New Mexican Distorts Goldstein Pro-Israel Letter
After SFMEW member Susan Goldstein submitted a carefully crafted letter calling on the New Mexican to consider removing Bill Stewart’s weekly commentaries, the New Mexican editorial page editor substantially changed the intent of Susan’s letter by adding and dropping wording. Below is the original, submitted letter, that was 148 words, followed by the published letter (February 7, 2017). The emboldened type is what was changed (removed from the original, added in the published version). The original was within the required 150 words (though we note that the Letters page often has longer letters, presumably when the editor likes what is being said).
ORIGINAL as submitted:
TIME TO LET HIM GOBill Stewart makes many factual errors in a recent column (“Israel, Palestine: the dispute continues” December 31, 2016).
Stewart claims that the Israel-Palestinian dispute is “The oldest and most fundamental dispute in the Middle East…”
Is he unaware of the Shiite-Sunni dispute in Muslim nations, which significantly pre-dates modern Zionism? Or the Greek-Turkey dispute on Cyprus? Or Baluchistan, Kurdistan, and Kashmir? How about the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border dispute, ongoing since at least 1934?
Jews had returned in significant numbers long before the modern Zionist movement ( Stewart denies this) – of the 25,030 total population in Jerusalem in 1876, 48% were Jews, 30% were Arab Muslims, and 22% were Christians. In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded, the Jerusalem population swelled to 165,000, 61% Jews.
The New Mexican’s credibility is at stake when they continue to let Stewart maintain a column with such fact-checkable errors. Time to let him go?
Susan Goldstein, Tesuque
PUBLISHED as changed by the editor without consulting with Goldstein:
In my opinion, columnist Bill Stewart makes errors in a recent column (“Israel, Palestine dispute continues,” Understanding Your World, Dec. 31). Stewart claims that the Israel-Palestinian dispute is “the oldest and most fundamental dispute in the Middle East. …” What about the Shiite-Sunni dispute in Muslim nations, which significantly predates modern Zionism? Or the Greek-Turkey dispute on Cyprus? Or Baluchistan, Kurdistan and Kashmir? How about the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border dispute, ongoing since at least 1934?
Jews had returned in significant numbers long before the modern Zionist movement (Stewart disputes this) — of the 25,030 total population in Jerusalem in 1876, 48 percent were Jews, 30 percent were Arab Muslims and 22 percent were Christians. In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded, the Jerusalem population swelled to 165,000, 61 percent Jews.
Susan Goldstein, Tesuque
The editor does the following:
- By eliminating Goldstein’s last sentence the editor eliminates Goldstein’s
- opinion that Stewart should be removed – a sentiment many SFMEW members have expressed, and we’ve written about in this blog on several occasions (see here and here).
- caveat that the New Mexican‘s credibility is at stake with untrue statements by Stewart. Anecdotally we’ve been told by many SFMEW members that they have dropped a New Mexican subscription over the past few years because they question the New Mexican‘s credibility and distortions about the Middle East, particularly when it comes to Israel.
- The editor removes the term “factual” in Goldstein’s opening statement and adds the parenthetical “in my opinion,” implying that the facts that Goldstein presents are really just opinions, and that Stewart’s statements as facts are also correct. But they are not. Goldstein had been contacted by the editor in advance and asked to supply references that support her facts. She did so with credible sources. So, one could ask, “Is the New Mexican advocating that Stewart’s false claims are true? If so, is it advocating false news?” In this day and age? Further, is the New Mexican afraid of publishing criticisms of itself?
- The editor changes the headline from “Time to Let Him Go” to “No Understanding.” The headline often is what attracts people to read the rest of the article/letter, and conveys in limited words the sentiment of the letter. This change by the editor clearly changed Goldstein’s tone and intent.
- Finally, the editor changes Goldstein’s “denies” to “disputes.” But Stewart doesn’t “dispute” at all, he indeed denies by errors both of commission and omission – an intellectual dishonesty that the editorial page editor should be more cautious about when publishing Stewart’s articles.
We agree with Goldstein: it’s time for Stewart to go; a New Mexican foreign policy or political column needs to be written by someone with more insight, up-to-date knowledge, and understanding than Stewart, who simply redacts the past week’s news and adds his own opinion, often gratuitously disparaging Israel in the process.
If you agree, write to the letters editor and editorial page editor and let them know that you are not pleased with their excessive editing that changed the intent of the Goldstein letter, while allowing (for example) the extraordinarily hate-filled Gerald Rosen letter to be published as they did:
Inez Russell Gomez, editorial page editor, 986-3053, email@example.com
Jan Schlain, letters editor, 986-3063, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yasher koach to Goldstein. Shanda (shame) to the New Mexican.
Suki Halevi, ADL-New Mexico Regional Director, highlighted in the New York Times.
Yesterday’s NY Times (February 9, 2017) quotes ADL-New Mexico’s Suki Halevi about two events that occurred in Albuquerque recently. “Hateful Threats Against a Jewish Blogger” discusses how Halevi helped Marc Yellin, the publisher of ABQ Jew, a useful website that includes the Jewish Event Calendar that many of us receive on Monday mornings with a list of upcoming Jewish events in the ABQ and Santa Fe areas.
You can see the whole article on the web link. Here is the relevant Halevi portion:
Anti-Semitic threats are unusual in Albuquerque, according to Suki Halevi, the New Mexico regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “We’ve been hearing about it and reading about it happening in other places,” she says, “and now these incidents have reached our community.”
The A.D.L. is concerned about an increase in reported hate crimes and online harassment since the start of the presidential campaign. In New Mexico, the group has been working with Muslim and immigrants’ rights groups to respond to and prepare for incidents of hate. The A.D.L. also offers training and online resources to help Jewish communities recognize suspicious activity and keep facilities safe.
“One of the goals of cyberharassment and threats of violence is to disrupt a community and cause fear,” says Ms. Halevi. “When the community is prepared, it helps to stop that from happening.”
Yasher koach to Suki, ADL-New Mexico board members, and all those who support ADL-New Mexico; they do good work.
It’s not too late to get your Ambassador Dennis Ross tickets.
“The US-Israel Relationship from Truman to Trump” Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Hurry. Tickets are Going Fast.
Mark it down on your calendar and don’t miss it:
Next SFMEW Meeting Monday, March 6, 2017
7:15 pm, Santa Fe Jewish Center (Chabad)
230 W. Manhattan Ave.
Santa Fe Middle East Watch is a beneficiary organization of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.