New York Times Slams Its Own Pulitzer-Prize Winning Photographer In Gaza

Says Legendary Photojournalist Tyler Hicks is Bad at His Job

An Israeli soldier runs infront of an Israeli Merkava tank at an army deployment area on the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, on August 1, 2014. (Getty Images)

If you have ever wondered why the New York Times photo coverage from Gaza has almost exclusively consisted of dead and bleeding Palestinian children in Shifa Hospital, with nary a Hamas gunman or missile launch from a school or a mosque to fill out the narrative of events on the ground, the newspaper of record has an astonishing answer: Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Tyler Hicks really sucks at his job.

For anyone who knows anything about photojournalism, the Times’s answer raises some very serious questions about the sanity of the people who are running the newspaper, as well as the paper’s loyalty to one of the greatest photographers of his era who has put his life at risk for the newspaper time and time again in global hot spots and conflict zones. (more…)

The Ding Dong Derby, Week 2

More of the shallowest, least thoughtful commentators of the week


It’s been a busy week for ding dongs. Observing the war unfurling in Gaza, the best and brightest in the press, like so many Clarissas, have come up with many fun stories that explain it all. My favorite remains the obsession over whether the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were slain by members of a Hamas terrorist cell or a breakaway Hamas terrorist cell, as if the minute distinction somehow absolved Hamas of involvement or make it any less of a maniacal, murderous organization. As you could expect of ding dongs, some incarnations of this tale featured not only shoddy thinking but shoddy journalism as well, with sensationalist headlines contradicting the very facts begrudgingly reported within.

But never mind that. And never mind how little we’ve heard of the accounts of western journalists returning from Gaza and reporting Hamas’s intimidation and lies. That’s not what the Ding Dong Derby’s about. Here, we deal strictly with the worst of the worst. Here they are. (more…)

Voices From Gaza: Ahmed Asmar

‘Every two minutes, we hear a bombardment’


Ahmed Asmar is a freelance journalist who lives in Gaza City. I reached him by phone at his home Thursday morning. “Every two minutes, we hear a bombardment,” he told me. As if to complete a prophecy, an Israeli missile landed and detonated 30 meters, he guessed, from his building, in the  middle of our conversation. I heard a loud boom, and then sirens, and people shouting. He ended our conversation in order to assist casualties. We picked up later when he was at his parents’ home on a relatively quiet street.

Conditions in Gaza are worsening. On Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike hit Gaza’s only power plant, engulfing it in flames and forcing it to shut down. Accompanying the lack of electricity is a lack of clean water; Gaza’s water is brackish and has to be treated through electrical pumps. Without electricity, the residents of the Gaza Strip are reliant upon UN-distributed bottled water. Footage has begun to emerge of entire neighborhoods razed to the ground. “Families have been deleted from national record,” Asmar said. “The father, the mother, and all the children, they no longer exist.” (more…)

Ceasefire Crumbles as Hamas Abducts Israeli Soldier

Kills two in surprise attack Friday morning

A general view shows the damaged minaret of a mosque in Al-Salam neighbourhood, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on August 1, 2014. (Getty Images)

An IDF officer was kidnapped and two others killed Friday morning, as Hamas attacked Israeli forces an hour and a half after a U.N./U.S.-brokered 72-hour ceasefire took effect, the Israeli military reported.

The captive soldier was named by the IDF as Sec.-Lt Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old Givati Brigade officer from Kfar Saba. His family has been notified. The White House condemned the breach of the ceasefire by Hamas as “barbaric.” Prime Minister Netanyahu phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and told him that Hamas will bear the consequences for this “gross violation” of the ceasefire. (more…)

Why You Should Watch ‘Funny Girl’

Rediscovering the relevance of a Streisand classic


I confess: during my first week interning at Tablet this summer, I had to ask about the origin of the phrase “Hello, Gorgeous” that was printed on the tote bags hanging at the front of the office.

I know; it’s shameful. But I can explain … sort of. I was born in 1995, and that makes me a member of the generation that first heard “Don’t Rain On My Parade” not from Barbra Streisand but from Rachel Berry in an episode of Glee. For some odd reason, Funny Girl, once a staple of Jewish popular culture, has stayed largely off my radar—and the same is true for my college-age Jewish peers. Last weekend, I decided that this had to change. I would not be uninformed any longer. I would watch Funny Girl. (more…)

Meet Marc Weitzmann

The author of Tablet’s ‘France’s Toxic Hate’ series discusses his background


This week marked the third installment of Marc Weitzmann’s timely five-part series, France’s Toxic Hate, which catalogs the rise of anti-Semitism in the country. Here, Weitzmann shares a bit about his own family history and his personal experiences living in France, and how they led him to write about anti-Jewish prejudice.

