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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letter to the Editor: J-Street op-ed represents poor journalism

Published: October 23, 2009
Section: Opinions

Dear Hoot Editors,

I’m writing to express my dismay at the fact that you ran Leon Markovitz’s Oct. 16 article, “A few thoughts on Brandeis ‘progressive’ Zionists: J Street.”

This article is opinion writing at its worst. It misrepresents very basic factual information, like the policies of J Street (which are listed very clearly on J Street’s website). The article is also inflammatory in its implicit assertion that J Street did wrong to accept contributions from similarly-minded Iranians and Arabs–an accusation that borders on racism. Is this really appropriate content in a publication at Brandeis University, of all places?

Worse is Markovitz’s tone – does The Hoot really want its opinion page to become a forum for sarcasm and rhetoric void of content? Beyond the fact that Markovitz’s chosen style for his opinion — to sarcastically adopt a hyperbolized voice of J-Street – is actually confusing to read, it’s poor journalism. Had Markovitz fairly represented J Street’s views and then mounted his own cohesive argument in response, it would have been an acceptable, conversation-furthering article.

Instead, it’s a personal rant with little cohesion. What right does Markovitz have to put words in the mouth of an organization, particularly one he so clearly misunderstands? Does The Hoot need a Brandeis equivalent to Maureen Dowd? At the end of his article, Markovitz writes that there are “priorities and interests that must be kept to protect Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” He never says what they are. What kind if opinion is this?

Finally, Markovitz quotes a comment of mine that was printed in the Justice following its appearance in their online edition. If you refer to the quote in question, you will see it is taken largely out of context and, in my opinion, gratuitous. Markovitz does not directly address the content of my quote. Instead, he simply uses it as a starting point to make up more of his own dialogue, ostensibly coming from my mouth. The result of this has been for my name to appear on Websites that claim to track defamation against Israel and Jews. As a Jewish supporter of the state of Israel, I find this beyond offensive. It’s absurd that this should happen, just as it is absurd that the editors at The Hoot found Markovitz’s article print-worthy.

In the future, I hope you will hold your opinion articles to higher factual, intellectual, and professional standards. It will benefit your publication, your writers, and your readership.

Jeremy Konar ’10