Monday, February 11, 2008

Arlington Heights Daily Herald Newspaper reader off-base; real issue is rejection of moderate voice

Ernest Mahaffey writes a public letter to the editor in today's Arlington Heights Daily Herald Newspaper that he no longer reads my column or the column by Chaya Gil (which appears only once each month ont he first Monday -- down over the years from weekly) because he thinks we are dueling. Clearly, Mahaffey doesn't read my column at all.

I met Chaya Gil a few times years ago. We do not communicate. And I can say that when I write my column I never take Chaya's column topics into considerati9on at all. Although the newspaper put an "Israeli" view across the page from my column, to add the balance all newspapers require when an Arab view is published, we have no connection whatsoever.

In the past, Chaya has attacked my views directly in her column, but I never write about her or her views in my column at all. I believe I am too moderate for Chaya and we are in two different leagues. She is an activist and works for an organization that has a very specific political agenda int he Middle East and I am sure she represents that view loyally. In my case, I do not represent anyone and write fromt he standpoint of being aprofessional journalis.

I am proud of the fact that in 2003, I was awarded the Society of Professioanl Journalists Lisagor Award for column writing for my columns in the Daily Herald. I have since won another Lisagor for my syndicated columns and was named in Nov. 2006 Best Ethnic American Columnist in America by the New American Media for the columns that appeared ins everal newspapers including in the Daily Herald, which never acknowledged the awards.

The Arlington Heights Daily Herald deserves praise for their courage; there are only a very few newspapers in the United States who run columns by Arabs, let alone Palestinians, on a regular basis.

What Mahaffey really dislikes is the idea that a Palestinian is not a hack like most of the Palestinian and Arab and even Muslim activists who write columns in other newspapers like the Chicago Tribune. They advocate viewspoints rather than explore issues objectively, as my column tries to do in a journalistic manner. That is how my column stands apart from the others. I apply one principle to issues. I criticize not only Israeli government policies but also Palestinian government policies, which I have not seen Gil do. Gil criticizes the Arabs and Palestinians, like many Jewish Americans activists, and I think she should write criticizing Israeli policies when they deserve to be criticized.

A true moderate is someone who applies principle to both sides and who does not pull their punches when their side does wrong, as most Palestinian and Arab and Muslim writers do and what Mr. Mahaffey appears to prefer.

The columns are not pitched against each other. We are not given topics to write about. Anyone who really reads my column knows that I write about what is the most important topic in the news at the moment and I strive to define the moderate Arab and Palestinian voice to give readers a perspective they can never find elsewhere -- principled views that weigh both sides fairly.

Chaya Gil and I certainly disagree on everything, but that is not the mandate of my column at all. Any appearance that we have selected the same topic to explore only reflects the fact that some topics weigh heavily more than others at certain times, and it is pure coincidence. Anyone who reads my column knows that frequently, we touch on different topics.

Here is Mahaffey's letter, which I am glad he wrote, even though I think he seems to write from a perspective that reflects not having read my column at all.

I think the Arlington Heights Daily Herald deserves much praise again for offering both views and more importantly for offering a view rarely found on a regular basis, even if only once each month. It's not an easy thing to do in this day and age after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans blame anyone who

Ray Hanania

No comments: