Israel-Diaspora affairs: Reporting against the tide

'Jerusalem Post' featured blogger Shmuel Rosner is awarded the JDC prize for journalistic excellence.

rosner 248 88 (photo credit: )
rosner 248 88
(photo credit: )
As we honored Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner this week with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's 2008 Boris Smolar Award for Journalistic Excellence for his reporting on the Israel-Diaspora Jewish relationship, we realized that we were recognizing a disappearing phenomenon in the media. Since JDC initiated the Smolar award 10 years ago - named after the famed founding editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) - the number of journalists covering this area has decreased dramatically. As some editors brush aside or pass over news about Israel-Diaspora affairs, the average curious Israeli consumer of news may never come across stories portraying the special connectedness between Diaspora Jews and Israelis. The paradox is this: Now more than ever Jews everywhere can connect on various Web sites, receive news and updates in real time and know more about each other's life than even next-door neighbors knew in the past. Israelis, on the other hand, often admit they do not know much about the lives of "these other Jews" in the absence of media coverage. And when media opts out of telling that story, Israelis inevitably lose out. So why should JDC - an international rescue and relief organization, not a media body - be concerned about this erosion? Because as an overseas arm of the Jewish people, JDC witnesses (and plays a role in assisting) the revival of Jewish life in numerous cities around the globe. This revival, after the devastating Holocaust and the following decades of oppression under totalitarian regimes, is no less than a reversal of forced assimilation , a story which would ring true and benefit Israelis, once they know more about it. The events of recent years has proven to us that we are all connected - the actions and inactions of Israelis and Diaspora Jews inevitably effect one another. Israel's operation in Gaza had unintended consequences of an anti-Semitic nature in a number of countries. On the other hand, the political influence of Diaspora Jewish groups has recently affected issues in Israel. We commend The Jerusalem Post and its Web site for relentlessly maintaining a nourishing level of exchange of news, views and documentary about Israel-Diaspora coexistence. For our part, JDC will continue to encourage this kind of journalism because we know that Jews around the world benefit from a better understanding of each other's lives. After all, it is not enough to cite the verse "I seek my brothers." Once you've found them, you must try to listen to them as well. The writer is the CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).