Monday, April 22, 2013
The End Of The Canadian Jewish News
With great sadness, I have to announce that The Canadian Jewish News will cease publishing its printed newspaper with its June 20 edition.
I never dreamed that I would be writing this. No nightmare of mine envisioned it.
For some time, we have known of the ravages that printed newspapers and magazines have been experiencing across the world. The digital age, in which news and commentary are retrieved instantly on smartphones, on computers and on all kinds of new devices, has overtaken the printed word. For the most part, the attractions of printed paper are welcome experiences only for an older generation and appear to be destined to be things of the past. Added to this that much of the world believes that news and commentary should be free.
Newspapers depend for their existence on advertising. It is their lifeblood. Growing numbers of advertisers are no longer convinced that they will get responses to what they pay for in printed publications. Add to that the economic situation in effect over the past few years has left little monies for advertising.
While we were alert to what was happening around us, we hoped that The CJN, with its “niche” attraction, would not be like others, and that our print edition would survive and flourish. We made substantial operating changes, which we thought would assist. After careful analysis, we have concluded that they do not.
I feel worse when one of these niche/community papers goes down than when its something closer to the MSM. Apparently, the CJN may try to go forward as a digital news service.
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I did a survey a couple months ago that was run by the CJN and as I answered their questions, I realized that I haven't read the print edition for years. As long as they continue online, I doubt it will decrease the paper's relevance.
There is an online petition to save it. I do glance at it each week and I give it to my inlaws who read it in full and wouldn't read it online.
Sad that CJN is leaving the field to the truly idiotic Jewish Tribune but, quite frankly, CJN hasn't been worth reading for decades and has been little more than a mouthpiece for the Canadian Jewish Congress and its successors. Particularly unfortunate has been its general refusal to allow any real debate about Israel to occur within its pages unlike say the Jewish Chronicle or Forward.
Andy, you know I like that debate-but the idea that there is any sort of mainstream appetite to debate Zionism is deeply flawed--that debate ended about 70 years ago. I'm glad if IJV still feels an affiliation to the community but I think CJC and not CIJA etc represent the views of the overwhelming super majority of the community in not wanting to reopen that debate.
Well Mark, if you look at opinion surveys you'll see that large numbers of Jews, particularly younger Jews, have critical or ambivalent views about Israel that are out of step with the Jewish leadership. Unfortunately, the view among the leaders of the North American Jewish community that debate is not permitted has forced many people to either be quiet or to drop out of the Jewish community. All that is being done by this attitude is the alienation of a growing number of Jews from their community.
Andy, I don't see anyone being ostracized for being a left wing or liberal Zionist/member of Peace Now/New Israel Fund, etc. I'd bet a good chunk of the community is that way. There is a difference between ambivalence and criticism, on the one hand, and active anti-Zionism, on the other hand-like we see at Israel Apartheid Week and as part of BDS. And your right that that latter view isn't at all welcomed into the mainstream, for various reasons, but in part because it isn't IMO representative of any meaningful chunk of the community--certainly not of those that otherwise would participate in the community.
Actually Mark, Peace Now and its US and Canadian counterparts support a boycott of settlement products yet CJN certainly would never allow a debate in its pages on this issue nor would such a debate be permitted within Jewish community bodies. Rather, it is dismissed out of hand as beyond the pale just as you have done above and if any student government or union or other body raises the prospect of a settlement boycott they're denounced. http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Peace-Now-launches-boycott-of-settlement-products
"There is some irony to this too, in that many of the anti-Zionists present as identifying as Jews for the sole purpose of dressing up their anti-Zionism-they don't otherwise observe the religion of participate in the community"
Actually, I've heard the criticism that many Zionists cleave to Zionism as a substitute for a religion they don't otherwise observe. In any case, your comment is ironic when one considers that until recently most Zionists and virtually all Zionist leaders were not only secular and atheist but militantly so. If your argument is that one isn't Jewish if one doesn't observe the religion and at the same time that "anti-Zionists" cannot be Jewish then you're standing on some rather shaky ground. As I'm sure you know religious Judaism whether Orthodox, Conservative or Reform was generally anti-Zionist until recently and viewed Zionism as an appropriation of Jewish history and symbols and indeed most of the religious parties in Israel have been at least nominally anti-Zionist.
