For the record, The Jerusalem Post is not backing either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in next month’s presidential elections.

As Israel’s top English-language newspaper which prides itself on its balanced news coverage and opinion columns, we are certainly committed to providing our readers with as much material as we can on the candidates and their campaigns.

We dispatched a correspondent to cover both the Republican and Democratic conventions. We have run op-eds both in favor of Obama and Romney. And our editors and reporters have served as neutral moderators in debates across the country between representatives of Democrats Abroad Israel and Republicans Abroad Israel.

Co-sponsored by the non-partisan ivoteIsrael organization and the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel (AACI), these debates have turned out to be well-attended and successful.

More than 50,000 American Israelis have registered to vote in the November 6 elections. For them, and for many Americans – Jews, Christians, Muslims and others – the candidates’ stand on Israel is an important factor when considering their vote.

And it is our job as a newspaper to report on the presidential race as best we can, in an unbiased but informative way.

At the same time, however, The Jerusalem Post – like any other newspaper – is a business. As such, we are open to advertising from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Running paid ads in our print edition and on our website and sending them to our subscribers does not mean that we are endorsing one side or the other.

In order to give our readers first-class, original content, we need the resources provided by such advertising. As it says in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), “If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour.”

Supporters of Republican challenger Romney recently produced and posted on YouTube an anti-Obama documentary called Absolutely Uncertain. It featured interviews with The Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief, as well as with other Israel-based journalists who were told they were being filmed for a documentary on the US and Israel.

They had no idea that their statements were going to be used for political propaganda.

Last week, an advertisement for the video was disseminated to email addresses on the Post mailing list, many of whose recipients live in the US.

After receiving the email, a reader from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida wrote: “Israel’s security is extremely important to me and my family. As a Democrat strongly supportive of President Obama’s record on Israel’s security, I was disheartened to see The Jerusalem Post engage in disseminating a RJC propaganda film to its list-serve, giving the appearance the paper endorsed its views, when in fact it was nothing more than a paid advertisement.”

To make things perfectly clear, we are in no way affiliated with the video or its producers, and the email was sent in the form of a paid advertisement, and not as the paper’s position.

It is in no one’s interest for Israel to be a wedge issue in the upcoming US elections. To play political football with the enormous challenges facing Israel, the US and the entire world today, especially when it comes to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, is irresponsible and immoral.

Such issues must be addressed not in propaganda ads with a clear political agenda but via channels that promote robust discourse and free thought.

This applies to the coverage of the US election campaign in our newspaper and on our website, as it does in other media, particularly ahead of the remaining vice-presidential and presidential debates.

In the spirit of the Post’s integrity and good name, we remain neutral in the race between Obama and Romney.

As we’ve written before, Obama has proven during his first term to be a true friend of Israel, and Romney’s statements about his policies if elected indicate that he advocates a close US-Israel relationship.

It is our fervent belief that the White House and Congress will continue to be strongly supportive of the Jewish state no matter who wins the election, and we reject any attempts by interested parties to use deception and subterfuge to achieve their goals.

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