(September 19, 2022 / JNS) Regarding Linda Sarsour, The New York Times just helped explain why she and Tamika Mallory have received so much criticism in recent years. The reason is not due to the anti-Semitism of the former leaders of the Women’s March, the demonization of Israel and the Zionists, the support of the hatemonger Louis Farrakhan or the way they drove Jewish women out of the leadership of the anti-Trump protest movement.
According to a lengthy front-page article published in the Sunday Time last weekend, the source of their problems was Russia. The newspaper reports that the Russian secret service created 152 different fictitious Twitter accounts which then circulated a total of 2,642 tweets containing information intended to slander Sarsour with “damning, often fabricated narratives” intended to make the Palestinian-American a “ lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his opponents.
The article argues that at the heart of the issues that ultimately shattered the Women’s March – which ousted Sarsour and its president, Mallory, in late 2018 – were Russian low blows. It’s the same accusation that’s been leveled for years by Democrats over the 2016 election: About $100,000 in Facebook ads delivered by Russian bots stole the presidency from Hillary Clinton, though that sum is only a drop in the ocean in an election on which parties and candidates have spent billions.
And it’s as misleading as it is unconvincing.
The way that the Time presented his findings, as if he had uncovered the truth about a foreign plot to undermine an American protest movement – a plot that had risen to prominence largely due to the uncritical coverage of liberal corporate media – is deplorable. But why this nonsensical article deserves to be held up as a particularly glaring example of what is wrong with the liberal media is the way it seeks to portray anti-Semites as victims and to deal with its Jew-hatred agenda. and of Israel as not only normative, but somehow admirable. In this way, he integrates their program as an essential element of progressive thought.
Author Ellen Barry, who serves as Timeit is mental health correspondent, fails to explain how social media activity that only spread messages about Sarsour’s already widely reported vicious record as a critic of Israel played even a marginal role in damaging the reputation of the Women’s March.
An investigative article in Tablet in December 2018 helped expose the fact that Sarsour and Mallory used their roles as leaders of the anti-Trump Women’s March to exclude Jewish women from the leadership of the group and to make it clear that anyone supported the existence of Israel had no place in the organization. Yet Barry did not mention this article once in his 4,000 word article. Instead, she noted criticism from fringe right-wing activists, as if only fringe figures paid attention to how anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel had become a key element in a coming organization. to embody progressive attitudes toward Trump.
The Women’s March mobilized more than a million people to join a demonstration in Washington in January 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. This success spawned many other similar marches across the country, both that day and later.
Although initially presented as an apolitical statement of support for women’s rights and opposition to sexual harassment, it was formed by a loose coalition of more traditional leftists, as well as more radical groups. It quickly turned into what was called a “resistance” against the new president whose election has been widely decried as the illegitimate result of collusion with Russia. Those at its head were treated by the mainstream media as militant heroines.
So perhaps Sarsour’s claim that she was shocked by the sudden torrent of backlash, based on her record, is understandable. Now informed by the Time that Russian robots were among those spreading information about her background, she said she called Mallory to tell her that their belief that anger at them must have been the result of a conspiracy was justified.
“We weren’t crazy,” she recalls.
But anyone who thinks that a relatively low volume of harm on social media is the reason the two are viewed with disdain isn’t crazy. Instead, they are the victims of gaslighting.
The TimeThe effort to portray the couple as blameless activists who fell victim to a conspiracy seeks to create a new, even more dangerous narrative in which anti-Semitism is legitimized and those who draw attention to it are exposed to undermine democracy.
As early as 2017, conservative critics and some in Jewish media, including JNS, had noted that Sarsour was a rabid anti-Zionist and practitioner of hate speech against Israel and Jews, and that Mallory was a supporter of Farrakhan. But at a time when the Women’s March was portrayed as a righteous defender of democracy, few were listening. Indeed, mainstream Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League have continued to betray their mission to fight anti-Semitism by making common cause with Mallory as part of their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Any foreign interference in American public discourse, whether from Russia, China or any other hostile country, is deplorable. But to grasp what does not even deserve to be considered a marginal factor in the Sarsour and Mallory debate as an explanation for the low esteem in which they are held by righteous Americans is dishonest partisanship, not journalism.
The Timeit is The obsession with Russian robots shows that she still hasn’t come to terms with much of what she published in the first two and a half years of the Trump administration about Russian collusion and the 2016 election. been a farrago of lies and half-truths. Far from being enterprising journalism, it was the result of an elaborate hoax hatched by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and aided by anti-Trump figures in the FBI and Justice Department.
The Time won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Russian conspiracy in 2018. But, like his articles denying the reality of the terrorist famine in Ukraine in the 1930s by Stalin apologist Walter Duranty – for which he also won a Pulitzer underserved – the newspaper is not giving it back.
Barry’s reporting should be considered part of the TimeThe refusal to recognize the false character of the narrative of the “resistance” which he has contributed so much to supporting. It was based on a conspiracy theory aimed at convincing Americans that foreign conspiracies were the reason Trump was elected. He has now extended that argument to encompass claims that people like Sarsour and Mallory are victims of Russian plots, rather than denounced for their anti-Semitism.
This must also be seen in the context of a century of Times downplaying anti-Semitism which included the Holocaust, as well as his consistent opposition to Zionism and Israel. At this moment, the Time don’t think an outbreak of attacks on Orthodox Jews in the greater New York area deserves much media coverage. But at a time when even the ADL is ready to acknowledge that left-wing anti-Semitism is a growing problem, this article about Russian bots shows that the newspaper is also now committed to defending the progressives who are behind a rise in hatred of Jews. It’s a shame worthy of Duranty’s legacy.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.