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August 17, 2015

New York Times: Reporter For Jewish Paper Finds No Anti-Israel Plot in Iran

Iran 2009 Election Protests 07.jpg
Photograph of Iranian protester killed by the Iranian regime's Basij thugs.

The New York Times published a piece on August 13, 2015 conveying the report by a journalist from an "American Jewish pro-Israel publication" that "found little evidence to suggest that Iran wanted to destroy Israel, as widely asserted by critics of the Iranian nuclear agreement."

The journalist, Larry Cohler-Esses, is the assistant managing editor for news at The Forward, a Jewish newspaper that trends left and has been known to feature the views of anti-Zionist Jews. Cohler-Esses paints a relatively benign picture of Iran. In an interview with the Times' Rick Gladstone he stated, "Far from the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic push-and-pull between a theocratic government and its often reluctant and resisting people." Although he found "no one had anything warm to say about the Jewish state" when "pressed as to whether it was Israel's policies or its very existence to which they objected, several were adamant: It's Israel's policies."

What is missing here is factual context and intellectual integrity. It is as if Cohler-Esses and the New York Times operate in a vacuum, devoid of historical awareness or even common sense.

Concerning the metaphor of "push-and-pull" between the Iranian government and its people, there seems to be a lot of pushing, not much pulling. Here is some context from the last "free" elections Iran had:

Human rights campaigners say anecdotal evidence suggests the number of demonstrators killed in clashes with government forces after last month's poll was far higher than the official death toll of 20 and may amount to a "massacre". (July 16, 2009 by the Guardian, a leftist, anti-Israel newspaper)

The United States Institute of Peace published a report on the Green Movement that opposed the theocratic regime that recounts the widespread torture and killing of political activists.

Radio Free Europe published accounts of the regime murdering hundreds of Iranians demonstrating for political freedom.

But it is the contention that it is Israel's policies not its existence that the Iranian leadership objects to that is most dishonest. The evidence of the genocidal intent of the Iranian regime is vast and overwhelming. One tweet from the Ayatollah Khamenei will suffice. On July 23, 2014, the Supreme Leader tweeted, "This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated." The Ayatollah's prescription suggests that his objections to Israel run deeper than just policy complaints.

Gladstone's piece on Cohler-Esses recalls the epithet "useful idiots" often attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but more likely coined during the terror regime of Joseph Stalin.

In a piece recounting a BBC interview with Doris Lessing, herself a self-admitted youthful "useful idiot," Professor Donald Rayfield author of Stalin and his Hangmen, provides a working definition of the term:

The phrase (useful idiots) seems to have been around for about 70 years. It's someone who doesn't think they're an idiot, who thinks they're highly intelligent but is so easily persuaded by flattery from people in power that they're prepared to sacrifice their principles and allow themselves to be duped, or even just to lie, for the sake of advantage.

The term was used in the context of western intellectuals and journalists who served as apologists for the brutal Soviet regime and helped conceal its enormous crimes.

The Times puff piece on Iran is part of this long and unsavory tradition. Among the most famous examples comes from New York Times itself. As famine engulfed the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, the Times star reporter, William Duranty posted dispatches, dutifully published by the Times, with titles like "Russians, Hungry But Not Starving" and "Soviet Industry Shows Big Gains." Although he admitted food was scarce and disease due to hunger had taken a toll, he saw no one starving and impressed upon readers that such claims were exaggerations.

Duranty received a Pulitzer prize for his reporting. Maybe Gladstone and Cohler-Esses have similar aspirations. Or maybe they're just clueless.

Duranty claims to have not seen those who died from starvation, although it is suspected by many that he did know and intentionally concealed this information. But a conservatively estimated 3 million perished in what most credible historians regard as a man-made famine imposed on the Ukrainian peasants and others in order to break their will to resist the Communist regime's absolute control.

Similarly, Cohler-Esses may not have seen the terror imposed on Iranian citizens or the psychopathic hatred of Israel, but it is irresponsible of him - and the Times - to present such a naive and deceptive piece, especially since its timing indicates that it was intended to sway the political debate over the nuclear agreement that is vehemently opposed by Israel and its supporters.

The times have changed, but apparently the Times has not.

Posted by SS at August 17, 2015 01:58 PM


The truly comic part of the NYTimes article is its characterization of the "Forward" as a ". . .pro-Israel publication". I read the "Forward" when it was still only published in Yiddish. As a Socialist oriented newspaper it has been vehemently against even the concept of a "Jewish State"; since its founding in 1917. While it now, begrudgingly, accepts the existence of the Jewish State; virtually all of its coverage is devoted to castigating it and bemoaning the fact that it has failed to become the Socialist Utopia they expected. Calling it "pro-Israel" is equal parts antisemitic canard and Orwellian doublespeak.

Posted by: E benAbuya at August 19, 2015 06:14 PM

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