As a reader of the digital version of the Forward, I learned of the Jewish Voice for Peace ad in the June 2nd print edition, supporting imprisoned Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti, through a news release from the Jewish News Service.
In a “Note to Our Readers” on The Forward’s editorial page, publisher Rachel Fishman Fedderson wrote that when the ad was submitted, “it gave us pause” because JVP’s text identified Barghouti only as the leader of a recent 40-day hunger strike by Palestinian terrorist prisoners, without noting he was convicted of murdering five Israelis.
But JVP’s objectives and tactics were, or should have been known, prior to the acceptance of its pro-Barghouti ad.
The Forward’s official advertising policy states it will not accept an ad if the text is “intentionally misleading or contains known false statements.” JVP Media Coordinator Naomi Dann told JNS.org that The Forward “had no issues” with the content of the ad. While JVP was not asked to change the text, The Forward did require it to include a disclaimer which stated, “The views printed here are not intended to represent those of The Forward.”
Fedderson explained in her note to readers that “despite our reservations,” she and her colleagues decided to publish the ad because “mass media itself is on the firing line, and freedom of expression is under pressure from our own government.”
Wouldn’t lack of full disclosure of Barghouti’s background qualify as “intentionally misleading”? Under comparable circumstances, in 1923, would the Forward have accepted an ad by the American Friends of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party in support of freeing Hitler from imprisonment after his attempted coup? At that time “Mein Kampf” had yet to be published.
Fedderson defense of the Forward, that “despite our reservations,” she and her colleagues decided to publish the ad because “mass media itself is on the firing line, and freedom of expression is under pressure from our own government,” is weak. The mass media has exhibited palpable bias in news reporting. While the media may be under fire for this bias, freedom of expression is doing just fine.
Does the JVP ad “reflect the mission, vision and values” of the Forward, or was the real factor which tipped the scales the desire for ad revenue?
Jared Silverman is an attorney in West Orange, New Jersey.