CBC Radio had a programme on this morning which was discussing how the Canadian Chinese media is covering the current crisis in Tibet. While the press here obviously enjoys much more autonomy than it does in China (“Hello? Can anyone in China see this website?”), apparently Tibetan protesters are being referred to as “rioters,” and the violent Chinese crackdown on these “rioters” is being referred to as the “restoring of order.”
Ok. So I’m not on the ground in Tibet and I don’t have the ability to judge this situation with 100% impartiality and objectivity, but it seems to me as though the cloak of Chinese state censorship has extended to the far reaches of their Diaspora. While I obviously think that this is probably not the best way that the Chinese Canadian media should enjoy their freedom of press, I’m not educated enough on the intricacies of the whole affair to offer any conclusive argument. My opinion is that Chinese Canadians who enjoy rights ensured by Canada should make use of them and speak up. And maybe they are… a cursory Google search for “Chinese Canadian criticism of China” did yield some results, although none from any Chinese Canadian media outlets. A good blog commentary on the issue can be found here.
Of course, one thing led to another, and I started personalizing the issue. I live in a Diaspora, too. Does not living in our ancestral homeland affect the way the Jewish media writes about Israel? Apparently it does…
Larry Cohler-Esses, who has been the editor of the Jewish Student Press Service, has worked for The Washington Jewish Week, The Jewish Week (New York), and has been dispatched worldwide (to Syria and Yemen, no less) had this to say in a 2004 interview on the Jewish press:
“People don’t read Jewish newspapers for the reason they read regular newspapers. People read regular newspapers to get information, whether they agree with the paper or not. People read Jewish newspaper to affirm their sense of identity. Often that means you are writing articles that people don’t particularly want to know about.
“If you want to know to know about Israel, you can get most of your information from The New York Times and the Washington Post. You read the Jewish newspapers to get your sense of Israel’s rightness and correctness in the world affirmed.”
Are we employing self-censorship here in Canada and the US? What happened to “Two Jews, Three Views”? I’ve often complained that the Canadian Jewish News is not exactly the most newsworthy paper in the country. To be sure, there’s more criticism in the Israeli media of politics, military actions, and internal social affairs, not to mention culture, sports and the regular skewering of fellow Jews. You get the idea. Even the Jerusalem Post has a more nuanced collection of articles than the New York Jewish Week, or the Canadian Jewish News – the largest Canadian Jewish weekly. A quick look through the “Israel,” “News,” and “Politics,” sections of these sites provides more than enough evidence. For a people who have been at the forefront of championing the mainstream, secular media, we’re doing a pretty shoddy job of ensuring journalistic integrity in our own newspapers.
Like with Tibet, I don’t purport to offer any conclusive solution. But I do believe that perhaps salvation lies in people continuing to read what independent Jewish journalists have to say, i.e. read (and write) blogs. The variety of opinion is healthy for the mind. We’re like the dark fruits and vegetables in the produce section. Full of antioxidants.
In other news (extremely relevant to me today), apparently Shakespeare’s plays were not written by Shakespeare, nor were they written by another man named Shakespeare. One woman claims to have evidence that Shakespeare’s plays were written by a Jewish woman.