An Inadequate Report on the Jewish Press-
!: A Reply to An Evaluator of Our Newspapers
Analyses of Religious
o u e d"ish
, sh, z l Is w
in M.E. Issue
These "a-denominational weeklies" merit better understand-
ing and more serious consideration. Unlike the church peri-
By MILTON FRIEDMAN
Deepening interest in inter-faith relations in this country has odicals, only a handful of our weeklies are subsidized as a
(Copyright, 1963, JTA, Inc.)
inspired a study of the newspapers - and periodicals published result of their having been acquired as properties by Federations
WASHINGTON — Africans
W by and for the three major faiths, and what has been described in their communities. The others have a struggle, but, in the who share the same continent
by the publishers, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, as "the first main, they function with a sense of responsibility. Of course, with Egyptian President Nasser
book-length study of this subject" appears in "The Religious they publish social items but they also cover important local are less convinced than are
Press in America." its authors are the Protestant Martin E. news, and those that are in position provide fullest worldwide American diplomats of Nasser's
E-4 Marty, the Catholic evaluator John E. Deddy, Jr., editor of the news coverage as provided for them by the Jewish Telegraphic peaceful intentions toward Is-
Pittsburgh Catholic, and Rabbi David W. Silverman of Riverdale, Agency.
• N. Y. There is a concluding essay by Prof. Robert Lekachman
Even in the smallest American Jewish communities, whose
The State Department line
of Barnard College on "The Secular Uses of the Religious Press." weeklies must, of necessity, be limited anywhere from four to has been that Nasser has put
Let it be said at the outset to the credit of the collaborating 12 pages per issue, it is through the bait of social news that . I the Israel situation into the "ice
1 authors of this book that they are self-critical and that they the readers also are provided with national and foreign news. box." From this strange ice box,
• propose. methods of improving the functioning religious
Rabbi Silverman quotes this reviewer. He takes exception raiders have gone forth in re-
cr, ▪ peri6dicals.
to this statement in an article in The Journalist (London, De- 1 cent weeks to penetrate Israeli
Martin E. Marty, El Grove, Ill., Lutheral minister, who also I cember, 1961), in which he said that our papers are "the territory. Odors emanating from
has just collaborated with the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph Moody and spiritual
guardian of Judaism in America." It is this reviewer's ;the Arab ice box indicate that
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg in the book "The Outbursts That Await
j Nasser's German chefs are cook-
▪ Us," published by Macmillan,. and reviewed in The Jewish News contention that . the major aspect our English-Jewish weeklies, ing up a potent cuisine. The
• last week, declaring that "the Protestant churches deserve a self-
every Friday," reaches more of our people than do our syna- asparagus smells like rockets,
critical press; the natural community would be better served by gogues; that without these weeklies there would
be no links and the mushroom sauce could
ctt one," proposes:
between our people and their communities—and their synagogues be a delightful propellant com-
"Consolidation of periodicals . . . into a less programmatic —and that whatever is built up for the three-day-a-year perform- pound.
4.1 but more fruitful cluster of magazines; more venture by Prot- ances would be further curtailed if it were not for the spiritual
A typical African evaluation
estant churches; redirection of energies; dropping `saturation' guardianship of our weekly newspapers.
I of Nasser's true attitude emerg-
news which trivializes the whole enterprise; employ Associated
Rabbi Silverman paid this reviewer a compliment: he stated ' ed in Lagos, Nigeria. The West
Church Press . . . to new ends and devote similar energies to
African Pilot there said "the
creative experiments in religious journalism." His criticism of in a footnote that the above quoted claim of spiritual guardian- Chinese dragon and our own
the Protestant press is that it is "committed to ministering to
President Nasser are the only
the compartmentalization and columnization of life in a free ship and insight." It was offered not to jar but as a reality. two persons still using the lan-
society." He states that the Protestant periodicals "are not to a later quotation from
ge u a c g e,,
e. of war, when everybody
The Journalists article about the
ordinarily audience-centered or witness-centered, but program- "exclusion of the English-Jewish
else in the world is talking of
centered", that "When they are house organs for denomination
functions." That, too, since Rabbi Silverman admits
or agents for institutions, they are usually used to stimulate conferring
The newspaper said that
it was written "with justice", was intended to deal with a
fund raising and carry out programs." This has a familiar note, reality.
