Henry Siegman’s conflict of interest

HsiegmanIt turns out that Henry Siegman (pictured), a frequent critic of Israel in the pages of the International Herald-Tribune and the New York Review of Books, has a serious conflict of interest. A NY Sun editorial reveals that the Council on Foreign Relations—which pays Siegman a $204,000 salary—has received funding such sources as Yasser Arafat confidante Munib Masri, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and the European Commission.

Mr. Siegman tells us that his views have been consistent over his career and that his project’s funding sources – which he points out are a matter of public record – haven’t influenced his opinions. A spokeswoman for the Council says that there is no connection between funding sources and any scholar’s opinions. The editor in charge of the opinion page at the International Herald Tribune, Serge Schmemann, says that the paper never asked about, and Mr. Siegman never mentioned, where his money was coming from. Editors at the New York Review of Books, where Mr. Siegman also publishes, did not return our phone calls seeking comment.

Why aren’t the New York Review of Books and the New York Times-owned IHT disclosing that the man attacking Israel in their pages is being supported by European governments and non-American Arab businessmen? The Times itself has an integrity policy requiring freelance contributors to “avoid conflicts of interest, real or apparent,” yet the Times ran an op-ed piece by Mr. Siegman in 2002 identifying him only as “a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.” If the publications had made the disclosure, their readers could draw their own conclusions.

Siegman has accused Israel of blocking peace, claimed that Ariel Sharon manipulates Washington, and even predicted that the prime minister would scuttle the disengagement and blame the Palestinians.

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