Incidentally, you haven't responded to my comment about Peace Now supporting a settlement boycott. Does that mean that, in fact, one should be able to debate settlement boycott in the pages of a paper like CJN or that Peace Now, in your mind and those of Jewish "leaders", is no longer part of the Jewish community?
As we both know, political Zionism was in essence a secular national liberation movement based on the Jews being a nation or a people. Yes, many religious Jews were against it in its formative years, but for the most part that debate ended eons ago. All I'm saying is that if you don't think the Jews are a people and you reject Zionism and you're also secular, I'm not sure what's left.
I'd have no problem with Peace Now critics of Israel in the CJN and I think you overstate the issue. The real issue is anti-Zionist Jews trying to speak qua Jews as "critics" of Israel when they think that any state which defines itself as a Jewish state is the crime against humanity of apartheid irrespective of its borders. The portion of our community that is of this view is very small. If they felt strongly about it and you're right there would be an alternate to the CJN out there now.
Who said anything about Jews not being a people?
Lots of anti-Zionists take that view. I'm not sure I've talked to one who doesn't take that view. But I'm glad if I'm wrong about that. I've heard some say "I grew up in a Jewish home and I believe in Jewish values even if I abhor Zionism and I'm not observant." To each his/her own but not sure that person's anti-Zionism can fairly be made more credible because the person is somehow affiliated with the Jewish people/religion/ethnic group or eats bagels when they're not low carbing.
But to the main point, I don't know why you think a mainstream community org has an obligation to include this view when it is marginal within the community. If you're right and people who otherwise be part of it now won't, I'd be more sympathetic but I'm not aware of too many shul attending UJA supporting/Baycrest supporting or CHAT supporting individuals who take your view.
Most Jews in Canada don't send their kids to parochial schools and don't give to the UJA and most Jewish students, even at York, don't participate in Hillel. Perhaps one of the reasons the official Jewish community is in trouble is it only speaks to those who do.
If you don't observe the religion and don't participate in any community institutions, what's left? What does it mean to be Jewish in 2013 in the absence of these things? For some, it is feeling part of a "Jewish People" and identifying with Israel. For others, it seems to be about some notion of "Jewish values" divorced from the religion or the nation and with Zionism viewed as the antithesis of Jewish values. The first one makes sense to me. The second one does not. It would be as if the child of gay parents who was straight purported to speak on behalf of gays because s/he grew up in a gay household.
Sorry to belabour the point-and BCL must be tiring of this--but I can't imagine that there is any evidence out there that CJN's print edition is folding because it didn't serve Canada's Jewish anti-Zionist community that appears not to participate in any other aspect of that community anyway.
Consider the fact that one of the key reasons for the restructuring in recent years that saw CJC reorganise and then be absorbed by CIJA is that particiaption and donations by individuals was dropping and the fundraising pool was shrinking. Today the UJA gets much of its money not from small donations by many individual members but from a few very large donations by superrich plutocrats. Democratic structures in the community have been dissolved and instead you have CIJA as a top down autocracy of sorts and the Bnai Brith which similarly is an undemocratic organisation run by a small clique. Most individual Jews in Canada have little or nothing to do with these "community" organisations yet these same organisations claim to speak for the entire community despite having no mandate, whatsoever, to do so.
If you want to vote in a Jewish election you'll have to move to Israel. :) I take your point about the democratic nature of these institutions but they were never democratic in that sense with wide "membership" based elections-certain people join. These organizations are open to all.
Do you really think the majority of Jewish Canadians neither observe the religion nor participate in the community? If by "observe" you mean strictly and 24/7, that's right, but I think most do something from some synagogue/temple going, a Seder, giving their kids some exposure to education and a bar/bat mitzvah and, whether you like it or not, an introduction to Israel. Some of what you say may be more true in the US than here. I think you're describing things as you wish them to be more than things as they are.
And btw, if CJN had allowed a regular column from people like IJV (which I think you're part of?), or even given over advertising space, I suspect there would have been a flood of cancelled subscriptions as opposed to new ones. I don't believe the same would be true for, say, Peter Beinart or Emily Hauser and other traditional liberal Zionists who I believe reflect a large segment of the community.