How far back does your family’s history in France go? 

Part of my family is originally from Ukraine—they left around 1880, en route for New York, but the boat stopped in Marseille because of the Typhus epidemic, if I remember correctly, and that’s how they ended up becoming French. (more…)

16,000 Israeli Reservists Called Up

Netanyahu vows to press on until tunnel threat eliminated

Israeli soldiers rest after returning from combat in the Gaza Strip at the deployment area along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on July 31, 2014. (Getty Images)

The IDF called up an additional 16,000 reservists on Wednesday night, bringing the total number of reservists marshaled since the start of Operation Protective Edge to 86,000.

They will be part of force rotations and deployed not only to swap out soldiers already deployed to Gaza, but also to the West Bank and the northern border, allowing soldiers there to join the front lines in the south.

Fighting continued in Gaza on the 24th day of the operation, as Israeli infantrymen shot and killed a Hamas gunman as he emerged from an attack tunnel. (more…)

Remembering the Sinti and Roma of Auschwitz

On August 2, 1944, Nazis liquidated the concentration camp’s Gypsy section

German police guard a group of Roma who have been rounded up for deportation to Poland. Germany, 1940-1945. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Lydia Chagoll)

At twilight on the evening of Aug. 2, 1944, big, wood-sided trucks arrived at the Gypsy family camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The prisoners were given sausage and a piece of bread and told that they were being taken to another camp. At first, the trucks drove off in a different direction from the gas chambers and crematoria, but as they doubled back toward the killing factories, the Gypsies began to struggle and fight the guards. “Betrayal!” they screamed. “Murder!”

A Hungarian Jew who heard the clamor from a nearby barrack later said that the memory made her blood run cold. “We heard yelling, German orders, the ever, ever-present German Shepherd dogs barking,” she recalled. “And then, screaming. I never, ever forget that screaming. Terrible screams. They must have known.” (more…)

Why Europe Has Trouble Fighting Anti-Semitism

Three reasons it has difficulty facing up to anti-Jewish hate

A rioters throws a projectile at French riot police officers in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, after clashes following a demonstration denouncing Israel's military campaign in Gaza. (Getty Images)

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. Public expressions of Jew-hatred tend to spike when Israel is at war, but this round has been exceptionally nasty. In France, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have descended into full-blown riots and pogroms, with synagogues firebombed and Jewish neighborhoods ransacked; German streets have been filled with cries of “Jews to the gas!”; and abuse on social media has simply been too rife to quantify.

European leaders have begun to understand the gravity of the crisis. The German, French, and Italian foreign ministers have issued a joint declaration condemning anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks. Leading German tabloid Bild ran the headline “Never Again Jew Hatred!” last week, featuring denunciations from leading public figures. And the French government took the extraordinary step of attempting to ban several pro-Palestine rallies for fear of further eruptions of violence.

But across Europe’s vestigial Jewish communities, there is a sense that non-Jews just don’t get it. After all, none of this is new. Indeed, the heightened security around synagogues and Jewish schools is so commonplace that Jews have become accustomed to it. In France, public displays of anti-Semitism—and acts of violence—were on the rise long before this latest Gaza war. So, why is anti-Semitism overlooked by many Europeans until it explodes into view at moments like these? There are three key reasons. (more…)

Bel Kaufman Muses on the Benefits of Being 100

Celebrated author and Yiddish scion passes away at 103

) 'The Nannies' Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin pose with Bel Kaufman (C) during Marymount Manhattan Writing Center Anniversary Party on March 12, 2003 in New York City. (Getty Images)

This past Friday, Bel Kaufman passed away at 103. She was the grande dame of the Upper East Side, a former schoolteacher, author of the 60s classic Up the Down Staircase—and the granddaughter of celebrated Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. Kaufman was born on May 10, 1911, in Berlin, and spent her childhood in my own home city of Odessa. After the family was forced to flee during the Russian Revolution, they settled in the Bronx in 1923, when Kaufman was 12 years old. She studied education at Hunter College, graduated in 1934, then obtained a master’s degree in English from Columbia University, ultimately launching her successful literary career while serving as a substitute teacher.

