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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 06:40 PM CDT

It’s time for the media to talk about Zionism

Middle East

Last week, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan characterized me as "the anti-Zionist Jewish-American journalist who writes about the Middle East." That's my reputation; I can't take exception to her words. But when Sullivan quoted Jeffrey Goldberg, she did not say he was Jewish or a Zionist--or that he had once emigrated to Israel because he believed that America was unsafe for Jews, and served as an officer in Israel's army before coming back here and recommending Israel's militant policy toward Arabs to America.

It’s time for the media to talk about Zionism

by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss
December 4, 2012 168

Last week, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan characterized me as "the anti-Zionist Jewish-American journalist who writes about the Middle East." That's my reputation; I can't take exception to her words. But when Sullivan quoted Jeffrey Goldberg, she did not say he was Jewish or a Zionist--or that he had once emigrated to Israel because he believed that America was unsafe for Jews, and served as an officer in Israel's army before coming back here and recommending Israel's militant policy toward Arabs to America.

Sullivan's double standard is indefensible, but it is typical of a standard of censorship in our journalism. American media are not talking to their readers about Zionism. They are not even attempting to describe the ideology that is at the heart of the problem in Israel and Palestine. The media are honest with their audiences about other movements of a religious character, from evangelism to opposition to stem-cell research to radical Islam. So they should be honest with them about Zionism.

Zionism is a 115-year-old movement inside Jewish life that says there is a need for a Jewish state in Palestine because Jews are unsafe in the west and Jews have a biblical connection to Palestine. Some people say that this is too complicated a concept to explain to Americans. (Norman Finkelstein joked that Zionism might as well be a hairspray and it’s irrelevant to the discussion at the New School in October). I don’t think so. Beliefs are very important; and Americans have a right to know why so many American Jews believe in the need for Israel at a time when this concept is warping our foreign policy.

It's not enough for a reporter to say that someone is pro-Israel. Zionism draws on a person's worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life. It is often a core understanding that drives that person's positions in other areas (see Neoconservatism). And it is deeply enmeshed in the official Jewish community.

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