WITH AXES TO GRIND
Within hours of Benjamin Netanyahu's victory in the Israeli elections, a prominent American Jewish leftist was on the op-ed page of a major New York daily newspaper, calling on the Jewish community to "openly oppose Netanyahu's program," and proposing that U.S. aid, and U.S. Jewish donations to Israel be slashed unless Netanyahu agrees to the creation of a PLO state.
The phenomenon of Jewish leftists publicly attacking Israel in this manner is hardly new; it dates back to the early 1970s. What was surprising about this particular declaration was the identity of its author: Walter Ruby, who for the past decade or so has posed as a "neutral journalist" in his job as a reporter for the Long Island Jewish World and other Jewish newspapers.
Those who have followed Ruby's career carefully know that there were earlier hints of his political partisanship. In 1978, for example, Ruby signed a Peace Now ad in the Jerusalem Post. And in 1988, he authored a New York Times op-ed in which he argued that
Arab terrorist leader Abu Abbas had been misunderstood when he said of Leon Klinghoffer, "Maybe he was trying to swim for it." Still, Ruby's new public attack on the Israeli government, with its suggestion for cutting aid to Israel, goes far beyond his previous writings and activities. And it comes on the heels of a bizarre essay by Ruby,
distributed by the Jewish Communication Network (an e-mail service), in which he suggests that many blacks are anti-Semitic because "the owner of the over-priced clothing store down the block is a Jew" and declares that every nation, "even the Germans," has "had its scoundrels and its visionaries; has committed monstrous cruelties and has made towering contributions to world civilization. We are no different."
For the editors of the Long Island Jewish World and Ruby's other outlets, the solution is obvious: stop pretending Ruby is an objective reporter, and move his articles to the editorial pages, where he should appear no more frequently than other opinionated individuals from
the right, left and center.
But for the American Jewish community, the Ruby phenomenon is a warning sign about a broader problem in the field of Jewish information.
A significant portion of the Jewish news that average American Jews read is whatever appears in their local Jewish weekly newspaper. Major stories appear in the general press; most Jewish news events are reported only in the Jewish weeklies.
A significant portion of the news that appears in the average Jewish weekly newspaper (aside from that provided by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which is a separate topic) originates from a handful of Jewish reporters in New York and Washington.
Walter Ruby is on the staff of the Long Island Jewish World, but his articles are syndicated to other Jewish newspapers around the country. Larry Cohler is on the staff of the New York Jewish Week, but his articles likewise appear
in many other Jewish papers. Douglas Bloomfield and James Besser serve as the Washington D.C. correspondents for numerous Jewish papers. What Ruby, Cohler, Bloomfield and Besser have in common is that they all have political axes to grind. They slant their reporting to favor
the agenda of the Jewish left. They frequently allot generous space to prominent leftists such as Thomas Smerling of Nishma and Gail Pressberg of Americans for Peace Now. Besser et al will never tell their readers that Smerling was formerly a leader of New Jewish Agenda or that Pressberg spent many years
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