12 rabbis meet New York Times to discuss anti-Semitic cartoon, Israel coverage
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12 rabbis meet New York Times to discuss anti-Semitic cartoon, Israel coverage

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of New York Board of Rabbis says it was ‘a healthy, honest exchange’ with paper’s publisher, opinion page editor

A caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump published in The New York Times international edition on April 25, 2019, which the paper later acknowledged 'included anti-Semitic tropes.' (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)
A caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump published in The New York Times international edition on April 25, 2019, which the paper later acknowledged 'included anti-Semitic tropes.' (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

NEW YORK (JTA) — A dozen US rabbis from across the major denominations met Wednesday morning with the publisher and editorial page editor of The New York Times regarding the anti-Semitic cartoon it published and its general coverage of Israel.

The meeting at The Times offices in Midtown Manhattan lasted an hour and a half and was organized 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 anti-Semitic.

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

The Times has apologized for the cartoon and published a staff editorial criticizing 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.

This October 10, 2012, file photo shows the New York Times building in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

“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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