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Published Monday, May 9, 2016

Clear Condemnation of Anti-Semitism Would Have Been Better

I have noted the dramatic change in tone and mission in the Jewish Journal. I applaud its broader perspective on issues of current events that are of particular interest to its audience, whether the story is local or national.

Interest in politics, broader concerns of anti-Semitism, never is far from the Jewish mind… taught to be alert after 5,000 years of hatred and discrimination. Amongst us are those who see anti-Semitic incidents in Newton as part of a pattern that cries out for loud public condemnation. Thus the recent citywide forum on discrimination that couched recent incidents in the school in the context for broader tolerance seems perplexing.

It is one thing to view anti-Semitism in a broader context calling for understanding of minorities and ethnic groups; it is another when one group feel upset as its leaders fail to speak out forcefully. Was the Newton meeting colored by the presence of supporters who see Newton not addressing issues disclosed by a group led by Charles Jacobs? Is the real issue here genuine differences between two sincere groups, one pressing for censorship in school texts that offend them by drawing on Arab and Palestinian resources that reflect growing anti-Israel biases? Has liberal thought seeped into the consciousness of our educators who now seek to present more than the pro-Israel side in the name of “fairness”?

Anti-Semitism is perhaps the world’s oldest and favorite hatred. There truly is no room for tolerating it if, as it seems, it was blatantly clear this school year in Newton. It would have been better had the mayor and school leaders begun the meeting with a clear condemnation of anti-Semitism. Then their ideas about combatting it might fit into the broader issue of discrimination that clearly includes racism.

One point: Publisher Resnek’s passionate views nevertheless should be labeled opinion on his long piece on page four of the April 14 issue. I may agree with him, but find it disconcerting that he uses his privilege as publisher to wash away the distinction between reporting and opinion.

Jonathan Brickman, Newton

(Former publisher of Newton Magazine and former sales rep for the Jewish Journal)

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