Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

Mairav Zonszein, the far left writer who I have shown on numerous occasions to be intellectually dishonest, does it again – but this time for what most people consider a prestigious journal, the Columbia Journalism Review.


In short, her piece attacks The Forward for not being leftist enough. (The subtitle is “How America’s Jewish newspaper lost the left.”)

Now, I have attacked the Forward many times for publishing opinions and promoting articles that I think gave too much oxygen to the far-Left, providing their members a platform that is far out of proportion to their actual numbers. But the standard that one should use to criticize a media outlet, outside of insisting they report the truth, is whether it adheres to its own stated positions. The Forward’s masthead says ” News That Matters To American Jews,” not “Bernie Sanders Fan Club” or “Zionists are Racists.”  (The Forward’s advertising pitch does say that it is “a beacon of integrity, iconoclasm and progressive thought” but it is unclear whether it uses the word “progressive” the same way the uber-Left does. What is clear is that The Forward considers itself above all a Jewish media outlet, not a leftist one.)

Criticizing The Forward for not being leftist enough when it never claimed to be a leftist media outlet is only one piece of Zonszein’s dishonesty. Zonszein misleads again and again, stating things that CFR should have fact-checked.

For example, she writes, “Compared to figures such as Omar and Ocasio-Cortez, Stephen Miller, a Trump senior adviser who is one of the most influential Jews in the White House, was given less attention, even as he advanced white-supremacist policies inspired by Mein Kampf.” I count over 90 articles in The Forward about Stephen Miller, nearly all of them extremely negative. That’s plenty of attention! Yes, there are about 130 articles that mention Omar, but a significant number of them support her against her critics. (Zonszein’s link about Mein Kampf is also false, it does not support her assertion that Miller’s positions were inspired by Hitler.)

The article goes on to berate the Forward for publishing occasional opinion pieces from the Right, such as from Mort Klein. Whether she likes him or not, he is the head of a major Zionist organization and to banning him from the Forward would be astonishing  To the Left, censorship of opinions they don’t agree with is a higher editorial imperative than publishing a variety of opinions that are representative of American Jews.

More outrageous is this section where Zonszein implies that The Forward is in bed with neo-Nazis: “Another contributor published ‘We Need to Start Befriending Neo-Nazis.'” The article in question, by Bethany Mandel, was about the few people who try to get neo-Nazis to understand Jews and to change their minds – the exact opposite of the implication by Zonszein.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, to Zonszein and her far-Left, anti-Israel friends, was that The Forward has not been shy about calling out leftist antisemitism such as that consistently pushed by Ilhan Omar.

That problem came to a head last February, when Batya Ungar-Sargon, The Forward’s opinion editor, called out Congresswoman Omar for anti-Semitism, sparking a national controversy and leading to the fundraising email that angered Jewish progressives like me. “It is frustrating and saddening to see The Forward today embracing, indeed, reveling in, its newfound role as policeman, prosecutor, judge, and jury deciding what is and isn’t anti-Semitism,” Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, says.

So the Left can tell us what antisemitism is and the Forward cannot? Because according to them, there is simply no such thing as any antisemitism that is not from the far Right, and mentioning any other type outrages them. Arab antisemitism is “protesting for Palestinian freedom” no matter how many times the word “Jew” is used. Attacks on Jews in Brooklyn are twisted to somehow be Trump’s fault.  And, of course, there is antisemitism on the Left itself, often camouflaged as being anti-Israel. Even UN expert on freedom of religion and belief admits that there is leftist antisemitism.

But the far Left is outraged and wants to silence any such opinion. To them, even the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance cannot express an opinion on what antisemitism is. Only they can, and all antisemitism conveniently comes from their political opponents. They are guilty of the “weaponizing” antisemitism they accuse everyone else of doing, even in this very essay.

The article doesn’t even have a consistent, coherent viewpoint. Zonszein’s last paragraph is a stunning example:

In many ways, what is happening with the paper reflects what has been going on in the American Jewish community writ large: the collapse of centrism, the polarization of discourse, and the imperative to take a stand. And that’s the source of my frustration with The Forward. Communicating through op-eds and imposing divides among Jews isn’t the kind of journalism required to guide us through the difficult moment we’re in.

She just wrote an entire article attacking the site for publishing opinions that are too Right and not enough from the Left, and then she complains about “the collapse of centrism”? She wants to silence Bethany Mandel, who cannot be pigeonholed as Right of Left and is as classically liberal as they come, and then complains about the “polarization of discourse”? Is the “imperative to take a stand” a bad thing? She mercilessly attacks any Jewish opinion she disagrees with and then complains about “imposing divides among Jews”? What a bizarre conclusion to Zonszein’s screed.

The main thrust of the piece, besides attempting to smear The Forward, is to insist that it has no right to publish any opinions that Leftists disagree with. This fundamentally anti-liberal and anti-free speech stance is a very strange one for a watchdog like CJR to publish.


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