Israel First Means Israel Last

In my piece this week at Souciant, I look at the rather ludicrous controversy around the Center for American Progress regarding a blogger’s use of the term “Israel-firster” to describe people whose view of US foreign policy is driven by their (or Netanyahu’s) view of Israel’s strategic interests. It’s a phony argument meant to extend the right-wing campaign against CAP, and it seems to have had some success. That is something that not only liberals, but anyone who believes in free and open political debate should take very seriously.

URGENT: Journalists’ petition against the prosecution of Uri Blau

Uri Blau is the Ha’aretz report who received information from IDF reservidt Anat Kamm. You can read about that case here and you can find more in-depth background here  and here.

Blau may or may not be prosecuted, but, particularly in light of the massive WikiLeaks and Palestine Papers revelations, this sort of reporting has to be protected. It’s not just an Israeli issue–if Blau faces prosecution, this could have implications for journalism around the world.

Dimi Reider at 972 magazine offers analysis and background, but more importantly, includes a petition for journalists, bloggers and other writers to sign. If this fits you, please do add your name; instructions for doing so are also included in Dimi’s piece. Even if it does not, please spread word of this petition around. In the realm of ideas, free speech and the spirit of investigative journalism, there isn’t a more important issue today.

The New York Times Shows Its Poor Journalistic Standards

Even when the New York Times gets it right, they get it wrong.

Democracy in the bed under the about-to-be-extinguished light of journalism

On February 3, the Times printed an article about Jewish Voice for Peace, and high time it was. Some will think my past association with JVP is coloring my view here, but I do not say it was high time because of my admitted affection for the group, but rather because the simple fact is that they are a national, impactful and important organization. Other such groups are reported on, and JVP’s remarkable growth has earned it this moment in the spotlight, that’s all. But the Times seems to have had second thoughts.

The article was not an endorsement nor did it wave a banner for the group. It gave plenty of space to JVP’s detractors. It is impossible to see where the article fails to meet the highest standard of journalism. Yet on February 11, a full eight days after the piece appeared, the Times felt compelled to add the following editorial note:

An article last Friday described the group Jewish Voice for Peace, whose support for antigovernment protests in Egypt has led to tensions among some Jews in the Bay Area. After the article was published, editors learned that one of the two writers, Daniel Ming, had been active in pro-Palestinian rallies. Such involvement in a public cause related to The Times’s news coverage is at odds with the paper’s journalistic standards; if editors had known of Mr. Ming’s activities, he would not have been allowed to write the article.

I’d be curious to find out if the Times also so vets anyone who writes about abortion, or same-gender marriage, or guns, or, for that matter, the “free market.” Now a journalist’s political views, rather than the content or the quality of his work are the issue? Continue reading

Post Hacks: Jennifer Rubin and Caroline Glick, Separated at Birth?

There was a time when the Washington Post was understood to be one of the better mass media newspapers in the country, often regarded as on a level with the New York Times as a serious paper.

Media analysts (which is where I started this work, so I’d count myself among these) would assuredly contend that this was damning with faint praise. Still that regard the WaPo, as it’s often called on the internet, was once held in has been in sharp decline for some time now.  Their coverage of Israel, for example, just gave us a startling example of that decline, when the Post decided to hire Jennifer Rubin as blogger.

Washington Post blogger, Jennifer Rubin (photo by Daniel Sieradski)

Rubin had previously written for the neoconservative Commentary Magazine and other outlets after leaving her career as a lawyer. Columnist Ali Gharib, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, says of her:

Rubin has a penchant for relentlessly sticking political opponents with negative labels… During the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, Rubin claimed that Obama’s “sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens.” Last year, Rubin derided Obama as “the most anti-Israel U.S. president (ever),” a judgment unequivocally repudiated by even the hawkish Israel lobby group AIPAC. Undeterred, this summer Rubin lamented, in a typically overblown overstatement, that the Israel “must figure out how (quite literally) the Jewish state is to survive the Obama presidency,” insisting the following day that Israel will have to go it alone against Iran.

Rubin got called this week on that penchant for labeling, which some think is libeling. Continue reading