Africans could not be too en-
about house organs, applicable to all faiths.
over Nasser and
This reviewer takes primary exception to the unfair treat- thusiastic
John G. Deedy's analysis of the Catholic press describes its
"the warmongering (anti-
modern evolution "when a whole body of bright young laymen ment given by Rabbi Silverman to the Jewish Telegraphic Israel) speech delivered last
. . . brought with them the intelligent zeal of the great lay Agency. He knows about the JTA's financial difficulties and week to his legions returning .
journalists of the 19th century; most possessed an early maturity therefore saw fit to inject into his discussion the fact that from the Yemeni war." It is
honed by military service; some had experience in the daily JTA has had to turn to the Jewish Agency and to Jewish the opinion of the newspaper
press; and all claimed in common a confident, positive outlook." communities for financial assistance. Apparently he does not that Nasser's call on the Egyp-
"A focused Catholic press," he states, "functioning less on know, and like so many others regrettably does not understand, tian Army to prepare to wipe
the denominational plane and more in the 'temporal' order., what and how much was and is involved in the functions of out "the shame of Palestine"
would have the double advantage of doing away with current an agency that was alone able to survive as a news gathering is "an obvious indication of
attitudes of spiritual adolescence and, in the process, making medium for world Jewry.
preparedness to go to war
The first JTA difficulties arose in 1929, when it incurred, his
itself and its reader more relevant."
"The Catholic press," Mr. Deedy asserts, "is fortunate in in a period of a few weeks, a deficit of more than a half
According to the West Afri-
being able to draw on many bright examples in the life of million dollars in cable costs covering the Arab riots. Thereafter can Pilot, Africans are not, or
Pope John XXII" whose "masterful guide for peace- in an there were recurring obligations, the era of Nazism, during the should not be, involved in Arab
orderly world," was "significantly addressed to 'all men of good war, when the DP camps were being liquidated and when or Near Eastern politics. It asks
will.' " He concludes: "So much of the fear and distrust that Israel was born. Even the vast American journalistic fraternity if Nasser sees his country as
accumulated over the centuries was dispelled by that gentle and could not have borne those burdens.
belonging to the African conti-
No other Jewish agency, anywhere on earth, provides
beloved Pope. In correlation, there has developed an air of
nent. Reference is made to a
understanding, mutual trust, and, yes, fraternal love in which the services that are disseminated through the world's Jewish question raised at the Addis
men of good will of all creeds can come together for the press. Its expanded localized features and news reports in Ababa conference, and Egypt is
exchange of ideas and discussion about their hopes, problems; the past two years include thorough coverage of religious asked to decide whether it be-
and resolves. This is the spirit in which the Catholic press must and community news on the domestic scene. If there are longs to the Near East or to
now get. to work. It is the spirit, the mood of `aggiornamento,' shortcomings they are the normal defects and deficiencies Africa.
in which Pope Paul VI appears to have launched his pontificate." ascribable to lack of means and unavailability of community
Another African newspa-
cooperation. If JTA were to be removed from the scene,
per, the Daily Telegraph, said,
These two studies not only provide an understanding of the American and world Jewries would lose the strongest factor
according to the Nigerian
journalistic ventures in Protestantism and Catholicism but also that binds our people together into one entity.
radio, that since the Suez War
will lead to a new understanding of some of the approaches to
the Jewish press: "Despite a career dating back to 1919, it of 1956 "President Nasser has
made it a policy to create
The major concern of this review understandably is the (JTA) is woefully inefficient with regard to news of Jewish confusion in the Near East
portion by Rabbi David W. Silverman that is devoted to "The religious institutions. Because of its financial dependence upon while indulging in irrespon-
the Jewish Agency, American Section, items about Israel and
sible statements and utter-
The German, Yiddish, Hebrew and English periodicals that Zionist affairs receive top priority in ordering the flow of ances." The Daily Telegraph
have been and continue to be published in this country - in
commented that Nasser's call
behalf of the Jewish communities are evaluated here. Rabbi rehabilitation would seem to be the main business and spiritual for war preparations against
Silverman overlooks the brief history of the Ladino press which armature of American Jews, if one is to take seriously the Israel "must be unpleasant to
came to an end with the appearance of the final number of number of news items devoted to this matter by the Jewish the ears of peace-loving peo-
La Vara, which was published in New York, on Jan. 23, 1948. Telegraphic Agency."
There is something ludicrious about this comment, Neither ples of the world at a time
He also fails to take into account the popularity of the
nor the editors have been able to overcome the when the world is rejoicing
progressive and highly successful German language Jewish
over-emphasis on fund-raising as opposed to cultural and over the nuclear test - ban
weekly. Aufbau, published in New York.
