The letters that follow this are in response to a letter from a member of our community that ran in the August 16 issue of JTNews. This person, who the respondents below see as vehemently critical of Israel, suggested that comments made by the president of the Palestinian Authority differ from what these writers believe. That they have a difference of opinion is natural and appropriate. We are proud of this paper’s commitment to the concept of free speech, which allows JTNews to present different facets of what these writers see as flaws in their opponent’s argument. What is not appropriate is that some — not all — of these letter writers do not believe the person they are responding to should be allowed a forum in the pages of this newspaper to express her views.
Let me be clear: We are a community newspaper. We represent our entire community. While I, as editor, do not agree with every letter I receive, it does not mean we will not print them. As a community newspaper we must represent the whole community, whether or not the views expressed comport with our beliefs.
It is also inappropriate to tie our policy of allowing controversial letters in our pages to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Yes, the Federation owns JTNews, but we are an independent entity. The Federation does not approve our content, the Federation does not pay our salaries, and the opinions of our contributors do not have to reflect the opinion of the Federation. If we are to have an independent Jewish newspaper in our community, that is the way it should be.
Suggesting, as some critics of us running this letter have done, that people suspend their donations to the Federation because we print letters that represent opinions contrary to theirs is not only odious, it’s counterproductive. Pulling support from the Federation will not change our letters policy, but it harms our community as a whole.
A vibrant Jewish community needs a vibrant newspaper to cover and report what’s happening all across its spectrum. As Rabbi Sholom Ber Levitin stated in his Rabbi’s Turn column two weeks ago, which ran on the same page as this letter being protested: “As we prepare ourselves for the New Year, standing before the Almighty unified as one people in order to realize that unity, the challenge is to further develop and sensitize ourselves to true mutual respect.”
Our letters guidelines can be found here: www.jtnews.net/index.php?/static/item/611/.
May you all enter the New Year with a sense of reflection and respect for each other.