this week’s cartoon of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu portrayed as a dog on President Trump’s leash was just another example of how the iconic media giant shows its anti-Israel propaganda. 

What most people don’t know is that the Times’ predisposition to unjustly criticizing Israel goes back 120 years, when a Reformed Jew bought the newspaper. In 1884, Adolph Ochs, a staunch adherent of Reformed Judaism, bought the fledgling newspaper for $75,000 and quickly turned it into one of the world’s most influential publications, but not without a clear political agenda. 

The Times’ new publisher was married to the daughter of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the leading proponent of Reform Judaism in America and the founder of Hebrew Union College. Both of these organizations stood fiercely against the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel, and Ochs provided these movements with major coverage in the newspaper.

These Reformed Jews feared that building a Jewish nation would call into question the loyalty of American Jews to the United States, and thereby foment antisemitism. They wanted Judaism to be an unobtrusive, non-confrontational religion, and to never become politically-involved or even associated with a national Jewish identity in a Jewish state. 

Ochs himself was engaged in fighting antisemitism, and successfully used his influence at the Times to convince other newspapers to stop their hateful characterization of Jews in the press. But the Times’ anti-Israel stand proved to be an ominous threat to the very survival of the Jewish people. The anti-Zionist and anti-Israel stance remained entrenched in the newspaper even throughout the days of WWII, when Jews were trying to flee Nazi Germany to their homeland in Israel. 

After Ochs’ death in 1935, his son-in-law Arthur Hays Sulzberger was appointed to replace him as publisher of the Times. As incredible as it sounds, Sulzberger, also a practicing Reform Jew, was an avid and outspoken supporter of the American Council for Judaism, an organization founded in June 1942 for the purpose of opposing Zionism and the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel (to fight antisemitism, they wrongly believed). 

Sulzberger was regularly criticized for refusing to cover the post-Holocaust rebuilding of a homeland for the Jewish people in Israel in his newspaper. In a 1946 speech, Sulzberger infamously claimed that Zionism was to blame for some of the Jewish deaths in the Holocaust, saying, “It is my judgment that thousands of dead might now be alive” if “the Zionists” had put “less emphasis on statehood.”

In the post-Holocaust years leading up to the creation of modern Israel, most Jews and many non-Jews supported the establishment of a Jewish state, but astonishingly the Reformed American Council for Judaism and the publisher of the Times continued to oppose Zionism even in 1948. 

After the Six-Day War, and until today, the Times has consistently stood for the irresponsible and unrealistic political view that Israel must abandon all lands captured in the wars, including Jerusalem. In line with the paper’s left-wing agenda, the Times’ current Jerusalem bureau chief, Thomas Friedman, also a Jew, continues to call for a Palestinian state in all the biblical territories now settled by Israel as the only way forward for a peace agreement. Friedman is also a relentless critic of Netanyahu and Israeli government policies. 

The Times’ latest lampooning of Netanyahu being criticized in Jewish circles around the world as antisemitism is just another page in the ongoing scheme to criticize Israel in support of the newspaper’s liberal, post-modern political agenda. 

Jews of yesteryear and today who think they are protecting themselves against antisemitism by pushing against a strong and secure national homeland for the Jewish people in Israel are deadly wrong. Antisemitism is a plot to rid the entire earth of the Jews and their God. The Jewish people are an ongoing reminder to the world of the God who established the proper moral guidelines for all of humanity in the one true monotheistic faith. 

The State of Israel is our only earthly protection. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and acclaimed laureate of the Noble Peace Prize, once said, “Those who thought Jews were frightened of huge armies, and those who thought you could separate the Jewish state from the Jewish people clearly misunderstood us.”


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