Really? Then why did CIJA pressure Hillel in Montreal to cancel a Peter Beinart talk?
I believe they took issue with his settlement boycott position given the broader anti-Zionist BDS movement which also believes in boycotts. I've gone to hear him speak myself. It may be that some orgs are a bit more conservative than the CJC was, but based on your initial comment CJC, whose end BCL mourned, was just as "bad". Even if we agree the community as a whole is more "liberal" than these orgs-and that isn't clear, as should be evident in the results in ridings in recent elections where there are significant numbers of Jewish voters-that is NOT the same thing as the community being anywhere in the same solar system as the anti-Zionists of Independent Jewish Voices. You would have a lot more credibility if, in claiming to be speaking for the community, you actually did something for the community. These mainstream organizations you malign do a ton of good work including providing various types of social assistance including beyond the community itself (food to the homeless, etc., consistent with long traditions of "Jewish values"). When IJV and other anti-Zionists trading on some supposed connection to Judaism actually do something similar, they will have earned the right to speak in the name of the community.
I don't claim to speak for the Jewish community, neither does IJV. My point is both CIJA and Bnai Brith claim explicity to speak for the entire Jewish community (I can quote words to this effect from their websites) when they have no mandate to do so and actively work to silence debate in the Jewish community even to the point of shutting down Peter Beinart and other liberal Zionists who you pointed out "reflect a large segment of the community." Remember, you named Beinart as an example of someone whose views would be tolerated and yet clearly that's not the case.
"At its core, this isn’t about Beinart, Peace Now, Grossman, Oz nor me. Nor is it about whether or not to boycott the settlements. This is about the way organized Jewish communities are coming to define and discipline legitimate discourse on Israel.
It is ironic that, in some Canadian cities at least, the author of the 2010 wake-up call, inviting the American Jewish Establishment to stop forcing Jewish students to “check their liberalism at the door” when it comes to Israel, is being barred from speaking to the very type of students he fears aren't engaging and connecting with the Jewish and democratic state that he - and many others - care so much about."
Well I guess you got me on that one as I wasn't aware of it---but---in the end he got to speak, right? And it isn't clear to me that that example would have applied to the CJN anyway. I easily could see the CJN have an op ed from a Beinart type perspective--just not one from, say, Peto. There is a difference, and I'm sure you'd agree.
The point is CIJA - the more moderate of the two national "community" organizations, tried to shut him down. As for CJN's willingness to run an op-ed from a Beinart type perspective (such as, say, that of the Canadian who wrote the Haaretz piece cited above), show me an example.
Well there is this, even if not an op-Ed per se:
And this too:
And to your larger point there is this:
And I'm sure there is lots more. All that is missing is a platform for far left and/or anti-Zionist Jews. If the person who wrote the Haaretz piece were a participating member of the Canadian community, from my POV being a partisans means you get a voice at the table. But for those who are generally alienated from the community want to advocate for the one state solution I see no reason why they get to play. You guys have your own website and have profile far beyond your numbers. Not sure why there would be a case for a seat at the table.
"Being a *PARTICIPANT*"
Totally missed this ongoing comment thread. Someone call me if it gets libelous.
Mark, did you read the Ha'aretz piece? She's VP of the Ottawa JCC and concerned that money she's donating is being used to silence her. I'm on my mobile so difficult to check your links at the moment - I did read that article on CIJA before but that's not an article that's critical of Israeli security policy let alone one that airs views supporting sanctions against settlements. I'd be surprised to see any articles airing pro-settlement sanction views even though, as you've seen, many mainstream left Zionists support that view. As for articles critical of Israeli security policy, well, CJN's editorial guidelines have banned that since 1979.
No libel. Quite friendly actually! Andy, yes I read that piece. As I think about it more, you have a point. It is good to have a big tent. Because of what I do online I'm being asked to become involved in many of these orgs. I see no reason to exclude the critics at all. I'm less sure about Israel is an Apartheid State anti-Zionists, but if they're truly otherwise part of the community, my own view is that isn't grounds for expulsion. Regards from Boston, which is another topic...
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