Friday, June 27, 2008
A few months ago, I documented the hijinks of The Cambridge Peace Commission and its offspring, "The Cambridge to Bethlehem People to People Mission". One of the lowlights of the Israel-bashing, traveling circus were the comments of one Eva Moseley, a pilgrim on the mission who cynically referred to her Holocaust "experience" as useful "shtick" when the opportunity presented itself to slam Israel. The same Ms. Moseley celebrated her granddaughter's conversion to Islam and her subsequent work for the notorious, terrorist-associated group, CAIR.
In addition to the blatant anti-Israel and arguably, anti-semitic overtones to the trip, there is an even more disturbing twist to The People’s (Islamic) Republic of Cambridge solidarity mission to Bethlehem resulting in the pilgrims’ bonding with Palestinians including Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials.
This time it involves The Boston Globe.
Last December, reporter Victoria Cheng of The Globe authored a piece entitled: In Bethlehem, a Bond is Born -- "Visiting group sees two sides of wall"
I suppose in a literal sense, the subtitle was correct, insofar as the political pilgrims of Cambridge had to journey from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to the West Bank, forcing them to see the Israeli side of the wall as they rushed to bond with their Arab brothers and sisters. The group's itinerary, however, did not include a visit to Sderot, Ashkelon or to the hospitals where there are scores of victims of Palestinian terror attacks. In fact, the Cambridge to Bethlehem People to People Mission has adamantly refused to even consider those venues.
Buried far down in reporter Cheng's piece was a single comment from Nancy Kaufman, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, to the effect that the wall served a temporary purpose of preventing terror attacks.
A number of emails have surfaced attesting to the Boston Globe's bias in reporting the Bethlehem mission. It seems that any comment seeking to balance the overwhelming anti-Israel tone of the piece was anathema to the political pilgrims. They began a slash and burn letter writing campaign hectoring the reporter, Ms. Cheng, on the audacity of including any comments other than their own. In one such letter, Marla Erlien, a delegate to the Cambridge Human Rights Commission, writes:
"Nancy Kaufman recycles the myth that the wall that pens Bethlehem's population is for Israel’s security " I suppose all the graves produced by Ms. Erlien's friends in the Bethlehem Municipal Council -- which is composed entirely of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror representatives -- are "mythical" as well. Ms. Erlien goes on to state that the wall has no security purpose, but only serves to "control" Palestinians. Other letters from the pilgrims to Ms. Cheng express similar annoyance at providing a balanced view of the conflict:
Nancy Murray, an official of the Massachusetts ACLU and a Cambridge Peace Commissioner, grumbled to Ms. Cheng that "the space given to the Jewish Community Relations Council's Nancy Kaufman" struck a "very discordant note." I wonder if Ms. Murray was speaking for the ACLU or simply on her own in her taste for censorship.
Reporter Cheng, far from having her hackles raised by partisan letter writers telling her how to do her job, was remarkably compliant and in obvious sympathy with her critics. Including Nancy Kaufman's rather tepid defense of the security barrier as a defense against terror attacks was not Ms. Cheng's idea, she wrote. You see, it was her editor's fault. Had she had her way, no dissenting views would have been presented in her column. Here is an excerpt from Ms. Cheng's email dated December 23rd, 2007:
After I submitted my version on Tuesday, my editor got back to me and said that his 'defensive driving' antenna was signaling that we might want to include a quote from somebody who was in favor of the wall. I added this quote in response to his request In an effort to present a view that might contrast with the quote from the Jewish Community Relations Council, I added Cathy's [Cathy Hoffman, Director of the Cambridge Peace Commission] statement about humanized exchanges with Palestinians.
Ms. Cheng concludes by writing,
I am sincerely sorry that I couldn't do justice to your trip and I thank you for the understanding you have expressed thus far...please also accept my apologies.
In a separate email, the Globe reporter further ingratiated herself to the political pilgrims:
I did indeed speak to Nancy Kaufman and the quote is from our conversation. I understood the problems with what she said at the time [emphasis added] and want to assure you that I would have included more nuanced contextualization of her quote if not for the extremely tight word count.
In closing, Ms. Cheng writes:
I would prefer if you do not mention what I told you about how editing for this article unfolded in the specific detail I revealed to you...I would rather you present it as my simply having told you that I added the quote from the Jewish Community Relations Council in response to a request from him [her editor].
I hope this does not make your task more difficult and I wish you the best of luck. Let me know if I can help out in any way.
Now that’s an example of journalistic objectivity, isn't it?
Ms. Cheng and The Boston Globe appear to be suffering from "on bended-knee" syndrome.
Contained in The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is the following:
Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Regrettably, The Boston Globe has for years exhibited an arrogant disregard for this and other tenets of journalistic ethics when it comes to reporting on the Middle East. Victoria Cheng's blatant advocacy for one side in the Arab Israeli conflict is but the latest chapter in the Globe's betrayal of its own standards.
Update: The Peace Commission has removed their emails from the public group. Fortunately, in addition to having the messages saved, they are still available in the Google cache of the page, here.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Emails Reveal: Boston Globe Reporter Sucks Up to the Cambridge Peace Commission.
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CAMERA has a nice piece highlighting Hillel Stavis's expose (see: Emails Reveal: Boston Globe Reporter Sucks Up to the Cambridge Peace Commission) of Globe reporter Victoria Cheng's obsequious behavior toward the Cambridge Peace Commission's anti-Israe... Read More
The local Jewish Advocate newspaper has done a front page story on the Boston Globe email scandal that Hillel Stavis broke here a couple of weeks ago. See: Emails Reveal: Boston Globe Reporter Sucks Up to the Cambridge Peace Commission.... Read More