- - Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thank you for Suzanne Fields’ excellent column, “Anti-Semitism on International Holocaust Remembrance Day” (Jan. 30), noting anti-Semitism’s resurgence in the Middle East and Europe.

It bears clarifying that while European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton did indeed commemorate the Holocaust, her official statement conspicuously omitted any mention of Jews. It referred only to “victims of the Holocaust” generally. Ms. Ashton’s statement echoed The New York Times’ craven approach to covering the Holocaust.

The Times knew about the genocide, and even acknowledged in an editorial on Dec. 2, 1942, that “it is believed that 2,000,000 European Jews have perished and that 5,000,000 are in danger of extermination.”

As Laurel Leff documented in her book “Buried by the Times,” however, out of the nearly 24,000 front-page stories published by the Times between September 1939 and May 1945, only 26 were about the Holocaust — and like Ms. Ashton’s statement, most obscured the victims’ Jewish identities, calling them “refugees” or “persecuted minorities.”

When Jews were expressly identified as victims in Times articles, the stories were buried deep in the newspaper: A July 2, 1942, article reporting that the Nazis were killing 1,000 Jews a day in gas chambers was consigned to Page 6; a July 29, 1942, story that the Nazis planned to exterminate the Warsaw ghetto’s 600,000 Jews was buried on Page 7; a Feb. 14, 1943, report that “in one place in Poland, 6,000 Jews are killed daily” appeared on Page 37; and a July 2, 1944 dispatch that 400,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to their deaths and 350,000 more were to be killed in the next three weeks was buried on Page 12.

Meanwhile, the problem of holiday crowds on the move made that day’s front page. Only six times in six years did the Times identify on Page 1 Jews as the primary victims of Nazi atrocities.

Incidentally, Ms. Ashton spent Christmas last year in Bethlehem as a guest of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has called the Holocaust “the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that 6 million Jews were killed.” She said nothing about his Holocaust denial.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco