Action Alert: Write to the SF Reporter to demand an apology and change in editorial policy regarding how she’s treating Jews and Israelis.
The SF Reporter has published another letter from Lena Griffith that is filled once again with hate speech…and several letters from the typical anti-Israel/anti-Semitic mob that get published in the New Mexican or elsewhere. The Reporter seems to think that publishing some of our members’ letters therefore provides “balance.” But journalistic balance does not have to mean equal space or words or number of letters – it should be related to some sense of journalistic standards of decency and propriety.
We cannot remain silent in the face of an unrepentant editor. Write to the Reporter and ask for an apology for her printing of a letter which smears Jews everywhere. Information on how to write to the Reporter can be found here. Tips on writing letters to the editor can be found here. Even if you’ve written before, you can express your displeasure that the editor remains without a clue.
For those of you without access to the Reporter online, at the bottom of this email/blog is a copy of the letters published by the Reporter. Yasher koach to those who wrote earlier to complain about the publishing of Griffith’s letter.
As we have documented in a prior blog post,on April 20 a vicious, anti-Semitic letter was published in the Santa Fe Reporter. This letter by Lena Griffith needs no analysis for the readers of this blog. The response letters by five rabbis, the ADL, the Federation, and other concerned citizens outlining the many errors and hate speech of the letter easily explain the problems of the thinking of Griffith (as we also included in the prior blog post). Subsequently a rabbi from the Santa Fe community contacted the editor of the SF Reporter, Julie Ann Grimm, and had a conversation explaining why the Jewish community as a whole was outraged by the publication of the letter, let alone the vicious anti-semitism and hatred expressed in the letter. He felt that this “seemed to be a very positive conversation…”
Subsequently, the Reporter published another round of letters in the May 4-10 issue which included a mix of Jewish community responses and additional Israel hate letters, including an additional letter by Lena Griffith with the same types of egregious allegations.
The Santa Fe Reporter has failed to discharge the elementary duty of a newspaper: avoid publishing letters that, on their face, encourage hatred for a particular ethnic, religious, sexually-oriented or racial group.
It has now published not one but two letters from Lena Griffith and two other, similar letters that are intended to incite and inflame hatred for a particular ethnic group: Israelis. While the publication of Griffith’s first letter may be attributed to editorial inattention, the publication of the second one, as well as its two echoes, is inexcusable in light of the numerous letters and direct contact by a rabbi from our community that alerted the Editor to the true nature of these letters.
The Reporter should have admitted its error in publishing the first letter and made clear that its letters-to-the-editor policy rests on an unflinching embrace of First Amendment values coupled to an equally unflinching dedication to promoting civility in the expression of all views, including views that some readers might find disagreeable. The operative word is civility. If a viewpoint cannot be expressed civilly, perhaps it should not find its way onto the pages of The Reporter.
The Reporter should follow the example of other publications that have set forth guidelines for letters to the editor and have publicly apologized for editorial misjudgments in this area. Highly regarded papers like that New York Times and LA Times, when faced with such egregious errors (one could say perhaps a type of journalistic indecency or lack of ethics done by the Reporter), have published corrections and even apologies; they recognize that good journalistic standards also demand limits on what should be published. Their (the NY Times, for example) policy is to publish most points of view “within the bounds of good taste.” Further, as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) in America states,
If a letter that does not fall “within the bounds of good taste” is published due to carelessness, a lapse in judgement or any other reason, it is not unprecedented for an editor to acknowledge the mistake, apologize or retract the letter.
There are many examples of newspapers, even small town newspapers like the SF Reporter, apologizing for such actions. Just two examples: the Tucson Citizen’s editor and publisher apologized for publishing a letter advocating random executions of Muslims. The Daily Item of Sunbury, in Pennsylvania, apologized for a letter that indirectly advocated an attack on President Obama.
