The principle of Freedom of the Press assures every media outlet the right to publish freely in the public domain. Yet on Yom Kippur, we couch that freedom with a restraint on "Hotzaat Shem HaRa" - denigration in the public domain
In 2008, Tikkun magazine, a fellow member of the American Jewish Press Association, won the American Jewish Press Association ‘s Simon Rockower Award for “Excellence in Special Sections or Supplements” for its “Israel at 60” issue.
Yom Kippur provides an opportunity for AJPA to reconsider such an award to a special issue of a magazine which was dedicated to promoting "Hotzaat Shem HaRa" and the denigration of Israel.
That issue contains vile diatribes against Israel as a human-rights-violating oppressor of the Palestinian people, a “shanda fur de goyim” (a disgrace among the nations), and an idolatrous worshipper of power instead of trust in YHVH (the God of healing and transformation, the God that calls for a world based on love and generosity and promises to throw the Jews out of their land if they do not embody this different and very anti-”realistic” perspective that is the whole point of being Jewish).” In that issue, Tikkun editor Michael Lerner described the founding of Israel by writing that “...Jews were determined to be as ruthless towards others as others had been towards us. Yet, there were alternatives. We could have remained a minority in an Arab country and hoped for the goodness of the Arab people to prevail...We could have reached out...to a growing Palestinian nationalist movement and tried to create a bi-national state. We could have rejected20the Histadrut's "Jewish only" policy of membership...” Lerner added that “starting in the 1980s, it was the Jews who rejected reasonable offers for peace...” and that “the kind of Zionism that has emerged in Israel is fundamentally incompatible with the highest values of the Jewish tradition, and must be rejected...”
This is reminiscent of an interview with Dr. Mubarak Awad, head of a Palestinian “Center for the Study of Non-Violence” which Tikkun magazine commissioned our agency to conduct, on January 8, 1988.
Dr. Awad, whose office was decorated with pictures of Dr, Martin Luther King and Dr Mahatma Ghandi, said in the taped interview for Tikkun that he favored a coalition of violent and nonviolent organizations that would advocate the Palestinian cause. When Dr Awad was asked how his approach differed from the pure approach of non-violence advocated by King and Ghandi, Awad responded that he was "more pragmatic than they were." However, Tikkun Michael Lerner deleted these questions in the March 1988 published interview, explaining later that "this is not the Awad we know.”
In terms of current Tikkun Denigration activities, the Tikkun invitation to Alice Walker to speak for them on Yom Kippur speaks for itself.
Walker remains one of those who refer to Israel’s war with Gaza in terms of Israel’s “war crimes”.
It will be most instructive to observe the reaction of the American Jewish Press Association to Lerner’s latest act of denigration of Israel in the public domain.
The second Yom Kippur matter with AJPA concerns allegations of a former president of the American Jewish Press Association, Marc Klein, who engaged in a serious Hotzaat Shem HaRa against my work.
During this past year, I requested news interviews with J Street through J St9 9s representative - Steve Rabinowitz of Rabinowitz Dorf - asking for the opportunity to raise journalistic questions of the organizers of J Street concerning J Street's continued description of the PLO/Fatah/Abbas/The PA as a “moderate” entity..
However, Rabinowitz refused to allow me to ask questions to J Street organizers.
Incredibly, Marc Klein supported the idea that Rabinowitz would not have to answer questions from a journalist.
Klein justified the idea by attacking me as a right wing ideologue who is not really a journalist.
In other words, AJPA defines Michael Lerner as a journalist, but not David Bedein.
It is doubtful whether Klein bothered to peruse 909 bylined articles in the Philadelphia Bulletin , 2006-2009, which have been published over the past three years to see for himself whether the title “journalist” was appropriate or not..
With the advent of Yom Kippur, it would behoove Klein to express regret for engaging in Hotzaat Shem HaRa against me, and to admit that he while he may not like my questions, that he does recognize me as a colleague and professional journalist.
I have worked diligently in the world of journalism since launching a news agency at Beit Agron on Dec.1, 1987, a web magazine on Feb 1 1997 and assuming the chairmanship of an academic research center on August 1, 2005.
