The New York Times was accused of anti-Semitism on Thursday after publishing a list of lawmakers who voted against the Iran deal that included the columns “Jewish?” and “State and estimated Jewish population.” Jewish lawmakers and those who represent a district with a larger Jewish population than the U.S. average were singled out further with a yellow highlight:
Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats anti-Semitism, told the Washington Free Beacon that the chart plays into stereotypes of “Jewish pressure” and “Jewish money” influencing the vote on the Iran agreement adding, “It’s a grotesque insult to the intelligence of the people who voted for and will vote against [the deal].” Many Twitter users had a similar reaction:
Slate’s Joshua Keating argued that while the Times handled the subject poorly, it was relevant to note how Jewish lawmakers voted, just as articles on U.S.–Cuba policy mention that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bob Menendez are Cuban-American. “It seems willfully obtuse to pretend that the position of the Israeli government and the views of at least a prominent faction of the American Jewish community aren’t a factor in this debate,” he wrote.
Aside from the debate over singling out Jewish politicians, others took issue with how the paper addressed the criticism. The “Jewish?” column has been omitted, but there is no explanation for the change, other than a note that the article was updated at 6:42 p.m. on Thursday. The following line was also added to the introduction: “Though more Jewish members of Congress support the deal than oppose it, of the 23 Democrats against the deal, 15 are Jewish.” However, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, only eight Democrats who oppose the deal are Jewish.
The accompanying article originally explained that the debate over the deal “divided Democrats between their loyalties to the president and their constituents, especially Jewish ones … ” but now it says “The debate divided Democrats between their loyalties to the president and to their constituents … ”
While the Times recently took flak for taking several days to explain significant changes to articles about Hillary Clinton’s email, so far the only acknowledgment of the changes has come from Jonathan Weisman, the paper’s deputy Washington editor, on Twitter: