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What Nicholas Kristof Is Hiding From His New York Times Readers

US Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) speaks to media during a Senate vote, at the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, May 2, 2024. Photo: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

As part of the New York Times‘ regular ongoing series of Sunday opinion section logorrheic attacks on Israel, Nicholas Kristof recently weighed in with a super-long article that added precisely nothing to what everyone already knew about the events in the Middle East and Kristof’s view of them.

To fill out an article as long as Kristof’s without any original thought required a lot of reporting, and Kristof was determined to demonstrate that he did that, padding the piece with quotations from an endless parade of people who he described as experts.

Yet many the people Kristof quoted were longtime critics of Israel and its elected government, or just people who agreed with Kristof.

Kristof quoted US Sen. Chris Van Hollen, identifying him only as “a Maryland Democrat and foreign policy expert.” Yet since the Hamas terror group’s massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, Van Hollen has gone off the deep end. A Baltimore Jewish Times editorial recently reported, “Van Hollen’s relentless attacks against Israel have been so offensive that they recently prompted an unprecedented public letter of reprimand from nearly 80 Maryland rabbis from across the state and denominational affiliations expressing deep concern about Van Hollen and his pronouncements. In the rabbis’ words, they are ‘aghast’ at Van Hollen’s anti-Israel rhetoric.”

The editorial derided Van Hollen’s “self-righteous spewing of anti-Israel accusations and positions.” It concluded, “We face the uncomfortable reality that Chris Van Hollen is not our friend.” Kristof didn’t mention any of that.

Kristof also quoted “Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat,” without letting readers in on the context that Merkley was widely lambasted for alleged antisemitism in publishing a social media post on Easter that said, “On this Easter, let’s ponder [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, which has killed more than 20,000 women and children, and his restriction of humanitarian aid, which has pushed Palestinians to the brink of famine.” Kristof quit his Times column in 2021 to attempt to run for governor of Oregon as a Democrat, and Merkley was a senior figure in the Oregon Democratic Party.

Kristof also mentioned “Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the University of Maryland.” Yet Telhami was urging sanctions threats against “apartheid” Israel back in May 2023, long before the Hamas-Israel war. Kristof didn’t mention that context to readers, either.

Kristof quoted Menachem Rosensaft, identifying him only as “a Cornell law professor and general counsel emeritus of the World Jewish Congress.” Rosensaft has a distinguished record of service to the Jewish people, but it’s also worth noting that he met with Yasser Arafat in 1988 and was criticized at the time; the New York Times reported back then, “The Americans meeting with Mr. Arafat have been criticized by some Jewish organizations and the Israeli government as unrepresentative of all Jews and for being exploited by Mr. Arafat in his effort to fashion a moderate image for the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization].”

Kristof quoted both Martin Indyk and Aaron David Miller, but not their fellow peace-processor Dennis Ross, who has a similar background of government service but who tends to be less publicly critical of Israel and of its wartime allies.

In short, Kristof’s sources and his descriptions of them were flawed.

Just as misleading was Kristof’s basic analytical framework. The column was headlined “What Happened to the Joe Biden I Knew?” It asked why Biden was “against the Darfur genocide and humanitarian crisis two decades ago” yet has demonstrated “complicity in the cataclysm of Gaza.”

What Kristof entirely omitted was the humanitarian crisis that unfolded in Syria during the Obama-Biden administration. It would be hard to chalk the US inaction then up to Biden’s supposed pro-Israel bent. Yet Kristof ignored that case entirely. Maybe what happened to Biden was that he was against humanitarian crises when they could be conveniently blamed on Republican administrations, or when he was not in the White House as president or vice president.

Or maybe the truth isn’t quite so partisan. Perhaps Biden truly understands somehow, correctly, that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is mainly the fault of Iran-backed Hamas, not Israel or the US. If so, then he’s more perceptive than Nicholas Kristof, who for all his Pulitzer Prizes and Harvard and Oxford degrees, has a vision of the US-Israel relationship that is as predictable, skewed, and self-righteous as too many of his sources.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A pro-Israel advocacy group is attempting to quell fears among US Democratic politicians that expressing support for the Jewish state amid the ongoing war in Gaza will lead to electoral defeat in November. 

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic Party, circulated a memo this week explaining that the war in Gaza is simply not a top priority for most of the electorate. The memo, first acquired by Axios news website, asserts that “it just isn’t true” that Democratic support for Israel will come at an electoral cost. 

The group argues that a series of misleading polls has caused Democratic elected officials to become more tepid in their support for the Jewish state. 

To bolster its claims, DMFI points to a poll conducted by the New York Times in May which revealed that only 2 percent of voters cite Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, or Gaza as their most important issue. Nonetheless, the Times tried to exaggerate the extent to which voters care about the Israel-Hamas war by highlighting the 5 percent of voters who cite foreign policy as their biggest issue, according to DMFI. However, these 5 percent of voters did not identify if the war in Gaza is their major foreign policy concern.

The group also points out a Harvard-Harris poll from April which showed that Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel in its ongoing war effort. Eighty percent of Americans support Israel and only 20 percent back Hamas, the poll revealed.

DMFI also suggests that Israel’s ongoing military offensive against Hamas has not had a noticeable impact on President Joe Biden’s national standing. According to polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, the president’s approval rating on Oct. 7of last year stood at 39.6 percent, and on April 23 last month, his approval stood at 40 percent. The same poll reveals that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden did not grow over the same time period. 

DMFI president Mark Mellman told Axios that anti-Israel activists represent a small fringe of the American electorate. 

“People sometimes mistake volume for percentage, and the fact that some people are very loud doesn’t make them the majority. … It doesn’t even make them a substantial minority,” Mellman said.

The group’s efforts to reach out to Democrats come on the heels of a high-pressure effort by left-wing groups to force the Democratic establishment to stop supporting Israel. Anti-Israel organizations have organized efforts to encourage voters in Democratic primaries to vote “uncommitted” in lieu of voting for Biden. Moreover, nearly every appearance by Biden in recent months has been marked by the presence of scores of angry anti-Israel protesters

The relationship between Democratic politicians and the Jewish state has significantly soured in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people in southern Israel. High-profile Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) have suggested that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) signed onto a letter urging Biden to pause weapons shipments to Israel. Biden vowed to stop arms deliveries to Israel if the Israeli army attempts to dismantle the remaining Hamas battalions within the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, expressing concern about the prospect of civilian casualties during such an offensive.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

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‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

When producers from the New York Times podcast “The Daily” posted on social media looking for “Jewish students who represent a range of feelings and experiences, from being enthusiastically pro Palestinian to enthusiastically pro Israel, and everything in between,” I replied, “This is a trap! They’ll use the ‘pro-Palestinian’ (the polite term they use for the ones who want to wipe Israel off the map) ones to make it sound like the Jewish community is divided and give listeners the illusion that the anti-Israel protests aren’t antisemitic.”

Sure enough, the Times podcast episode that finally aired, headlined, “The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves,” included three students.

Mustafa Yowell, of Irving, Texas, said his mother was from “Nablus, Palestine” and described himself as a Palestinian Arab. He’s a student at the University of Texas, Austin who complained to the Times that “two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers had infiltrated the campus.” By “IDF soldiers” he meant Israeli students at the university who had, like many Israelis, served in the army before college.

The second student interviewed, Elisha Baker, a student at Columbia University, described himself as a proud Zionist and a graduate of Jewish day school.

And the third student, Jasmine Jolly, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, described herself as the daughter of a Catholic father and “of Ashkenazi descent on my mom’s side.” Jolly showed up at protests with a sign that said “in honor of my Jewish ancestors, I stand with Palestine.” Jolly also chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“There’s nothing that has come across to me as antisemitic if you are able to pause and remember that Israel is not Jewish people and Zionism is not Jewish people,” Jolly explained to the Times audience.

Jolly read an email from her Jewish grandfather claiming, “Israel is an increasingly apartheid state.”

This is just such a misleading view of reality on campus and in American Jewish life. Even polls like Pew that use an expansive definition of who is Jewish find overwhelming Jewish support for Israel and negligible support for Hamas, including among younger Jews 18 to 34.

In reality, a lot of the anti-Israel protesters aren’t even Palestinians; they are European or Asian students or white or black Americans who either have been brainwashed by their professors or who have underlying, pre-existing antisemitic attitudes. Few of them have been to the Middle East and many of them are ignorant about basic facts about it — remember the Wall Street Journal piece, “From Which River to Which Sea?

“The Daily” episode made it crisply concrete, with the Times representing Jews as being split 50-50, with one normative Jew and one Jew chanting “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” That’s ridiculous, yet a similar approach contaminates other Times coverage of the Jewish community, misleadlingly portraying American Jewry as deeply divided rather than unified around the goals of getting the hostages back, eliminating the threat of Hamas, and making American college campuses safe for Jewish students.

The Times was at this game well before Oct. 7, 2023, proclaiming “the unraveling of American Zionism” and trotting out old chestnuts such as the Reform movement’s Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 and the New York Times‘ favorite Jew, Peter Beinart.

I find myself rolling my eyes at such depictions, but there is clearly some audience for them among the Times readership and top editorial ranks. The Times executive editor, Joe Kahn, told Semafor’s Ben Smith in a May interview, “I’m not an active Jew.” Maybe the New York Times can sell sweatshirts: “Inactive Jew.” Who, exactly, is supposed to find that distinction between “active” and “inactive” Jews reassuring? Maybe they can put it on top of the front page in place of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”: “Edited by someone who wants the public to know he’s not an active Jew.”

Of all the moments to choose to distance oneself publicly from the Jewish people, this is sure quite one to choose.

This “Daily” episode seems calculated to appeal to the inactive Jews, and to others who want justification to believe it’s not antisemitic to set up on Passover and falsely accuse Israel of genocide. It’s nice for the Times to include a Zionist voice on the program, but he wound up sandwiched in between a Palestinian and an “only one solution, intifada revolution” person. It’s fairly typical for the New York Times these days, but it isn’t pretty.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. He also writes at

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