New York Times Says Abbas ‘Vilified’ for Challenging Number of Holocaust Victims


the-ny-timesBy Tamar Sternthal

As Israelis marked Holocaust Remembrance Day at ceremonies naming individuals among the 6 million murdered Jews, The New York Times reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has in the past been “vilified” because he “challenged the number of Jewish victims.”

In an article today about Abbas’ statement condemning the Holocaust, Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren writes: “Mr. Abbas has been vilified as a Holocaust denier because in his doctoral dissertation, published as a book in 1983, he challenged the number of Jewish victims and argued that Zionists had collaborated with Nazis to propel more people to what would become Israel.”

This passage is characteristic Times treatment of Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian claims, no matter how specious or unfounded, are treated with neutrality at best, and afforded credibility, at worst. Abbas had written in his dissertation: “it is possible that the number of Jewish victims reached 6 million, but at the same time it is possible that the figure is much smaller – below one million.”

In stating that Abbas “challenged” the fact that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, The Times journalist falsely implies that there may actually have been substance to his claim.

The Times’ deferential language regarding the Palestinian leader’s Holocaust revisionism stands in stark contrast to the paper’s derisive treatment of Israeli leaders who six months ago had provided (correct) figures for Iranian sanctions relief. While Abbas “challenged” the figure of 6 million slaughtered Jews, Israeli officials “appear to have distorted what Iran would get.” (In fact, they didn’t.)

Rudoren’s characterization of Abbas being “vilified” for having “challenged” the number of Holocaust victims is consistent with her editorializing in another article last month. At the time, she unforgettably wrote that Israelis “demonized” Palestinian Muqdad Salah, who had bludgeoned to death the sleeping 72-year-old Holocaust survivor Israel Tenenbaum.

Through The Times’ lens, the Palestinian murderer of a Holocaust survivor is “demonized,” and the Palestinian Holocaust revisionist is “vilified.”

Similarly, in The International New York Times print edition yesterday, the bureau chief refers to “Hamas, the militant Islamic group widely seen in the West as the devil.” (The online edition has by now substituted this bizarre formulation with the relatively neutral description: “the militant Islamic group that is widely reviled in the West.”)

Is Rudoren mocking the West’s antipathy towards Hamas, an organization which is responsible for countless suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and rocket attacks which have killed hundreds, and maimed thousands?

Five paragraphs later, in the seventh paragraph of the article, The Times journalist buries the essential fact that “the United States and Europe have also outlawed [Hamas] as a terrorist organization.”

What justification is there for entirely ignoring the organization’s own deeds and words? The Hamas charter, for instance, exhorts: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stone, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”‘

Thus, while Hamas routinely “demonizes” and “vilifies” Jews, The Times won’t say so.

Even Rudoren’s article early this year about Palestinian incitement, including descriptions of Jews as “barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs,” never says that Palestinians “demonize” or “vilify” Jews or Israelis. Instead, Rudoren blandly refers to the anti-Semitic incitement as “negative statements.”

“Fairness” is a primary value of the Gray Lady. According to its Standards and Ethics guidelines, “The goal of The New York Times is to cover the news as impartially as possible – ‘without fear or favor,’ in the words of Adolph Ochs, our patriarch.”

But so long as Holocaust revisionists and purveyors of genocidal anti-Semitic rhetoric are treated with more deference than Holocaust victims and survivors, Och’s lofty vision remains just that. As long as murderers are treated with more favor than victims, there is extreme partiality.

For now, the “demonized” murderer of a Holocaust survivor, the “vilified” Holocaust revisionist, and Hamas, “seen as the devil,” punctuate The Times’ troubled Israel coverage.

In the real Israel, other victims – loved ones of Israel Tenenbaum, Holocaust survivors, relatives of those fallen in Hamas terror attacks – stand in silence remembering those belittled and forgotten by The Times.




  1. The Times is known to have largely ignored the Holocaust as it happened. I guess they still are afraid to look too Jewish…..

  2. by Laurel Leff
    Laurel Leff is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University and author of Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper published by Cambridge University Press.

    Direct Textbooks Textbook resource center

    What did The New York Times report about the Holocaust and how did its coverage affect America’s response to the Nazi genocide?

    Throughout World War II, the American media published and broadcast timely, detailed, and accurate accounts of what was happening to the Jews in Europe. The New York Times alone printed nearly 1,200 articles about what we have now come to call the Holocaust, about one every other day.

