Friday, October 2, 2009

Seed of Conflict

I’m a little conflicted these days.

Aside from being your ardent blog correspondent, I also serve as an informal conduit of Internet information. I have assorted email lists. There’s my joke list, my poker list, my family list, etc. And then there’s my Jewish list.

I get many emails of articles, videos, jokes, political tracts and assorted material. I try to use an editor’s judgment as to which ones are worthy enough to forward to the appropriate list. It’s the Jewish content that causes the most angst, particularly when the topic is Israel and its relations with the Arab world. I’m generally left of center when it comes to this issue, but many of the people on my list are more hawkish than I.

The other day I forwarded a letter to the editor from the Israeli cousin of a friend. The letter appeared in the Jerusalem Post. The author noted that while non-Muslims may now visit the Temple Mount, they are forbidden, yes, forbidden to pray there. If you’re seen silently moving your lips as if in prayer, you can be expelled from the site. The author chastised the Israeli government for allowing such an absurdly anti-Jewish regulation to exist in land that is part of the State of Israel.

My initial instinct was to pass on passing along this diatribe (see, I’ve shown my bias by using an inflammatory word). But the job of an editor is to suppress personal beliefs in favor of advancing dialogue. So off the letter went to the Jewish list Tuesday afternoon.

It had the desired effect. It generated considerable comment, both in person, by phone and email ripostes through midnight and into the following morning. The debate raged over Israeli policy, American presidents and their “love” for Israel, and the manipulations of the “right wing religious zealots” who have placed their beliefs ahead of the safety of the whole country.

I was personally challenged as to why I would send out “that right wing, totally selfish, provocative letter.” My accuser would not accept my argument about the role of an editor.

And so I’m conflicted, eager to be a member of the free press but knowing that no matter what I do with provocative material, either my right wing or left wing friends and family will be disappointed in me.