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 [The dual-loyalty dilemma of Jews living outside Israel]

This is our responsibility as Jews, which obviously contradicts our responsibilities as journalists.


Jewish Bulletin of Northern California'

November 23, 2001


Jewish Journalists Grapple with 'doing the write thing.'

DO Jewish journalists have more obligations than others? Are they responsible first to their communities, and do they need to represent Israel in their newspapers?

These questions and others were raised by the 50 participants of 'Do the Write Thing,' a special program for student journalists sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities held here last week ...

'On campus there is already so much anti-Israeli sentiment that we have to be careful about any additional criticism against Israel,' said Marita Gringaus, who used to write for Arizona State University's newspaper.

'This is our responsibility as Jews, which obviously contradicts our responsibilities as journalists.' Gringaus explained her position by saying that in the campus media, 'groups are set against each other rather than as objective views.'

Uzi Safanov, a writer at the Seawanhaka newspaper of Long Island University in New York, agreed. 'I'm a Jew before being a journalist, before someone pays me to write,' he said. 'If I find a negative thing about Israel, I will not print it and I will sink into why did it happen and what can I do to change it.'

Safanov said that even if he eventually wrote about negative incidents that happen in Israel, he would try to find the way 'to shift the blame.' Others among the participants felt uncomfortable with these suggestions.

"They reinforce that, as Jews in the media, you have responsibly to help Israel. This is not reporting; this is PR," she said. "I am Zionist, but it doesn't mean you can't be critical of what happens in Israel."

Still, Meyers feels a loyalty to Jewish values. "It doesn't matter if you are a journalist or in another profession," she said. "Our Jewish values influence every aspect of our lives. Nobody can be totally objective because we all come with our own perspective, our own biases, and that is going to come through in the writing."

Leni Reiss, the American Jewish Press Association liaison to the conference, said one can never be 100 percent objective, "but (as a Jew) you can bring your unique knowledge, your unique sensitivity to the job that you do, and it's not necessarily a bad thing."


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