    The articles in the Times and elsewhere described the propagation of anti-Semitic laws in German allied countries; death from disease and starvation of hundreds of thousands in ghettos and labor camps; mass executions in Nazi-occupied Russia; and mass gassings in Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek. The articles also indicated that these were not isolated incidents, but part of a systematic campaign to kill all the Jews in Europe.

    And yet, at the end of the war and for decades afterward, Americans claimed they did not know about the Holocaust as it was happening. How was it possible for so much information to be available in the mass media and yet simultaneously for the public to be ignorant?

    The reason is that the American media in general and the New York Times in particular never treated the Holocaust as an important news story. From the start of the war in Europe to its end nearly six years later, the story of the Holocaust made the Times front page only 26 times out of 24,000 front-page stories, and most of those stories referred to the victims as “refugees” or “persecuted minorities.” In only six of those stories were Jews identified on page one as the primary victims.

    Nor did the story lead the paper, appearing in the right-hand column reserved for the day’s most important news – not even when the concentration camps were liberated at the end of the war. In addition, the Times intermittently and timidly editorialized about the extermination of the Jews, and the paper rarely highlighted it in either the Week in Review or the magazine section.

    What kept American journalists from recognizing the significance of the systematic murder of six million people? Worldwide carnage on an unprecedented scale helped obscure the Jews’ plight. There was also skepticism bred by fake atrocity reports during the previous world war. The Roosevelt Administration’s determination to downplay the news also contributed to the subdued coverage. But the media had enough credible information to treat the news of the extermination of the Jews as important. And the New York Times played a critical role in why it didn’t.

    For no American news organization was better positioned to highlight the Holocaust than the Times, and no American news organization so influenced public discourse by its failure to do so.

    Because of its longtime commitment to international affairs, its willingness to sacrifice advertising rather than articles in the face of a newsprint crunch, and its substantial Jewish readership, the Times was able to obtain and publish more news about what was happening to the Jews than other mainstream newspapers. In addition, Jews of German descent owned the Times and thus knew the fate of family members, some of whom they sponsored to immigrate to the States, some of whom they didn’t. The family’s deep, if not always amicable involvement with the American Jewish community also led the Times to learn much about the Jews’ situation.

    So the New York Times was less likely than other news organizations to miss what was happening to the Jews. But it was also more likely to dismiss its significance. Fearful of accusations of special pleading or dual loyalties, the newspaper hesitated to highlight the news. In addition, the newspaper’s Jewish publisher believed that Jews were neither a racial nor ethnic group, and therefore should not be identified as Jews for any other than religious reasons. He also believed that Americans would only want to help Jews if their cause was melded with that of other persecuted people. He therefore ensured that his paper universalized the Nazis’ victims in editorials and on the front page.

    The result: The New York Times was in touch with European Jews’ suffering, which accounts for its 1,000-plus stories on the Final Solution’s steady progress. Yet, it deliberately de-emphasized the Holocaust news, reporting it in isolated, inside stories. The few hundred words about the Nazi genocide the Times published every couple days were hard to find amidst a million other words in the newspaper. Times readers could legitimately have claimed not to have known, or at least not to have understood, what was happening to the Jews.

    The Times’s judgment that the murder of millions of Jews was a relatively unimportant story also reverberated among other journalists trying to assess the news, among Jewish groups trying to arouse public opinion, and among government leaders trying to decide on an American response. It partly explains the general apathy and inaction that greeted the news of the Holocaust.

    We do not know how many Jews might have been saved had the Times acted differently. We do know, however, that the possibilities for rescue were never truly tested.

    It is also clear that had the Times and other news organizations decided that the extermination of the Jews was important, the paper could have and should have highlighted it, regardless of whether it would have saved lives. The press alone could not have altered the currents of public discourse that swamped the news of the Jews’ destruction, and certainly a single newspaper by itself could not have accomplished that. Still, the Times had a moral and professional obligation to do more than be swept along with the tide.

    – See more at:

  3. there is nothing new in this article. The Times has disqualified itself repeatedly in the past. We have long ago replaced it with the Wall Street Journal which is a truly objective paper. One can of course still take the New York Times to the bathroom – not necessarily to read.

  4. Long ago I Cancelled my subscription to the Times. I have also been succesful in my short sales of its stock.These are the ways to take retribution I invite others to suggest sanctions to be taken by Jews who make up a subststial part of their readership