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December 25, 1987 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-25

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IN e were gathered for a
ceremonial meeting in the
Knesset, with an array of
dignitaries seated at a
table facing us, prepared
to address us against the breathtaking
backdrop of a Chagall painting that covers
an entire wall. It is so rich in color and vivid
in detail that it competes with the speak-
ers' words.
More often than not, that is just as well.
In Israel, as in the rest of the Jewish world,
everyone has to make a speech. There are
too many speakers on the program, with
not enough to say.
Teddy Kollek, who has been mayor of
Jerusgem forever, it seems, is one we
listened to closely, and he was chastising
us, gently. There were several hundred of
us — journalists from Jewish newspapers,
magazines, radio and television programs
from 30 countries, gathered under the
sponsorship of the World Zionist Organiza-
tion for the Second International Con-
ference of Jewish Media — and he was tell-
ing us that in covering Israel, "you write
more about the shadows than the light."
He urged us to see the light.



A recent conference of
Jewish journalists from
all over the world
explored the inherent
tensions between
advocacy and objectivity.
And visits with Israelis
revealed their visions
and realities.



Separating the shadows from the light
was a major task of our conference over the
next four days at the Van Leer Institute
in Jersualem, distinguishing between the
image and reality of Israel, agonizing over
our particular dilemma as Jewish jour-
nalists in deciding when to hold back,
when to publish, when to criticize Israel or
the Jewish community, and when to cham-
pion the cause.
If we are only cheerleaders, no one will
take us seriously. If we only carp at the
shortcomings, no one will take us serious-
ly. It is a delicate balancing act, and it
never ends.

Dealing With Self-Censorship
At a session I had been asked to address
on "Censorship and Self-Censorship in the
Jewish Press," I told the audience that be-
ing a Jewish journalist is like being a Jew:
we are just like everybody else, only more
There were a few smiles. But it is true.
Every journalist must seek the truth. His
job is to probe, to uncover, to expose. But
the Jewish journalist has the added
responsibility of protecting his fellow Jew,

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