Is it possible that the Editor of The Reporter believes that, unlike the subjects of the offensive letters in the examples above, Israeli and Israelis are fair game for hate speech; or that they are not entitled to the same civility as Muslims? Would the Editor have published a letter accusing the Black Caucus in Congress of fomenting racial discord? Would the Editor have published a letter accusing Chinese-Americans of disloyalty to the U.S. because the Chinese Army is accused of hacking American computer networks? Where is the civil discourse filter when the subject is Israel?
Perhaps the Reporter is happy to have the extra publicity associated with controversy? Perhaps they take pride in being provocative? Even so, they need to have some sense of civility and propriety, and be impartial in applying rules to eliminating hate speech. Further, even under limited budgets they should avoid publishing purported facts without doing some basic fact checking (see below).
The Reporter has now published two letters from Lena Griffith and one from Mariam Shumovski containing several factual inaccuracies, all designed to defame Israel and Israelis.
A. Griffith’s most recent assertions include the usual accusations:
- Israel practices “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” In fact the number of Arab citizens and residents in Israel is growing at a much higher rate than the number of Jewish citizens and residents. Between 1948 and 2014, the Arab population in Israel increased 11 fold. By contrast, the Jewish population increased 8 fold. To label these population trends “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” is to deny the reality of the Holocaust, when 6,000,000 Jews and countless gypsies experienced genuine “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.”
The real victims of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” have been the non-Muslim inhabitants of Muslim countries. 800,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries following Israel’s creation, forced to leave the places where they had lived for many centuries and forced to leave all their possessions. The current persecution of Christians in Egypt and Muslim-controlled countries in the Middle East as well as Africa has reached crisis proportions.
- Israel has “officially” killed hundreds of thousands of people defending itself in wars and attacks on Arab neighbors. This assertion is not backed by any source whatsoever. The Jewish Virtual Library has tabulated total Jewish and Arab/Palestinian deaths due to military action. The numbers show 24,237 Jewish deaths and 85,902 Arab/Palestinian deaths in the period 1948-2014. There is no basis for the “hundreds of thousands” allegation.
- The continued existence of Palestinian “refugee” camps is Israel’s fault. Griffith accuses Israel of creating the largest refugee crisis in recorded human history. She ignores the India-Pakistan partition, the current Syrian refugee crisis, or the Irish Potato famine of the 19th Century. She also ignores the fact that the 800,000 Jews deported in the Arab and North African ethnic cleansing in 1948 were quickly resettled, while the much smaller number of Palestinians who left Israel in 1948 found no fellow Arab or Muslim country to take them in.
- Guilt by association. Just because others offensive authors that Griffith mentions have voiced her views, doesn’t disqualify them from being hate speech, lies, and despicable. Does associating your viewpoint with David Duke or Ilan Pappe mean they are right, civil, or decent? Most of the authors Griffith cites are now shunned by reputable media because their outlandish viewpoints are factually inaccurate, and full of hate speech like Griffith’s letters.
B. Mariam Shumovski’s assertions are even more outlandish:
- Israelis have killed a Palestinian child every other day for the past 16 years. In effect, Shumovski asserts that Israeli forces have killed 2,920 Palestinian children in the past 16 years. Where does this number come from? How does it differ from the old blood libel, that Jews kill Christian children to make matzoh for Passover?
- Israeli settlers poison wells. This is a bizarre accusation to level at a country that has pioneered water conservation and recycling; at a group of people who literally made the desert bloom after 1,500 years of desertification under Arab occupation.
- Israeli settlers routinely run over and murder Palestinians without any legal consequences. Shumovski confuses who is doing the running over and murdering without legal consequences. When an Israeli IDF medic killed a Palestinian who had attacked some IDF soldiers but who had surrendered, the IDF medic was quickly charged with manslaughter. By contrast, when a Palestinian kills Israelis, he becomes a hero, has public monuments named for him and ensures that his family will receive a lifetime pension from the Palestinian authorities. The Rabin Square demonstration Shumovski mentions in her letter was in response to the indictment of the IDF medic. So she knew perfectly well that Israeli courts would not condone any of the activities that she ascribes to Israelis. Her letter itself, therefore, rebuts her assertions.