During these 22 years, I have applied my MSW and social work ethics to my work, and to stick to the facts, no matter whose toes are stepped on.
As a student of Saul Alinsky, whom I learned with at the Free University in Madison forty years ago, the principle of focusing on moral principles while carrying out a professional role remains of primary concern.
Contrary to how Klein has stereotyped my work, the passion of my background is in the peace movement, both in the United States and in Israel. From 1970 to the present, I was involved in Jewish-Arab dialogue groups, with organizations that advocate the protection of Jewish and Arab civil liberties, and with groups that seek a solution to the continuing indignity of Arab refugee camps.
When the PLO betrayed the principles pf the peace movement, the responsible thing do was to blow the whistle on the PLO, unlike many colleagues from the peace movement and from the world of social work who prefer to look the other way and to give the benefit of the doubt to the PLO, which continues to endorse the liberation of all of Palestine - albeit in stages - and the return of refugees and their descendants to homes from 1948 which no longer exist..
Israel Resource works on issues that most reporters prefer to ignore: the PLO suppression of civil liberties and human rights, the PLO persecution of Christians, the PLO media celebrations of those who murder Jews, the new PLO textbooks which inculcate the idea that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth. (http://tinyurl.com/ydgfzna)
Israel Resource made enemies in the Jewish media by exposing Arafat before others did so, by hiring Palestinian journalists to record Arafat’s message in Arabic to his own people, while most of the media ignored Arafat’s clear message in Arabic.
Our Palestinian TV crew was the only TV media outlet that covered the Palestinian National Council meeting in April 1996 which would not change the PLO covenant to destroy Israel, which contradicted the lie promulgated at the time that the PLO had changed its covenant. (http://tinyurl.com/ydvrhof)
Today, it is understood that Arafat was not a man of peace.
However, that was not always the case.
Our agency that exposed the fact that the UJC, in October 1999, intended to bestow the Isaiah Award for Peace on Yassir Arafat, Steve Rosenberg, then the editor of the Jewish Advocate in Boston, checked our story and received confirmation from the UJC and from Arafat’s office that the UJC indeed planned to grant the Isaiah Award for Peace to Arafat.
Thanks to that revelation, the UJC was forced to cancel that honor to the terror chieftan.
UJC never thanked our agency for saving them from that disgrace.
Imagine if Arafat’s obituary five years later would have mentioned an honor granted to Arafat by the American Jewish establishment?.
Instead, the UJC hired Kroll Associates to investigate the sources of our story, and issued memos to Jewish Federations to beware of our agency.
Yes, there is a price to be paid for being ahead of your time.
Today, with Yom Kippur on the horizon, the American Jewish media copes with paid professionals associated with the New Israel Fund, the Americans for Peace Now and Rabinowitz Dorf/J Street, all of whom are members in good standing of the American Jewish Press Association, all of whom promote the idea that the PLO/Fatah wants peace, along with the notion that Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines stand n the way of peace. They promote the idea that anyone who reports the PLO’s Arabic language message should be dismissed as “right wing” and not be listened to.
Arafat’s protégé, Abbas, in negotiation with Hamas to run a joint dictatorship over the Palestinian people, remains in control.
While Abbas's voice is softer than Arafat. his message remains the same.
Jewish media who cover suppression of Palestinian human rights could easily focus on Palestinian refugees and their descendants who are confined by the UN to the squalor of UNRWA refugee camps, funded by the Western nations, under the premise and promise of the right of return to villages from 1948 that no longer exist.
However, such concerns do not fit the agenda of those who denegrate the state Israel and such concerns do not fit the agenda of those who hold Israel responsible for confining Palestinian Arabs to refugee camps for an entire generation.
Yom Kippur is designed to bring about an inner change which will produce new ways of thinking and considering the challenges of life.
That should apply to the Jewish media and its coverage of the PLO.
Our agency asks, once again, that the June 2010 annual meeting of the American Jewish Press Association conduct a session on the Arabic language message of the PLO and its Palestinian Authority to their own people. If the PLO will convey a message of peace and reconciliation in the Arabic language by then, that will be discussed. Indeed, The Obama Administration is now addressing itself to the issue of virulent Palestinian incitement, unlike the Clinton and Bush administrations which ignored the issue.