Why Did a New York City Rabbi Unsubscribe from the New York Times?

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One of New York City’s leading Rabbis has decided to unsubscribe from the New York Times. This summer his “chronic irritation” with the paper’s Israel coverage turned to “visceral disgust,” and he could take it no longer.

Rabbi Richard A. Block explained his decision in Tablet Magazine:

I am a lifelong Democrat, a political liberal, a Reform rabbi, and for four decades, until last week, a New York Times subscriber. What drove me away was the paper’s incessant denigration of Israel, a torrent of articles, photographs, and op-ed columns that consistently present the Jewish State in the worst possible light.

This phenomenon is not new. Knowledgeable observers have long assailed the Times lack of objectivity and absence of journalistic integrity in reporting on Israel. My chronic irritation finally morphed into alienation and then to visceral disgust this summer, after Hamas renewed its terrorist assaults upon Israel and the Times launched what can only be described as a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State.

Block points to the Times’ focus on Palestinian civilian casualties in this summers coverage:

The answers are self-evident to everyone except the New York Times. Its obsessive focus is on Palestinian civilian casualties, especially children, publishing photos of their corpses and little else, as if they tell the whole story. The deaths of innocents in wartime are tragic and heartbreaking; they diminish us all. But a newspaper committed to balance and fairness would provide context and perspective. It would show traumatized Israeli children running to shelters, cowering, wetting their beds, and suffering nightmares. It would publish photos and accounts of militants launching rockets from the roofs of mosques, a church, and a media hotel, alongside schools, refugee shelters, clinics and hospitals, and of weapons concealed by Hamas in UN facilities. It would substantiate casualty figures from Hamas, which is known to have falsified them in the past, before reporting them as fact. It would highlight Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, its urging civilians to ignore Israel’s advance warnings to depart, so that Gazans would be killed and inflict PR damage on Israel. Such a paper would cover the threats of death that inhibited reporters and photojournalists from telling the true, full story. But the Times did not.

What it did instead is revealed by a sample of headlines: “As Israel Hits Mosque and Clinic, Air Campaign’s Risks Come Home;” “Israelis Watch Bombs Drop on Gaza From Front-Row Seats;” “Questions About Tactics and Targets as Civilian Toll Climbs in Israeli Strikes;” “Foreign Correspondents in Israel Complain of Intimidation;” “Israeli Shells are Said to Hit UN School;” “Military Censorship in Israel;” “A Boy at Play in Gaza, a Renewal of War, A Family in Mourning;” “Israel’s Supporters Try to Come to Terms with the Killing of Children in Gaza;” “Israel Braces for War Crimes Inquiries on Gaza;” “Resisting Nazis, He Saw Need for Israel. Now He Is Its Critic.”

Then there are the op-eds: “Israel’s Puppy, Tony Blair;” “Israel’s Bloody Status Quo;” “How the West Chose War in Gaza;” “Darkness Falls on Gaza;” “Israeli Self-Defense Does Not Permit Killing Civilians;” “Israel Has Overreacted to the Threats it Provoked;” “Zionism and Its Discontents;” “U.S. Should Stop Funding Israel, or Let Others Broker Peace;” “Israel’s Colonialism Must End;” “Unwavering Support of Israel Harms U.S. Interests, Encourages Extremism;” “Eight Days in Gaza: A Wartime Diary: Life and Death in the Gaza Strip.” The last column consumed nearly the entire op-ed page.