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Friday, March 19, 2004

Time flies when you're having fun


Funny how things coincide - just at the time I am reconsidering my blog, someone comes along (thanks to Rick) and asks me to write an essay about the recent correspondence I've had with the NY Times Public Editor, within the context of my pro-Israel blogging -- for a paper. Now I not only have to rethink and reconsider my blog, but I have to structure these thoughts and write them down.

Before I knew about blogging, I spent a solid year writing to the press and various others, objecting to their bias against Israel -- objections, rants, letters to editors, unsolicited guest opinions and op-eds. I wrote hundreds of letters; most remain unanswered. My tone back then was very different, absolutely outraged, extremely angry, and in complete disbelief that such things could appear in print. Little did I know what was to come, or how quickly things would deteriorate. The phrase, "new low," is laughable at this point - there is one every day or so.

If I ever get the story written, I'll post it or link to it, and if I don't blog so much in the next few days, it's because I'm trying to write this story of my own evolution amidst a crumbling reality.

It's not easy - in order to procrastinate, I get completely distracted by emails I wrote "back then." For example, in August '02, I wrote to The New York Times, asking why certain remarks by Secretary Rumsfeld had been omitted fom their coverage.

This is what Rumsfeld said, according to Arutz Sheva:
"My feeling about the so-called occupied territories are that there was a war, Israel urged neighboring countries not to get involved in it once it started, they all jumped in, and they lost a lot of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in that conflict. In the intervening period, they've made some settlements in various parts of the so-called occupied area, which was the result of a war, which they won."

This is how the Times conveyed it - page A6, column 1, 8/9/2002, of 1087 total words:
In remarks in an open meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sharply criticized the Palestinian Authority, referred dismissively to disputed lands in the West Bank and Gaza as ''the so-called occupied territories.'' Apparently referring to a Palestinian state, he said only that at some point ''there will be some sort of entity that will be established.''

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments were hailed in the Israeli press as ''an unusual pro-Israeli appearance,'' as Maariv, a Hebrew-language daily, put it, and denounced by the Palestinian information minister, Yasir Abed Rabbo, as an example of ''the position of the extreme right in the American administration.''

Mr. Rumsfeld insisted that there was not ''a dime's worth of difference'' between his views and those of Mr. Bush and Secretary Powell.

Carl Lavin, News Editor for the Times, replied to me that "Editors and reporters are constantly making decisions balancing the importance of what people say and what the comments mean."

On the other hand, I got a very gracious and prompt reply from the writer, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent for the Times, Todd Purdum:
You make a very fair point, and I can only say that we were aware of the remarks when they were made, sought to get them in the paper promptly, and for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with a desire to suppress the remarks, only managed to do so this morning. It was, more than anything, a case of not having a "Middle East" story to plug the comments into, but, I can assure you, your frustration mirrors my own.

Thanks again for reading The Times and for taking the time to write. I hope you will keep on keeping us honest.

Have I kept on, "keeping them honest"? Not really, but then, is it possible? Is blogging better? I don't know, but I'm starting to think that as a collective, the pro-Israel blogosphere could very well become a mighty tool. Gd help us.

Good Shabbos.
with love and hope for Israel,
Yael