Antony Loewenstein gets to the heart of the matter- the Sydney-based Jewish newspaper, Australian Jewish News (AJN), just refused to run an ad promoting a talk by Israeli Committee Against House Demolition’s Jeff Halper, but happily runs ads supporting extremist settlers, because nobody complains:
I contacted the AJN’s National Editor, Ashley Browne, to shed more light on the decision to block the ad. He said that the paper was not obliged to run the ads and refused ads all the time.
When pushed, he acknowledged that he supported the publisher, Polaris Media’s Robert Magid – who recently claimed in the paper that the late English playwright Harold Pinter was a “political extremist” for daring to criticise Israel – to cut ads that would “offend significant members of the community, especially subscribers”. I asked him how an ad that simply listed a handful of events would be “offensive”, but he gave no further information.
Magid told the Herald that he rejected the ad because he didn’t “like the crowd who are bringing him out.” He went on: “I am familiar with them. They use their Judaism to bash other Jews and issues associated with the Jewish community.”
I queried Browne why the paper seemed happy to run irregular ads from the fundamentalist, West Bank settler movement. “Nobody has ever complained about those ads,” he replied. Clearly the message of the colonial project in the West Bank – a recent EU report found yet more evidence of illegal development around East Jerusalem – is less “offensive” than a mild-mannered Jewish peace activist.
Last year, as we reported, Sacramento, California’s Jewish newspaper similarly refused to run a calendar item about Dr. Alice Rothchild’s book tour. The backlash forced them to print an explanation on page one of the next edition.
The moral fiber of any community is built by addressing, head-on, the challenging questions raised by these human rights leaders– it is not built be refusing to even entertain the questions.
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