A branch of Jewish Voice for Peace and a second left-wing group have taken credit for distributing a fake issue of the New York Times on February 2 made up of commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The local New York chapter of JVP, and a small New York-based pro-Palestinian activist group Jews Say No!, issued a statement February 3 claiming credit for the stunt, calling the paper a “parody.”
The activists distributed a product meant to resemble the New York Times both online and in printed copies handed out in New York City. Twitter suspended an account set up for the stunt. A website that mimicked the New York Times’s design was also suspended by its host.
The stunt was meant to “point out how biased current reporting is on Israel and Palestine and to show what a paper that was fair and accurate could look like,” one of the fake paper’s writers said in JVP’s statement.
In an emailed statement, the Times said that it was able to shut down online versions of the fake paper because it was “deliberately designed to trade on our name and mislead users.”
“We are extremely protective of our brand and other intellectual property and object to these two groups - or any other groups - attempting to cloak their political views under the banner of The New York Times,” spokesperson Eileen Murphy said. “It is our firm belief that those advocating for political positions are best served by speaking openly, in their own voice.”
JVP’s statement listed by name the editors, designers, and writers behind the project. They included longtime New York-area Jewish leftwing activists, among them Rosalind Petchesky, a distinguished professor at Hunter College, and Donna Nevel, a founder of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
Articles in the fake paper were bylined with names similar to those of actual Times reporters. Some stories were obvious farce, like one announcing that Hillary Clinton had dropped out of the presidential race. A phony Times editorial purported announce that the Times was acknowledging pro-Israel bias in its reporting, and pledging change.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.