Censoring News For Jews
12/29/2011 - 11:13
Douglas Bloomfield

The violent clashes with religious extremists in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, have been going on for years but they rose to a new level in the past week, drawing national and international attention to a problem the government has been reluctant to confront.  The attack on an 8-year-old Modern Orthodox girl who was spit upon, called a slut and subjected to indignities by men claiming to have the permission of their rabbis brought shame to the religious community and to the nation's reputation for tolerance.

The stories of these religious fanatics who throw eggs and bags of excrement and hurl obscene curses at children, who want to prevent men and women from walking on the same side of the street or sitting in the same sections of public buses are by now well known. These zealots present to the world an ugly portrait of Israel.

And don't blame the anti-Israel foreign press; the story was covered extensively in every Israeli newspaper, radio and television station and all over the Internet.  It also got extensive international coverage, notably in American newspapers and television.

Everywhere that is but the Daily Alert, a Jewish establishment newsletter that touts itself as a summary of the important news out of the Middle East.  If you were naïve enough to depend on the Daily Alert for your news, as many are, then the riots and violence in Beit Shemesh never happened.  That may be because the publication is prepared by the right-leaning Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and distributed by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The Daily Alert summarizes a dozen or so of what are supposedly the top stories of importance to friends of Israel and is distributed free daily to hundreds of Jewish organizations, synagogues, community leaders and activists around the country.

Inexplicably, it didn't have space for news about strife on Israeli streets that divides the nation although there was enough room for stories with headlines like "Arab Man Who Stoned Jewish Vehicle in Jerusalem Gets 4 Years," "How Did Israeli Pencils Reach Saudi Retail Chain?" and a photo titled "Hamas Women March with Kalashnikov Rifles in Gaza."

One gets the impression that the COP's policy is to block out news that reflects badly on the Israeli right and the religious establishment, while shining all its spotlights on anything that shows Arabs, particularly Palestinians, in a negative light.

That's not news, it's propaganda, even if it's for a cause you believe in.

The COP does a great disservice to the American Jewish community it claims to represent, treating Jewish leaders and activists as though they are not smart enough to be trusted with the truth.  

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This article and following comments help prove that we should all get our news from a variety of sources to be able to make a judgement of what is the truth.

to accuse another publication of "censoring" news is amusing considering the way the forward tilts its reporting. it calls likkud politicians "right wing" for example yet doesn't call livni left wing, calls j street pro-israel when it's not, and uses implied negtive adjectives when writing about anyone to the right of your politicil agenda.

Doug Bloomfield's last paragraph is right on. I'm a long time reader of the Daily Alert and noticed the same problem. I've written them that they do a disservice to the community, especially those who are not regular readers of the major American members or Israeli press, when they do not carry op-ed or other articles critical of Israel. Only received brush-off replies.

Undoubtedly the Jewish week will receive complaints from the Presidents' Conference about this posting. The Jewish Week is to be commended for publishing all the news, even when it's bad or reflects unfavorably. Religious persecution by Israeli haredim of non-haredim is no better than any other form of religious persecution. This is one piece of Israel's tawdry underside which the official Jewish community denies and whose reporting over the years it decries. But news is when man bites dog. Haredim persecuting non-haredim in Israel is news. Too many will complain that the New York Times reports such items. Good for the Jewish Week doing honest news coverage!

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