For your information, so you don’t need to go to the Reporter website, here are the letters as published in the SF Reporter May 4-10, 2016 issue:
Why All the Big Guns?
I read the weighted responses to Lena Griffith’s potent angry letter to the editor from major NM-based representatives for the well-organized “not for profit” corporatist heads of ADL, Federation, Chabad etc.
Why all the big guns pointed at an American woman who questions US’s unending support for the Israeli state’s “slo-mo” genocide in Palestine since 1948?
Americans have learned that an Indigenous population oppressed by military occupation and brutal treatment will resist with all they have to end said oppression. Wounded Knee and Vietnam come to mind for Americans. That the US government arms and pays Israel’s government millions of tax dollars every single day to expand and “cleanse” the Indigenous Palestinian population is an outrage to our hearts and minds.
So-called “nonprofits” who wash their donors’ contributions in order to continue funding the criminal 70-year occupation of another people on their own land is a violent slap in the face of thinking and informed Americans, who have observed the pathetic malaise of Congress and UN who allow outright torture and murder of Palestinian children and youth. A child [was] murdered every other day for the last 16 years by those occupiers, with nary a criminal charge against their border police, IDF or illegal settlers who beat, poison wells, attack American laity observers, run over and murder Palestinians routinely.
Psychopathic racism and supremacy reign in that once most “moral army.“ Remember the tens of thousands who gathered in Rabin Square a week ago chanting “Death to Arabs”? That is what people around the world and across North America reject, revile and despise. If you defend such racist, brutal abuse, you are not seeking peace but rather pieces.
‘Thanks’ from Israel
I want to thank Lena Griffith for taking the mask off the endemic hatred of Jews and Israel masquerading as criticism of Israeli policy. She doesn’t even pretend to base her distaste for Israel and Jews on what Israel did after being attacked by Jordan in 1967, but calls “Jewish Zionists and Jewish Israelis” the “new Nazis” because of the last seven decades, making it clear that for her the very existence of the Jewish state is the crime.
Then comes her grand finale, blaming increasing anti-Semitism on the Jews themselves. Thank you, Lena. All intelligent, well-meaning people who read your letter now know the truth behind the demonization of Israel.
Don’t Incite Violence
In her letter to the editor, Lena Griffith writes, “This time, Jews are doing it to themselves.” Whatever her intention is, she needs to realize that this will be heard as a call for violence against our Jewish community. As we saw in a Paris supermarket, bus bombing in Bulgaria, and a JCC in Kansas, the possibility of attacks against Jews is very real. Let us not wait for an incident like that in Santa Fe, God forbid, before we start working to stop bloodshed and terror of any sort.
If we are to disagree, let us do it in an atmosphere where are all safe from violence. The Reporter needs to take responsibility for publishing incitement.
Daniel M Israel,
President Kol BeRamah
Torah Learning Center Santa Fe
Why Print It?
I can’t understand why you would publish such a profoundly anti-Semitic letter. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not to their own facts. To compare the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the genocide of 6,000,000 Jews and millions of other undesirables is simply untrue. If Israel systematically rounded up the Palestinians and gassed them, then this would be a fair analogy. But as the world knows, no such genocide has or will occur.
Further, the Jews that were murdered by the Nazis had done nothing to deserve their fate other than being Jewish. By comparison, Palestinians have sent thousands of rockets at population centers and hundreds of suicide bombers and terrorists to murder Israelis. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complicated, and statements like this letter do nothing more than inflame hatred.
History has shown that if you tell a big lie often enough, people come to believe it. The Nazis convinced millions of Germans, Poles and other Europeans that Jews are rats and vermin. Many of these people were already profoundly anti-Semitic; nonetheless, this lie became reality and allowed hundreds of thousands of people to directly or indirectly participate in the genocide with a clean conscience. We can all agree that killing rats and vermin is a good thing.
