***(SEE END FOR UPDATE)***
“Come to Sudan, and kill someone different from you…”
OK, so that’s not what today’s advertising supplement to the New York Times really said. But with a headline that trumpeted the hope that for Sudan, “prosperity could lie ahead after years of conflict” as an appeal to readers really said it all.
Over at BlogsofZion, Ariel’s up in arms about the appearance of this section in the New York Times, and calls for all Zionists to act by writing letters to the editors of the Times, as well as to Nicholas Kristof, who has been on the front lines of advocating intervention in the region (email addresses available over at BlogsofZion in the comments section):
Now, while I am rather close to an absolutist for freedom of speech in the public square–I am not when it comes to the promotion of hatred or those who, eh, commit genocidal acts.
What does this have to do with Zionism? Everything. Zionism is not just a movement dedicated to create a homeland for the Jews. It was a movement that sought, from its very beginning, to empower the Jews so that they could use their collective energies to make the world a better place, in line with the vision of our prophets and the task we believe every human being has been charged with–to till and to tend and to partner with God in creation.
Allowing Sudan to continue its genocide is not in line with that vision.
Ariel’s right, of course. Tolerance of genocide is not an option, is not in tandem with our goals as Zionists, as Jews or as human beings. There are lots of ways to act…students have mobilized against the genocide in Darfur (Challah for Hunger is just one example), and Save Darfur has scheduled a rally scheduled for April 30 in Washington, DC.
That said, from a strictly legal/journalistic perspective, it’s probably the NY Times’ prerogative to accept whatever advertisers they want. (And apparently they do.) In related news, I’ve just learned that the Ku Klux Klan will be advertising in the NY Times next month. OK, so I made that up, and it’s not exactly the same thing, since Darfur is a country with an actual economy and apparently– God help them–a tourism industry. But the point is, if the KKK had its own country, and came to the Times with an independent supplement and enough money, I’m pretty sure that the paper would run the supplement.
I’m not sure that the Times will be apologizing for the decision. And I’m not 100 percent sure it should, from a journalistic perspective, if advertising and editorial content are truly separate. But if it were my paper, and I were given the choice, I would have gone with something else. A supplement on Club Med, maybe. Had I been told by higher-ups that we had to publish the Sudan supplement or be fired, I’m not sure what I would have done. I’d like to think that my sense of moral justice would prevail. But I have to admit honestly that I’m not sure it would.
And after all of this theoretical discussion and honesty, I also need to admit that, as someone who only gets the Times on weekends, I didn’t see the supplement in print. But I trust Ariel on this one, and can therefore justly share in his outrage.
The only imperative in this situation, as in all situations that call for action: do what you can, in whatever way you feel makes a difference.
The New York Times replies to Ariel Beery over at Blogs of Zion; cites policy of “openness” rather than “censorship”…what do you think?