Working with the Media – KSFR and New Mexican; Other News

This posting includes the following:

  1. KSFR solicits input and expertise.
  2. New Mexican clarifies letter and op-ed submission requirements.
  3. Not too late to sign up for the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC
  4. Helping Israeli-Ethiopians.
  5. Missed Dennis Ross’ talk on February 15?  You are in luck…Set your DVR for Saturday night.

1. KSFR Solicits Input and Expertise

At the initiative of SFMEW and ADL-New Mexico Region, and on the invitation of KSFR Board President Peter Smith, on February 6, 2017 members of the Santa Fe Jewish Community met with four KSFR board members, and KSFR Station Manager Tazbah McCullah.  We are soliciting from you, our members, and other members of the Jewish community at large, suggestions for content experts and advisory board or full board members on behalf of KSFR.  Keep reading for more details.

The purpose of the meeting was twofold:

a. From the Jewish community:  to thank KSFR for their rapid action on the Camp Lovewave issue and sensitivity to our community’s concerns, and

b. For KSFR:  to provide an opportunity to explore ways it and the Jewish community can interact and help the KSFR board and management achieve their quest to enhance their programming, be more inclusive of various viewpoints, and increase responsible community involvement.

KSFR recently has been designated as a Corporation for Public Broadcasting station, and are serious about upgrading the quality of their programming.  In their first steps toward this quest, KSFR is re-training producers and on-air talk hosts re: contemporary practices. They are looking to orient toward more local hard news and broader opinions from the community at large.

Some programming and other ideas that were expressed by the group:

  • Positive things that are developed from the State of Israel.
  • How to improve the economy of New Mexico by looking at how Israel has developed over the past 30 years in high tech, arts, academics, etc.
  • Provide interview opportunities to talk show hosts for speakers coming into the community.
  • Permit broader input from moderate and conservative listeners and commentators on a regular basis.
  • Ethical issues facing us in society: medical, political, international, local.
  • Philosophical underpinnings of policy and living.
  • Full context foreign policy discussions, especially regarding the Middle East, rather than almost exclusively left-biased (Amy Goodman).
  • Point and counter-point discussants. Few issues have only one solution or point of view.
  • Have radio talk show hosts and producers visit with various Jewish community groups to explain their show purposes and solicit ideas from those different Jewish viewpoints.
  • Hold a reception between producers/radio hosts and the Jewish community for informal discussions of various options.

Peter then asked the Jewish Community to solicit and provide to him or Tazbah:

a. A list of content and well-informed opinion individuals with background expertise as local resources for talk show hosts.  This does not have to be Judaism or Israel-related.  If you or someone you know should be included in this request, please send a brief description of the individual, contact information (email and phone), and area(s) of expertise to  We will compile the list and submit it to KSFR.  Deadline to submit:  April 30, 2017.

b. Members for an advisory council and for the Board itself. They are especially looking for filling the board with a more diverse viewpoint, including younger members.  If you or someone you know would like to be considered for such a position, please contact Board President Peter Smith:, or Station Manager Tazbah McCullah:

We have been pleased to develop this relationship with KSFR.  SFMEW would like to develop similar close and respectful relationships with other media outlets.  If you have contacts or hear broadcasts where we can be helpful please be sure to let us know, particularly if they cover Israel-related items (positively or negatively).

2.  New Mexican clarifies letter and op-ed submission requirements.

Regular careful readers of our blog postings will recall the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Bill Stewart and Gerald Rosen calumnies we reported on at the beginning of this year, as well as the distortions resulting from the editing done on Susan Goldstein’s letter to the editor about Stewart’s “false facts.”  In follow-up to these issues and others Rabbi Berel Levertov, Kristina Harrigan, and Halley Faust met with the New Mexican’s editorial page editor, Inez Russell Gomez, on March 13, 2017, to discuss our community’s concerns.

This was a cordial and wide-ranging discussion, including our comments/critique of the New Mexican’s coverage of Israel:

  • Stewart’s and other anti-Israel viewpoints/letters are factually incorrect (as pointed out in Goldstein’s letter) or missing context, thereby distorting the meaning of facts.
  • There is not a balance between anti-Israel regular viewpoints, like Stewart’s or scurrilous letters from Rosen, and pro-Israel or neutral viewpoints.
  • While the editorial page doesn’t cover news, we’d ask them to convey to the news side that we are disappointed that pro-Israel events are rarely covered.  The most recent example:  Pasatiempo included a pre-lecture interview with Lannan Foundation speaker Eileen Myles, but ignored our request for similar interviews with Dennis Ross or Bassem Eid.  Nor did they cover our speakers as news articles after-the-fact.
  • When reprinting Washington Post, NY Times, or Associated Press articles or editorials, they need to still fact check.  CAMERA often finds errors and gets them corrected, and the AP has a very biased way of collecting and reporting in the Middle East (see Matti Friedman’s critique in the Atlantic from 2014).

