raised eyebrow to the Jewish News

by tobybee

Oh Jewish News, What Were You Thinking? (aka, the AJN says the darndest things)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a community newspaper—such things can have an important place in a community, providing connections between people and sharing ideas. The problem with the Jewish News is not just its insularity. Its problem is much more significantly that it promotes an incredibly conservative worldview and that it limits the terms of debate.

For instance (and we’ll go into this article more in a later post) in this weeks edition there is an article by Philip Mendes which explores ‘anti-Zionist Jews’. He concludes that these people are not practicing Jews in any way, and that they claim a Jewish identity merely to attack Israel: that the only source of their Jewishness is Israel-hatred. Indeed, that they should not be considered to be Jewish.

Besides the fact that he’s just plain wrong (as we know—because of the Bund, because of Hannah Arendt, and because of many others historically and today—there are many ways to be Jewish, many of them non-Zionist), what his article points to is a circumscribing of discussion and debate. These people don’t need to be listened to and taken seriously, he argues, because they are not really Jewish. To be Jewish you need to be Zionist. And so the terms of what it is to be Jewish are defined and limited; in one movement expelling people from this culture, politics, religion and identity.


So while it might be an easy target, it’s an important newspaper for us to dissect, particularly because of the control it exerts. Newspapers define the languages we use, the terms of discussion and debate we can participate in. So each week (or at least that’s the plan, it might only go for a couple of weeks. we’ll see) we’ll explore the AJN, bringing out some articles which stood out as shining examples of the ideas and problems which this blog seeks to write against.