The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

The New York Times Continues its Dishonest Assault on the Trump Executive Order on Antisemitism

This is really getting ridiculous, and I'd be embarrassed for the Times if I thought its editors were capable of being embarrassed these days


The Times has a piece today suggesting the order has "divided" the Jewish community, even though all mainstream groups, including liberal groups like the ADL, support it.

First, the Times managed to find two prominent Reform rabbis who still have not gotten the memo that the initial Times' reporting on this was misleading. As I've explained previously, contra the initial Times story, (a) the Order doesn't define Jews as a nationality; and (b) the policy it embraces is no different than policy under the Obama and Bush administrations, in holding that Jews are protected from discrimination under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when others perceive them to be the equivalent of a race or nationality and discriminate against them on that basis.

The Times quotes Rabbi Hara Person, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as follows: "Not to overdramatize, but it feels dangerous," she said. "I've heard people say this feels like the first step toward us wearing yellow stars." That's not just overdramatizing, that's completely absurd.

Plus this, "This is deeply objectionable, going back centuries in anti-Semitic thinking," said Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel, who leads Temple Micah, a Reform congregation in Washington.

The Times adds, "The politics of the executive order seemed clear when it was signed on Wednesday. Attending the signing ceremony were prominent Jews and evangelical Christians, Democrats and Republicans, and some big-name donors." No mention that many big-name Democrats supported the order, many of whom absented themselves from the signing only because of the optics given the ongoing impeachment drama.

The article gets somewhat less obviously tendentious further on, and even notes–for the first time in the Times's coverage of the Order–that the Obama administration had an equivalent policy. OTOH, treating the far-left Rabbi Jill Jacobs of the tiny but loud T'ruah as if she runs a mainstream "liberal" organization is a bit much, and the overall tenor of the piece is that there is some raging debate among American Jews whether it's okay for the president to sign an executive order formalizing favorable policy to combat antisemitism that is supported by even liberal mainstream Jewish organizations and basically reasserts Obama administration policy that no one objected to in 2010.

The real story here is that there is a segment of the Jewish community inclined to freak out over anything the Trump administration does that has anything to do with Jews and that the Times, through its dishonest and misleading reporting, has been intentionally encouraging it. (Note: There is a segment of the Jewish community, generally on the urban and Reform side of things, that treats the Times and its reporting as Torah, i.e., "gospel.")