12 rabbis meet with NYT about antisemitic cartoon and Israel coverage
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12 rabbis meet with NYT about antisemitic cartoon and Israel coverage

Faith leaders from across all major denominations hold meeting with New York Times publisher and editorial page editor over its controversial cartoon

New York Times' 'antisemitic' cartoon
New York Times' 'antisemitic' cartoon

A dozen rabbis from across the major denominations met with the publisher and editorial page editor of The New York Times regarding the antisemitic cartoon it published and its general coverage of Israel.

The meeting Wednesday morning at The Times offices in Midtown Manhattan lasted an hour and a half and was organised through the New York Board of Rabbis, an interdenominational group. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the group’s executive vice president, said A.G. Sulzberger and James Bennet, the publisher and editorial page editor, “owned the problem” of the cartoon being antisemitic.

The cartoon, which was published last month in the opinion section of the paper’s international edition, depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog on a leash leading a blind President Donald Trump. The U.S. leader was drawn wearing a yarmulke and Netanyahu’s collar had a Star of David.

The Times has apologised for the cartoon and published a staff editorial criticising it. The newspaper said it has updated its “unconscious bias” training in the wake of the controversy, disciplined the editor who published the cartoon and dropped the syndication service that provided it.

“It gave everyone an opportunity to express their feelings,” Potasnik said of the meeting. “Everyone was very forthright, very frank about what they felt. … I felt it was a healthy, honest exchange, and that’s what’s necessary.”

Potasnik said the majority of the meeting was spent discussing The Times’ coverage of Israel, which many pro-Israel advocates have long viewed as negative toward the country. He said Sulzberger and Bennet were receptive to the rabbis’ comments, and that the group planned on meeting again.

“It’s the reporting issue,” he said. “What’s the culture at The Times vis a vis Israel? All those issues came up. The cartoon was the beginning of the conversation, but not the majority of it.”

The New York Times declined to comment on the meeting.

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