The editors respond: It has come to our attention that some readers are not reading Neil Lewis’s excellent piece because they’re offended by the art, which those readers see as a caricature of a Jew. We are sorry that anyone was offended, and if we had it to do over, we’d have chosen a different drawing. A fuller note about the image is at www.cjr.org/the_kicker/an_image_reconsidered.php.
In the 1980s, when I was based in Paris, CBS News sent me down to Israel to fill in for the resident correspondent, Bob Simon. After I’d produced a couple of stories that the government clearly did not like, Zev Chafets, then Menahem Begin’s press counselor, called me in and asked how someone like me could present stories like this about his own people. Americans? I asked, surprised. No, Jews. I explained that I was an American correspondent and was there anything inaccurate in any of my reports? Not the point, Chafets replied, and let that hang. Later that evening, as it happened, I had dinner with David K. Shipler, an old friend from my Times days, who said that eventually they would just write me off as a Jewish anti-Semite, though I probably would not be in the country long enough for them to come to that conclusion. He remarked on how astonished they were when he revealed to them that he was not Jewish, and so needed another ploy!
David A. Andelman
Editor, World Policy Journal
New York, NY
Recently, but perhaps after Neil A. Lewis submitted his article, Thomas L. Friedman declared in his Times column that the very favorable reception given Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu by Congress was purchased by the Israel lobby. This nasty comment is, I believe, typical of the New York Times’s mindset on Israel.
Lewis did not point out that Adolph S. Ochs joined prominent American Jews in a statement after World War I declaring opposition to a Jewish State in Palestine. Lewis did not mention the May 18,1939 Times editorial supporting Britain’s decision to close Palestine to Jewish immigration. The Times carried three editorials on the St. Louis affair—none called on President Roosevelt to allow this ship, carrying Jewish refugees turned away from Cuba, to land in an American port. The last editorial on this matter, June 14, 1930, declared that the days of mass migration to the United States were over.
Lewis seems to concede that, concerning Holocaust reporting, The New York Times did not provide “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Indeed, it would not be unreasonable, I think, to extrapolate from this that the Times has some difficulty taking note of imperiled Jewry, generally. This difficulty, rather more than the speaking or political accents of Israel’s leaders, might explain the paper’s problem in providing straight reporting on the Arab-Israel War—now in its sixty-fourth year. And however much Lewis would contend that criticism of the paper’s reporting about Israel is unwarranted, he offers no specific cases, cases that, however, do not go unnoticed by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), mentioned briefly by Lewis.
David R. Zukerman
On Israel, the Times plays it fairly straight for the American press—a lot more pro-Israel than the international and some Israeli press, a lot more anti-Israel than, say, the National Review. And journalists? No matter who you are or how reasonable your perspective is, if you are accurately reporting the facts in this conflict, you will likely be accused of being a filthy Zionist half the time and an anti-Semite the other half.
Re: “The Girl Who Loved Journalists” by Eric Alterman (CJR, January/February). I believe the reason we haven’t seen an argument for “the books’ value as illustrations of both the difficulties and the importance of the journalistic profession” is because it’s a pretty weak argument. Blomkvist succeeds via illegal means—through the talents of a gifted hacker named Salander who has a photographic memory and other superhuman intellectual powers. It’s tricky to celebrate these books/movies as great PR for journalism because they are fraught with ethical problems. We shouldn’t hack into the hard drives of suspicious characters. Or their cell phones, as I used to think everyone knew. I don’t think readers/viewers of the Dragon Tattoo franchise walk away with admiration of journalists and journalism so much as they do with adoration of Salander the Superhacker Feminist Vigilante. But, alas, she is pure fantasy.