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Why Doesn’t the Times Care About European Jews?

Solicits stories about harassment from Muslims only*

Liel Leibovitz
January 15, 2015
Armed soldiers patrol outside a school in the Jewish quarter of the Marais district on January 13, 2015 in Paris, France. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Armed soldiers patrol outside a school in the Jewish quarter of the Marais district on January 13, 2015 in Paris, France. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

*Sometime today, the Times changed the headline on this feature from “Share Your Experience as a Muslim in Europe” to “Share Your Experience After the Paris Attacks.” As of 5:20 p.m. Thursday, the text of the piece issues the same call, initially directed to Muslims, to Europeans more broadly.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks last week, the New York Times is understandably interested in hearing about the experiences of minorities in Europe these days. That is commendable. It’s just the kind of journalism that sheds light on everyday life of people facing adversity the world over. It’s important and informative and insightful, and we applaud it, and look forward to reading it.

Scratch that. Actually, the Times is obsessively interested in the experiences of only one minority group in Europe: Muslims.

To that end, the paper has issued a call to its Muslim readers abroad to share their experiences.

“The deadly attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French newspaper that lampooned Islam, and a kosher grocery store heightened tensions in Europe, where the increasing radicalization of young Muslims appears to coincide with a growing anti-Islamic sentiment.”

It’s hard to understand the paper’s continuing obsession, in their surveys and on their editorial page, with the mortal threat of “Islamophobia”—a dubious term that lumps together actual crimes with thought-crimes, like reprinting the cover of Charlie Hebdo—when the people being harassed, beaten, and murdered in Europe these days are Jews. This is especially true when the people doing the harassing, beating and killing are Islamists.

While no sane and intelligent person confuses radical Islamists with the majority of Muslims living in Europe or elsewhere, that doesn’t mean that radical Islamists aren’t violent bigots who are killing people, or that Jews aren’t the special targets of their ideologically-driven bigotry. Turning Muslims into the victims of a wave of violent attacks that haven’t actually taken place yet—and will hopefully never happen—substitutes what the Times apparently believes to be a more politically correct version of the unpleasant reality that exists in the streets of Europe today. To do so while the victims of the latest round of Islamist killings are still being mourned by their families is downright ugly.

It unfortunately bears repeating that the basic job of any great newspaper is not to censor reality—by refusing to print the cover of Charlie Hebdo, and by airbrushing out the Jews from its portraits of victimhood and photoshopping in European Muslims instead. It is to report the truth without fear or favor. Yet despite the noxious behavior of its editors, the Times still employs some of the greatest reporters in the world. So why not let them do their jobs?

If the main targets of racial and religious violence in France, Britain, Sweden and other counties are Jews—despite the relatively tiny size of those Jewish communities—why not ask European Jews, too, to share their feelings? With anti-Semitic attacks in France soaring 90 percent in 2014, and with French Jews falling victim everything from assaults on synagogues to brutal rapes to mass murder, shouldn’t the Times be interested in their stories as well? Shouldn’t the paper of record care about England’s Jews, where last July alone brought with it 302 anti-Semitic incidents, 21 of them violent attacks?

That the Times cares only about the experiences of Muslims—particularly when anti-Muslim incidents, even in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, remain isolated events—is mind-boggling. This is no longer the soft sort of bias that is inevitably embedded in every human undertaking. This is a deliberate omission that suggests that, as far as the Times is concerned, Jews cannot be victims, even in Europe. And that, pure and simple, is bigotry.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.