Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016)

Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016)

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Jerold S. Auerbach

Series: Antisemitism in America
ISBN: 9781618118974 (hardcover) / 9781618118981 (paper)
Pages: 322 pp.
Publication Date: February 2019

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After Adolph Ochs purchased The New York Times in 1896, Zionism and the eventual reality of the State of Israel were framed within his guiding principle, embraced by his Sulzberger family successor, that Judaism is a religion and not a national identity. Apprehensive lest the loyalty of American Jews to the United States be undermined by the existence of a Jewish state, they adopted an anti-Zionist critique that remained embedded in its editorials, on the Opinion page and in its news coverage. Through the examination of evidence drawn from its own pages, this book analyzes how all the news “fit to print” became news that fit the Times’ discomfort with the idea, and since 1948 the reality, of a thriving democratic Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

Jerold S. Auerbach is author of eleven books, including a New York Times Noteworthy Book (1976), and articles in Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and The New York Times. A Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Lecturer at Tel Aviv University, he is Professor Emeritus of History at Wellesley College.

From Our Blog


Jerold Auerbach’s archly titled new study Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel, 1896–2016 is a well-researched and, for the most part, damning brief of the Times’s news coverage and editorial attitudes toward Zionism and Israel for over a century. … Print to Fit was written well before the Jew-dog cartoon scandal, but it does answer the question about it with which this review began: How could such an image make it to the pages of an edition of the New York Times?
— Deborah E. Lipstadt, the Jewish Review of Books
Auerbach subjects the New York Times to a meticulously researched analysis of its attitude over the years 1896 to 2016 towards Zionism and Israel. … Print to Fit leads the reader through Israel’s story along an unfamiliar route. The New York Times is one of the world’s leading newspapers. It is regarded as a ‘journal of record.’ For more than 120 years it has been shaping American opinion. Jerold S Auerbach argues convincingly that, as far as Zionism and Israel are concerned, the paper has consistently been far from objective in its editorial policy, has fallen short of its own high standards, and has consequently failed in its journalistic obligations to the public.
— Neville Teller, The Jerusalem Report
Nobody has ever been sure what The New York Times’ famous slogan, ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ means. Jerold Auerbach demonstrates, brilliantly, that ‘fit to print’ became, starting in 1896 and since remaining, news and opinion that fit its owners’ hostility to the Zionist idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. That idea threatened Reform Judaism’s belief that America, not Palestine, was the new Zion. The book provides a hitherto missing chapter of American history and also tackles the question of whether Jews should judge Judaism by the standards of The New York Times or the Times by the standards of Judaism.
— Edward Alexander, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Within a year of one another, Theodore Herzl established the Zionist movement and Adolph Ochs bought and set The New York Times against the idea of a Jewish State. Historian Jerold Auerbach tracks that unfolding, enduring antagonism from its origins to the present with brilliant detail and cogent analysis. This is an indispensable book about the Times—and not only about its Jewish problem.
— Ruth Wisse, Professor Emerita, Harvard University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Patriotic Loyalty 1896-1927
Chapter 2: The Zionist Menace 1928-1939  
Chapter 3: Denial and Discomfort 1933-1948  
Chapter 4: Democratic Allies 1949-1957  
Chapter 5: Conquest and Occupation 1960-1979
Chapter 6: Arabs and Jews 1979-1984
Chapter 7: Moral Equivalence 1984-1988
Chapter 8: Occupation Cruelty 1988-1989
Chapter 9: Illusions of Peace 1990-1996
Chapter 10: Realities of Conflict 1996-2001
Chapter 11: Blame Israel First 2002-2006  
Chapter 12: Israeli Goliath 2006-2009
Chapter 13: Double Standards 2009-2014
Chapter 14: American Loyalty 2014-2015
Epilogue 2016

Author’s Note