Two years ago, I was in the middle of making a documentary film about my husband’s family friend, the great Russian-born Jewish violinist Nina Beilina. Bel, active to the last, kindly agreed to appear in a crucial scene with Nina and spent the afternoon with us. (more…)

Remembering Margot Adler

NPR anchor passes away at 68


Known and admired for her deft reporting on topics ranging from the KKK to Hurricane Sandy, NPR’s Margot Adler died earlier this week after a three-and-a-half-year bout with cancer. She started out at as the host of “Hour of the Wolf,” a show about sci-fi writers on WBAI in New York City, before joining NPR where, among other achievements, she landed the first radio interview in the country with J.K. Rowling—the brains behind Harry Potter. She was the granddaughter of Alfred Adler, the Viennese psychoanalyst who became one of Freud’s rivals.

According to the New York Times, Margot Adler was “a self-described Wiccan high priestess who adhered to the tradition for more than 40 years,” and wrote the influential Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America. Adler explained later that her attraction to neo-paganism had very much to do with its ties to feminism and the natural world. (more…)

Brooks, Stephens Get it Just Right

Getting to the bottom of what the war in Gaza is about

An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155mm shell towards targets from their position near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 30, 2014. (Getty Images)

Thinking their way through the recent war in Gaza, even observers usually blessed with a keener eye seem to be succumbing to a foggy confusion over what we’re fighting for, who’s to blame, and what’s at stake. Prime examples are here and here. That’s why it was so refreshing to receive a double dose of superbly clear analysis yesterday morning in America’s two major newspapers.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the indispensible Bret Stephens gave his column just the right title: “Palestine makes you dumb.” (more…)

Project Offers Fresh Glimpse Into Jewish Krakow

‘Snapshot’ highlights traces of the city’s past using Polaroid-style frames

Graffiti reading Radość / Smutek (Joy / Sadness) framed on the corner of Plac Nowy, a trendy square known as the Jewish Square in Krakow, Poland. (Photos by the author)

On a Thursday morning earlier this month, a group of 12 people gathered in front of Krakow’s Jewish Community Centre, ready to explore the city’s Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, with a fresh gaze. We were led by Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, the creative minds behind “Snapshot—Urban Project,” which debuted at this year’s 24th annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. Different sized cardboard Polaroid-style frames were distributed, and smaller groups were tasked with ‘framing’ details of the neighborhood that may be overlooked, interesting, or symbolic.

“The goal is to make Kazimierz a gallery for everyone,” said Czernek. “After today it’ll still be there for people who didn’t take part.” (more…)

A Bibi-Obama Transcript, and No End in Sight

Day 23 of Operation Protective Edge

smoke rises from the coastal side of the Gaza strip following an Israeli air strike on July 30, 2014. (Getty Images)

Diplomacy had yet to make a dent in the fighting on Wednesday, as the death toll continued to climb in the Gaza Strip and Israel on the 23rd day of Operation Protective Edge.

On Wednesday afternoon, three soldiers were killed in a blast in a booby-trapped building near Khan Younis, bringing the number of soldiers killed in the operation to 56. 15 more were hurt by the collapse of a wall of the building after the explosion.

Estimates of Palestinians killed Wednesday were around 100 as Israel carried out a number of strikes across the Strip. One of these strikes was an alleged attack on a market in the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya and another incident in which 15 died after Israel reportedly shelled a UN school in the Strip. The Palestinian death toll has now climbed to over 1,100, with thousands wounded, according to officials in Gaza. (more…)

Mika Brzezinski Welcomes Viewers to ‘Morning Jew’

And a challenge for our readers


We all–I should hope–remember the terrific Woody Allen riff in Annie Hall about hearing anti-Semitism everywhere. He is walking along trying to persuade his friend, played by Tony Roberts (whom I think I once saw eating in a deli with Joel Grey, but never mind) that he overheard somebody say, “Jew eat”–instead of “Did you eat?” Hilarity ensures.

Well, the kosher chicken, its fat deliciously rendered as gribenes, has come home to roost at MSNBC, where this morning co-host Mika Brzezinski referred to her own show, just moments after interviewing the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., as “Morning Jew.” Check it out: (more…)

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