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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fair Witness Questions Whether America Magazine is Biased Against the Jewish State


May 11, 2009

New York, New York

Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

(212) 870-2320

Fair Witness Questions Whether America Magazine is Biased Against the Jewish State

In light of America Magazine's on-going and consistently unfair coverage of the Arab/Israeli conflict, Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East asks if the editors of America harbor a bias against the Jewish state.

One need only look at the last few issues of America to document this apparent bias. While discussing Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land, editor Drew Christiansen laments Israel's "assault on Gaza" without reminding his readers of the eight years of almost non-stop Qassam bombing that preceded and precipitated Israel's invasion. ("Of Many Things," May 11, 2009). In this same article, Fr. Christiansen writes about "Israeli pressures on Palestinians" without putting these pressures (which do exist and which are very problematic) into the context of an on-going battle Israel faces with Palestinian terrorism.

In a May 18th editorial, America singles out Israel as the only country in the Middle East that presents a challenge to President Obama's foreign policy. ("Steering a New Course") Israel's "implicit threat to disarm Iran" is cited as a threat to peace without so much as mentioning that this "implicit threat" is in response to a very real and existential threat Israel faces -- a soon-to-be nuclear Iran's express promise to annihilate Israel.

A review of a book by the former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem ("A Daring Vision," Ed Gaffney, May 18), cites the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians during the 1948 war without citing the analogous dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Jews during that war. The later dispossession of Palestinians during the 1967 war is discussed but the fact that Egypt, Syria and Jordan were the aggressors in the war and fought with the express goal of driving Israel into the sea is not. The review mentions the failed peace summit at Camp David but remains silent as to the fact that it was Yasser Arafat who rejected the Clinton Parameters, opting for years of suicide bombing over a two-state solution that would have given the Palestinians about 97% of the West Bank, all of Gaza and East Jerusalem for a capital.

Even Israeli educational policies provide ammunition for America's relentless assault; the magazine singles out Israel for its lack of teaching about Christianity, without any discussion about how well the Arab states do when it comes to teaching their schoolchildren about religions other than Islam. ("Signs of the Times," May 4, 2009).

"I just do not understand America's approach to the Jewish state," says Rev. Msgr. Dennis L. Mikulanis, pastor of San Rafael Parish, San Diego, California. "All of America's coverage of the state of Israel is negative. There is a constant skewing of history and reality, in a way that seems designed not to educate and inform, but to inflame passions against Israel."

According to Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director, Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, "one can certainly criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic. But there is a point where this criticism crosses a line and can be explained no other way. Any chance to condemn Israel is seized upon and magnified by America, while any opportunity to explain Israel's position or discuss its unquestionable good points is ignored."

"In light of the long history of anti-Semitism within our Church," says Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College, NY, "unbalanced criticism of Israel represents an attitude that is dangerous and irresponsible and at some point has to be challenged."


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