June 7, 2001
Mideast Media Bias
I cannot adequately express how thankful I am for your running these stories ("Is This Balanced Reporting?" May 25). I know that all the people at CAMERA who work so hard, in what is certainly a frustrating effort to counter the unbalanced reporting (especially when dealing with The New York Times, CNN, NPR, etc.), will be thrilled and delighted with this edition.
As one of the 1,500 volunteer writers for CAMERA, it made my heart rejoice that if I cannot change them, I can at least make them suffer just a little in exchange for the major suffering they cause Israel. It made all the time I put in worthwhile.
Again, thank you for the mitzvah you have performed.
Harold L. Katz, Los Angeles
Your recent critique of bias at the Los Angeles Times in covering Israel ("Journalists Behaving Badly," May 25) was an example of the often myopic attitudes of many American Jews when it comes to this issue. While I don't speak for the newspaper, this is a matter of interest to me as a journalist, a Times employee and a fairly observant Jew.
As concerned Jews, we are often so emotionally connected to the traumas of Israel that we see only what bothers us. The solid day-to-day reporting is forgotten and perceptions of bias by Arabs are not recognized.
Nothing sums this up better than the Orthodox Union's Dr. Larry Eisenberg's question about what statistics a word-frequency program would find looking at how often the term "Israeli" is accompanied by the word "intransigence." I did a computer search of 3,154 stories with the word "Israeli" published in the Times over the past three years. After subtracting letters to the editor and commentaries, "intransigence" appeared in just 15 Times news and wire stories. Five times it was Israelis talking of Arab intransigence. Six times it was Arabs talking about Israelis.
Certainly I am sober enough to know that bias does exist, and on occasion it spins news reports. As professionals, we need to be vigilant in fighting that. But it will take more sophisticated analysis than general impressions to document the exact patterns of newspaper bias.
Jerry Hirsch, via e-mail
The heartfelt and persuasive editorial by Rob Eshman ("Westside Renewal," May 18) emphasizing the value of JCCs merits examination. JCCs are so incredibly valuable because they provide virtually the only adult Jewish environment that is religiously and politically neutral. It is not only this aspect, though, that is important. They provide an extensive amount of Jewish culture. Judaism's great cultural heritage -- its literature, dance, humor, food and so on -- needs to be integrated more fully into communal efforts to promote Jewish identity.
Lawrence J. Epstein, Stony Brook, NY
It was with great interest that I read your edition on Anne Frank ("The Never-Ending Story," May 18). I just had the rare privilege to be present at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. for a private screening of the latest film about Anne Frank, produced by ABC/Walt Disney.
The reason for my having been invited to this special occasion was the fact that both the director, Robert Dornhelm, as well of the author of the biography of Anne Frank, Melissa Muller, are Austrian citizens.
I am mentioning this to underline the efforts taken by many of my fellow countrymen and women to look actively at this very dark side of our history and to work toward preventing anything like the horrors of the Holocaust from repeating themselves. I would like to assure you and the esteemed readers of The Jewish Journal that I shall try to make my very personal contribution to this end as well.
Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Austrian Consul General to Los Angeles
Thank you for publishing as your cover the full-color photograph of Hannah Taylor Gordon as Anne Frank -- a picture revealing a young woman's almost unbearable sensitivity, heartbreak and unshakable spirit.
Ronald Lotz, Westlake Village
The venom spewed forth by Jordan Elgrably's letter (Letters, May 25) demonstrated his ignorance of the situation in the Middle East. His credibility would have been somewhat enhanced had he spoken with equal venom of the Palestinians and their heinous acts, but his attacks are directed at the Israelis.
He must have been spelunking when the Clinton/Barak plan was put forth. We were all aghast at the profound changes offered to Arafat and even further aghast at Arafat's refusal of the plan. After all, that plan would have given the Palestinians virtually all they putatively had been seeking, including a generous approach to the refugee problem. The inevitable conclusion, it seems, is that the only plan that would satisfy the Palestinians is the destruction of Israel.
Since Elgrably is interested in cultural exchange, a worthy cause, perhaps he should best spend his time trying to remove the anti-Israel venom from Arab children's schoolbooks. If he succeeded, he would, indeed, be worthy of an award.
Jack Salem, Los Angeles
In the May 25 Circuit, the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA) was improperly listed as a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. JHA does not receive an annual allocation from The Federation.