Ms. Russell Gomez was very open about their process.  She was not defensive and recognized that with some issues they could do better.  They have a limited staff (herself and a halftime letters editor, Jan Shlain, whom we also met briefly) and have to process many letters and op-ed (“My View” or “Commentary”) submissions daily.  She stated that they try to print all letters received so long as they (1) are not libelous, (2) do not foment hatred or harm to individuals or groups, (3) have accurate facts (when posited), and (4) are not simply news-oriented or event-oriented.  Each letter or op-ed has a better chance of being printed in a timely way if they conform with these four criteria and:

  1. Are within word limitations of 150 words for a letter to the editor, and 600 words for a My View when submitted.
  2. Include sources of facts at the end of the piece – not for publication, but to ease the editor’s fact-checking requirements.

These two criteria help reduce the back-and-forth between editor and submitter, enhancing the speed of publication and reducing the editor’s workload per submission.

Your chances of having a letter or op-ed accepted are high.  Please keep watch and respond by writing regularly, especially when you receive an action alert from SFMEW.

Finally, are you a cartoonist?  When we complained that nearly all of the Israel-related cartoons they print are anti-Israel, Ms. Russell Gomez stated that they don’t see pro-Israel cartoons in their regular sources.  They would be happy to consider publishing cartoons from local cartoonists.  Encourage your friends, children, spouses, or others with drawing and irony talent to put pen-to-paper as another way to express themselves.  Submit cartoons directly to the editor: (505-986-3053).

We thank Ms. Russell Gomez and Shlain for their time the other day.

3.  It’s not too late to sign up for the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, March 26-28.  

Join over 18,000 pro-Israel activists to learn more about what really is going on in the Middle East from experts in the field, and about the legislative agenda to keep Israel safe and secure.  All of the major political leaders in Washington will be speaking, including Vice President Mike Pence, the House and Senate majority and minority leaders (McConnell, Schumer, Pelosi, McCarthy, and Hoyer), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and even Rwanda President Paul Kagame, and former Prime Ministers Tony Blair (UK) and Stephen Harper (Canada).  Sign up now:

4.  Helping Israeli-Ethiopians.

On February 26, 2017, the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival held a terrific half-day event about the struggles of the Ethiopian aliyot in 1984, 1991, and ongoing contemporary acculturation issues through the film, Red Leaves, and Ethiopian-Israel speaker and filmmaker Avishai Mekonen.  Yasher Koach to Marcia Torobin for producing such a wonderful day (and getting an excellent caterer).

There are many ways you can help Israeli-Ethiopians by donating through the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry ( for their programs:

  • Limudiah: Intensive After-School Education Programs
  • Buying an Ethiopian-Jewish embroidery ($110/each)
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah Twinning Program (minimum $280)
  • Sponsoring a High School Student (minimum $350)
  • Sponsoring a College Student (minimum $1,320/ year or $110/ month)

You can also help Avishai tell more of his story.  He sent this note and request to SFMEW:

I’d like to let you know about my current film under production, Heroes, a feature documentary that chronicles the activism undertaken by Ethiopian, Israeli, and North American activists and politicians that took place from the 1970s – early 1990s to make the aliyah of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel happen.  I know I didn’t talk about this new film while I was there, but it is a main focus of my work right now. Please take a look at the short trailer and full description at this link: 
The film is half-way through production, and we are currently doing a fundraising campaign to get us through the next stage which is to complete the filming part of the process. We are looking to raise $35,000 so that we can interview about 15 Ethiopian-Israeli activists and others who were integral to the aliyah. We are under time constraints as many of these activists are now elderly, and many have already passed. We are hoping to interview them in Israel as soon as possible before it’s too late. This summer would be an ideal time for this film shoot.
To make a tax-deductible in support of the documentary film “Heroes”, go to   Make sure to select “Heroes” from the drop down field where it says, “I would like my donation to go to.”  All donations in support of “Heroes,” will be issued a tax receipt by Friends of Ethiopian Jews, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization supporting effective, grassroots Ethiopian Israeli programs and projects.  Tax ID No.06-1512486.

5.  Missed Dennis Ross’ talk on February 15?  You are in luck…

We’ve mentioned in prior blog postings that if you missed the Dennis Ross event you can hear his talk on our website here.  Also, we’d like to thank Son Broadcasting, and station KCHF (channel 11) for advertising Ambassador Ross’ events in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and for John Sandager’s excellent interview of Ambassador Ross.  This interview was taped on February 16, and first aired on February 18 on the program “Israel in Focus.”  It will be replayed this Saturday night, March 18, at 8:00 pm.  Set your DVR to record it – you’ll be richly rewarded.

Santa Fe Middle East Watch is a beneficiary organization of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.