Rabbi Silverman's study of the Jewish press is more a spiritual activities in this country. Yet, Rabbi Silverman pins
President Julius K. Nyere, of
sociological study of the labor movement than it is of the
Tanganyika, recently visited
Jewish press as such. While, in this process, he has performed
Washington as a guest of the
creditably in his analysis of the Yiddish newspapers, tracing press, that the Jewish portion of "The Religious Press in United States Government. He
their history, dissecting their contents and their religious con- America" emerges as a disservice.
Rabbi Silverman found it necessary to charge that JTA news found it necessary to defend
flicts, taking note of the eminent editors who guided the
and oversimplified," and he wrote glorifying about his country's relations with Is-
Yiddish press, he is not thorough enough in his historical
he selected as noteworthy which, in reality, have nn rael, and Israel's role in Africa.
evaluations. He could have given better consideration to the
journalism. He charged one of his favorites Faced with hostile, pro-Arab
period of the appearance of Die Zeit and there was an era
questioning at the National
when the weekly Yiddish press was far richer than he realizes. with "sensationalism," yet he selected it as noteworthy when it, Press Club, the Tanganyikan
in reality, is third rate because it does not subscribe to JTA
It is when he deals with the English-Jewish press that his and
President came to Israel's de-
does not cover the world scene.
essay is inadequate. The Jewish press is vastly different from
fense. He was asked to comment
either the Protestant or the Catholic. While the latter also, in
on the concern of Egypt over
many instances, covers worldwide Jewish news, it does not evaluated the shortcomings of the communities, the failure of Israeli "neo-Colonialism" in
begin to approach the intensity of interest and purpose which
Africa and the alleged dangers
motivates our newspapers in their efforts to bring to their a single good English-Jewish newspaper. The vacuities in Jewish constituted by Israel to African
readers all the Jewish news, wherever they may develop, whence life are in the communities, not in the press. But it seems safer unity. Referring obviously to
to criticize the press than the synagogue administrations. Look
they may emanate.
the Egyptians, President Ny-
True—only a handful of the larger newspapers are able to your laurels, Rabbi Silverman!
erere replied that some of his
to thus to cover the entire scene. But when Rabbi Silverman
country's avowed friends were
A Michigan Puzzle: 'Governor's Prayer Breakfast'
sees fit to state,
not true friends. He said: "We
"Although it would he unfair to characterize the weeklies
At a time when many theologians and laymen are debating pick our friends and we don't
as 'gossip gazettes,' there are issues (usually December and the issue involved in the traditional American separation principle, allow our 'friends' to pick
June, the favored months for weddings) in which the plethora
we are presented with an insoluable puzzle.
emies for us."
of social items rivals the hard news in space allotted,"
We have been invited to a "Governor's Prayer Breakfast," to
He emphasized that "we don't
he fails to admit that the months he has mentioned are similarly be held in Lansing on Sept. 11.
believe that our relations with
the plethora periods for the entire American press; that the
The program, in addition to "remarks" by Governor George Israel undermine African un-
English-Jewish press merely follows a national pattern; and as Romney, includes the participation of a number of Michigan ity.". He stressed that Tangan-
a rabbi who may himself be bfisiest in these two months his leaders, including former Governors Wilbur Brucker and John B. yika felt free to select its own
comment is a bit ungracious.
Swainson who will give, respectively, Scripture readings from the friends among the nations of
Rabbi Silverman's 48-page essay devotes ten pages to the Old and New Testaments.
the world. Israel and Tangan-
English-Jewish press. Of these, our English-Jewish weeklies.
A Prayer Breakfast is a good idea, by Jews for Jews and by yika maintain cordial relations..
which are viewed in a section entitled "The A-Denominational Christians for Christians. But when it is sponsored officially by the
Diplomats representing Nas-
Weeklies," occupy just a bit more than four pages. Any one Governor of our State we begin to wonder: what's the sense in ser's African neighbors to the
who is at all acquainted with the weeklies published in Amer- speaking about separation of church and state and becoming con- South, in many instances, are
ican Jewish communities must marvel at the manner in which cerned over , Supreme Court decisions upholding that principle, amazed by the "naive" response
these are disposed of, most critically, under the guise of a when church and state are unofficially linked under what might of the State Department toward
study of the Jewish press in America.
easily he interpreted as official sponsorship?