'Al Jazeera on the Potomac': WaPo Reporter Taylor Lorenz Boosts Defenses of Los Angeles Synagogue Protest

Taylor Lorenz pushed false claim LA synagogue was auctioning Palestinian land

(cropped from Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for
June 25, 2024

Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz on Monday pushed a false claim that a Los Angeles synagogue was auctioning off Palestinian land this week—a conspiracy theory that led to violent, anti-Semitic protests outside the Jewish house of worship on Sunday.

Lorenz—who covers social media for the Post and often complains about being targeted by online harassment—reposted multiple comments on X, formerly Twitter, defending the synagogue protesters, promoting the false allegations, and slamming the media, including her former employer, the New York Times, for failing to give the allegations oxygen. The synagogue was in fact hosting an industry expo on real estate investing in Israel, and the false claims that Adas Torah was selling Palestinian land appear to have originated from radical anti-Israel groups, including Code Pink and the Palestinian Youth Movement, according to social media posts.

The groups posted calls for protesters to "stand against settler expansion at Sunday's real estate event selling homes to build 'Anglo neighborhoods' in Palestine."  Protesters chanted for an "intifada" and called for the eradication of Israel "from the river to the sea," and violent scuffles broke out.

Lorenz retweeted a post from Talia Jane, a New York-based writer, that claimed the synagogue, Adas Torah, "was hosting a sale of Palestinian land, a strange choice for a place of worship that seems intended to make protests against the land sales look like they're targeting a place of worship for no reason." Jane also denied the protests were anti-Semitic because some of the demonstrators were supposedly Jewish.

Lorenz also reposted a complaint by Assaf Rad, who has worked as a research director at the National Iranian American Council and who said that "every major Western outlet frames this like an attack on a synagogue, while leaving out the part where the synagogue was hosting an event to sell illegally occupied Palestinian land." Rad has previously accused Israel of "genocide" and "apartheid."

In addition, Lorenz reposted Alec Karakatsanis, who claimed that a New York Times article about the synagogue protest "omitted that the location was being protested because it was hosting a mega-event on the sale of Palestinian land." Karakatsanis is an anti-police activist who has accused Israel of "land theft, authoritarianism, and massacres of children."

Lorenz has been less sanguine about the harassment of journalists, asking her followers on X to "consider supporting women enduring online harassment."

"It's not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I've had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life. No one should have to go through this," she added. She dissolved into tears while discussing the matter during a 2022 MSNBC interview.

In a separate incident this week, Lorenz also defended former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman Briahna Joy Gray’s remarks that the media should report on "Israel training dogs to rape Palestinian prisoners," another unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.

Lorenz said this was a "claim that’s being reported all over X," and Gray was "just asking if any U.S. papers have investigated the claims."

"It’s not like she’s asking about some random thing, it’s been a major topic of discussion on X all day."

Lorenz's social media posts come as the Post has faced allegations of anti-Israel bias in its journalism. Last week, the Washington Free Beacon reported that at least six reporters on the Post's foreign desk previously worked for Al Jazeera, the Qatari state-run news outlet that often serves as a mouthpiece for Hamas propaganda. The Post's embattled CEO, Will Lewis, has also reportedly clashed with the paper's executive editor, Sally Buzbee, over the "tone of the paper’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas War, which [Lewis] and others inside the paper viewed as having an anti-Israel bias," according to Puck News. Lewis's observation, according to Puck, led members of the Post's foreign desk, led by Doug Jehl, to formulate a "plan to investigate both Lewis and [Robert] Winnett to see if they could unearth unflattering information about the two men's history in the U.K."

Winnett, whom Lewis picked to succeed Buzbee as the paper's executive editor, last week withdrew his name from consideration after heated pushback from staff.

During Sunday's violent protest—which was widely condemned as anti-Semitic for targeting a Jewish house of worship, with President Joe Biden calling it "dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American"—one individual was arrested for carrying a spiked flag, according to reports.

Noah Pollak, a pro-Israel activist and Washington Free Beacon contributor, was at Adas Torah attending the real estate expo when the protest broke out. He said the event featured booths with Israeli realtors advertising apartments and houses in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Eilat, and other communities within the State of Israel.

"There was no 'Palestinian land' for sale," said Pollak.

"Lorenz didn't make up this claim herself. She got it from somewhere—specifically, from the Hamas supporters who organized the pogrom," he said. "Lorenz promoted this lie uncritically, of course having done no actual reporting herself. The Washington Post has become Al Jazeera on the Potomac."

Neither Lorenz nor a spokeswoman for the Washington Post responded to a request for comment.