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Friday, August 20, 2010

JNews fails its stated purpose

Last March, a group of left-wing British Jews started a new website called JNews. In the words of the founder of the site, Miri Weingarten, writing in Comment is Free,
There is therefore an urgent need for reliable, real-time information, authoritative and expert commentary, and deeper and more courageous analysis – all of which must be informed by a primary concern for human rights and social justice. JNews – Alternative Jewish Perspectives on Israel and Palestine is being launched today to answer this need.

An initiative of a group of British Jews, JNews will make its output available to the British and international media through its website. It will feature news and stories focusing on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and on the work of organisations and individuals struggling to protect and promote human rights and create conditions in Israel and Palestine in which social justice can prevail.

JNews will bring to public attention the authentic voices of those directly affected by the conflict and highlight the problems facing migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, the poor and the dispossessed, Arab-Palestinian citizens and the Bedouin. More generally in Israel-Palestine it will focus on the conditions of prisoners and detainees, the status and treatment of women, and the political and civil rights of Palestinians living under occupation and under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
While the description here is heavily weighted towards perceived Israeli abuses rather than any Palestinian Arab abuses of human rights, this description at least pretends that it would look at both.

On the site itself, it partially describes itself this way:
JNews believes that disseminating a range of viewpoints broader than that offered by most Jewish and Israeli organizations will benefit Palestinians and Israelis.

JNews supports the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and believes the two are intertwined.

JNews believes in the application of the universal principles of social justice and human rights as the path to a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict.
Given these high standards, of being able to have a "broader" range of viewpoints and of caring about the human rights of all Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, how well has it done?

The answer is simple. It looks exactly like a Palestinian Arab publication. There is nothing Jewish nor the least bit Zionist about it.(There are two articles over five months that quote Jewish sources to advocate a secular, liberal Judaism.)

Based on keyword searches, I found exactly one article over the past five months that could be construed as critical of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas - and that was a verbatim copy of a PCHR press release about PalArab elections.

There is barely a word on the entire site criticizing Hamas' human rights record. There is  nothing criticizing the PA's human rights record. Nothing about the lack of press freedoms in the territories, nothing about rockets, nothing about terrorism, nothing about Hamas and Fatah infighting.

JNews does not care about the human rights of Palestinian Arabs. They only care about the human rights of those that they can consider oppressed by Jews. In this sense, they are exactly in the mainstream of world anti-Zionism.

As far as the supposedly broad "range of viewpoints" that it was meant to have, every single article is either left, far left or ultra left (including one by the founder that quotes without any criticism an EU opinion that every part of Israel outside the 1947 partition lines is "occupied.")

JNews is yet another case of using a veneer of Jewishness in order to do one thing: criticize the Jewish state.  That is the entire purpose of the site, and everything it says about caring about human rights and liberalism and a range of viewpoints is simply a lie. (So are many of the articles it chooses to publish, but that is an argument for another day.)

(h/t Bella)