I have visited Santa Fe and hate to think this represents your community.
Where are Standards?
Has SFR abandoned all pretense of journalistic standards, or editorial oversight, of what appears in its pages?
Otherwise, what could explain printing Lena Griffith’s blatantly biased, abysmally ill-informed, grossly anti-Semitic letter? Space hardly would suffice to point out all its factual errors. One, though, “medical denial,” was ludicrously perverse. … When Palestinian officials, or family members, are desperately ill, they head to Israel for treatment. That includes close relatives of Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas head, Ismail Haniyeh.
Many ordinary Gazans, West Bank Arabs, even Syrians have been treated in … one of Israel’s many world-class hospitals. One recent example epitomizes Israel’s giving medical ethos. A Syrian toddler, with life-threatening injuries, was evacuated to Israel. It was discovered that she had another life-threatening condition, requiring access to a close relative. An Israeli special forces team was able to enter Syria and bring one back to Israel.
Israel is among the first to send medical rescue teams, as now in Ecuador and Bhutan, as formerly in Haiti and Nepal, to countries, experiencing natural disasters, around the world. This is one of its greatest strengths, so, naturally it is one at which haters of Israel, like Griffith, aim their greatest lies.
Richard D Wilkins
Evaluate the Myths
It is a shame that it takes a committee of five echoing rabbis, three federation fundraisers, two misinformed laymen and an ADL director who still cannot critically evaluate the myths they share that were created expressly for the appropriation of Palestine for the resettlement of Jewish Europeans after WWII. This theft of another people’s land started with a great ethnic cleansing in 1947 (not during the 1948 War of Independence). This mythology has grown into a calumny.
It has grown and been amplified so loudly that a presidential candidate assures a Zionist donor, Haim Saban, of 200,000 murders during the next genocidal attack on Gaza. It grieves me that given the opportunity to do so, Israelis have learned to act just like Nazis. I learned all those same myths regurgitated in the letters in the April 4 Reporter in my first 65 years but managed to evaluate them when I finally faced the truth.
The truth is there; open your eyes. Israel is not what he had hoped and prayed it would be in 1948. Herzl is dead but the Nazi Jabotinski sadly lives in the hearts of those who wish to retain victimhood as their reason for being.
Gerald M Rosen
I cannot fathom how you chose to print this letter by Lena Griffith. It is undisguised hate material. It recycles the old anti-Semitic line that Jews themselves are responsible for the hate visited upon them. Along with the newer, scurrilous canard that Jews and Nazis can somehow be equated. Not to mention minimizing of the Holocaust. Jews “suffered” under the Nazis? Hardly the word to use for genocide which reduced millions of people to smoke and ashes. … I think an apology to your readers would be appropriate, plus editorial guidelines which would prevent such screed from being disseminated by your paper in the future.
Can’t Silence Voices
Having an obvious, orchestrated response to my comment by the tribal Jewish Zionist organizations in New Mexico does not stop the truth of Israeli actions on innocent life from becoming globally transparent. In Santa Fe, a city still suffering from the colonialism of Native American and Hispanics, do Zionists really think they can silence voices for justice? Israel is openly practicing ethnic cleaning and genocide, worse than anything seen in apartheid South Africa, and just as horrific as the Nazis.
Since 1948, Israel has officially killed hundreds of thousands of people “defending” itself in wars and attacks on Arab neighbors. Israel has created the largest unresolved refugee crisis in recorded human history. What happened to the fundamental Jewish commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill’”? It is stolen land, and Palestinians have the right to go home. I stand with the tens of thousands (and growing) of Jewish voices for justice who have openly equated Israel with the Nazis and/or Nazi tactics (Media Benjamin, Miko Peled, Ilan Pappe, Hedy Epstein, Dr. Finklestein, Gilad Atzmon, JVP, etc.). They are my people. All land is holy, and all people are chosen. In time, the “Jewish state” will hurt all Jews. Boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) Israel! L’chaim.