My (non-deductible) contribution

An e-mail arrived today from the president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency appealing for money to enable the agency to stay afloat. I must admit that as a free subscriber to JTA’s daily news bulletin, I felt a twinge of guilt upon reading the letter’s postscript stating that while it is “JTA’s mission to offer content for free, . . . it is not free to produce. We need everyone who relies on JTA to pitch in. . . . ” And so, I’ve decided to contribute in my own way, by posting at least once each week regarding some aspect of the JTA’s news coverage.

I trust my observations will pay great dividends to the agency in enabling it to fulfill its stated role as the “Global News Service of the Jewish People,” and will, ultimately be worth far more to its staff than the paltry monetary sum I’d otherwise be contributing. I take as my starting premise that as a self-described “Global News Service of the Jewish People,” the JTA is committed to a rigorously objective and non-partisan approach to its reporting, in both religious and political terms. So, here goes:

A June 15 news item headlined “Poll: American voters’ support of Israel drops” describes a new survey by The Israel Project which found that only 49% of American voters call themselves supporters of Israel, down from 69% last September. What the report fails to mention is that there was a huge divide in this regard based on political affiliation. Republicans favored Israel over the Palestinians by 65% to 3%, followed by independents who favored Israel 50% to 9%, and Democrats, at 38% to 9%.

On the question of whether they believe Israel’s government is committed to peace, 56% of Republicans responded in the affirmative (which was significantly down from 74% in March 2008), while a 42%-41% plurality of Democrats responded that the current government is not committed to peace.

The above-mentioned fundraising letter from JTA’s president described the agency as “irreplaceable” because “[n]o other news or online source tells our Jewish stories in such a comprehensive manner.” Yet, without some reference to the large partisan gap between Republican and Democratic respondents, the headline seems somewhat misleading (and possibly untrue as regards some Republican voters, although that would require further research) and the story that follows seems rather un-comprehensive.

Interestingly, a JTA news item back on January 15 entitled “Two polls: Americans favor Israel in Gaza conflict” did in fact concede, albeit down in the fifth of seven paragraphs, that a “partisan gap existed in the Pew poll. Republicans approved of Israel’s military action by 55-20 percent, while Democrats disapproved of the campaign by a 45-29 margin.”
Could it be something has happened since January 15 to render JTA’s news coverage less comprehensive?

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