“All the Consent That’s Fit to Manufacture”

New York War Crimes

New York War Crimes


An Open Letter to Solvers and Constructors of NYT Games

Your puzzle subscription supports The Times’ disgraceful coverage of Israel’s genocidal war.
Protesters occupy the lobby of The New York Times on March 14, 2024.
June 13, 2024

Our coalition, Puzzlers for Palestinian Liberation (PPL), is calling on puzzle solvers and puzzle constructors alike to boycott, divest, and unsubscribe from The New York Times. PPL recognizes the prestige of The New York Times crossword—its stature in the puzzle world mirrors the Times’s reputation in the public eye. However, we also see clearly the role the publication has played in the destruction of Gaza. We loudly condemn the racist and hateful commentary and biased coverage that helps to manufacture consent for the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. The Times’s coverage of Gaza (or lack thereof) has real-world, devastating effects.

Puzzles play a large part in funding the Times’s operations—so much so that you can purchase a games-only subscription. Games hit the one-million subscriber mark in 2021, even before the New York Times Company’s acquisition of the wildly popular game Wordle. According to their most recent quarterly report, over 2.7 million of the Times’s 10 million subscribers are only signed up for The Athletic, Cooking, Wirecutter, or Games. As puzzlers, we’re asking you to think of the Times as a cog in the American war machine, and of Games as a tooth on the cog. By breaking one tooth, we can impair the function of the whole machine.

Jonathan Knight, the head of the Times’ game department, told Press Gazette in a March 2023 interview that “. . . [The Times] want[s] our puzzles to be a diversion from the news, we don’t want them to be the news. And we work very hard to make sure that that’s the case.” But no part of the Times, including games, can distance itself from the publication’s central agenda-setting role. Puzzles, as creative forms of media, are cultural artifacts that reflect the times we live in – and these are times of rising fascism, famine, war, and genocide. If the Times’ puzzles are intended as a “diversion from the news,” our call for boycott is all the more urgent: now is not the time to divert our eyes from the violent realities Palestinians face—realities for which The New York Times, whose anti-Palestinian bias stretches back decades, is accountable. The “diversion” offered by Times puzzles is structurally central to the paper’s business model; it directly funds the paper’s disgraceful coverage of Israel’s genocidal war.

Writers Against the War on Gaza’s (WAWOG) March 2024 analyses of the Times’ Gaza coverage revealed a consistent bias towards elevating Israeli voices and bolstering Israel’s official narratives, effectively silencing Palestinians. WAWOG found that “the Times used the passive voice to describe Palestinians 1.7 times more often than when describing Israelis”; Over 40,000 Palestinians “were killed” (by whom and how, might we ask?). Israelis have been quoted in the Times’ Gaza coverage more than twice as often as Palestinians. On December 28th, 2023, the Times ran an article titled “‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7,” co-authored by an Israeli stringer with no prior journalistic experience. The front-page feature included non-credible “testimony” from IDF soldiers and Israeli first responders, significant aspects of which have since been challenged and disproven. In their analysis and debunking of the widely discredited article, scholars in the Feminist Solidarity Network for Palestine explained that “Screams without Words” hinges on the “myth of the Black/Brown rapist” in which “colonized and racialized men have long been depicted in western cultural production as hypersexual, brutish threats to the ‘purity’ of white/colonial women,” serving as a justification for colonial violence. Your Times puzzle subscription is paying for unsubstantiated myths and racist propaganda that help to influence public opinion and state policies.
PPL believes that Palestinians have the right to self-determination, to live free from Israeli occupation and, by extension, from U.S. imperialism. We will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation until Palestine is free.

We know that The New York Times works overtime to protect Israel and the interests of Zionist Americans. Here’s how you can slow down the Times:

1   Solvers and constructors: Don’t solve the free puzzles! Don’t click on anything that the puzzles department puts out! This includes the Mini Crossword, Wordle, Spelling Bee, Connections, etc.

2   Solvers and constructors: Unsubscribe from The New York Times, especially if it’s just the puzzles. For other puzzles you can solve, we’d like to point you in the direction of Daily Crossword Links, which is a list of crossword puzzles published daily that you can subscribe to, and Puzzles for Palestine.

3   Solvers and constructors: Email The Times and let them know why you unsubscribed. See WAWOG’s unsubscribe letter here.

4   Constructors: Submit your work elsewhere! Submit to The New York War Crimes!

5   Constructors: Have a puzzle in the queue? Remove it and submit it somewhere else!

NOTE: Some of us will have crossword bylines in The New York Times in the future – puzzles that were accepted before our decision to divest from the Times, and that we are not in a position to retract. We will not be promoting these puzzles, and we will be using our platform to urge solvers to seek out other puzzles and to engage in pro-Palestine action. If you’re a constructor who is in the same position (for example, because you have a collaboration in the publication queue and your collaborator is not willing to retract it), we encourage you to do the same.

6   Solvers and constructors: Encourage others to do the things listed above!

From the River to the Sea,
Puzzlers for Palestinian Liberation

meatdaddy69420/Khris P. Hamm
Will Nediger
Kaitlin Hsu
Bob Weisz
Ada Nicolle
Alisya Reza
Anna Gundlach
Anna Shechtman
Darby Ratliff
Dob and Momes of Crossweird
Emma Lawson
Franci Dimitrovska
Jasmeet Arora
Juliana Pache
Ricky Cruz
Sara Cantor

To add your name, in solidarity, click here.

Additional signatories:

Brandon Wilner
Thea Kendal
Zaineb Akbar
Morgan Junor
Brad Junswick
Brian Thomas
Jamie Ding
Vidhya Aravind
Tom Johnson
Renée Cymry
Luke Woodland
Orca Jimmy Peniston
Liv Capati
Aimen Arshad
L. K.
Paul Shumaker