As an occasional-to-frequent pro-Israel advocate in the JTNews letters section — my first letter on Israel and the conflict was in 1999, the year I made my first teaching trip to Israel; my most recent followed my seventh teaching Israel teaching trip this May — it would be easy, but morally and ethically wrong — to agree with letter writer Michael Behar’s desire for JTNews editors to muzzle our Jewish press by only publishing letters and opinion columns that support Israel (“No more criticism,” Aug. 19).
I write that even though Diaspora apologists for Prime Minister Netanyahu and the settlers write letters published in these pages that promote an anti-Israel agenda via advocacy of positions that leading Israeli military and intelligence figures reject. That’s what a free and open press is all about, however dangerous the ideas and opinions. These anti-Israel positions, which show up regularly in the JTNews opinion pages, include knee-jerk support for military solutions to the political conflict; advocacy for maintaining West Bank settlements, and support for recently approved new Jewish housing in Arab East Jerusalem.
While these letter writers threaten and delegitimize Israel’s very existence, I hope to continue seeing them here, however ugly and misguided. A free and open press in American Jewish communities is just as important as an open press in Israel and a free press anywhere.
Sadly, the existence of a free and open press is threatened in far more countries than those that have a free press. Journalists worldwide are targeted for abduction or killings, and many are maimed and murdered for writing about issues of concern, for exposing military, corporate and governmental corruption and investigating wrongdoing in every region and country on earth. Others are maimed and killed while covering wars, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s wars with its neighbors. Let the JTNews editors do their thing.