It’s time for Houston Jewish community to challenge antisemitism in the media – Jewish Herald-Voice

Posted By on April 20, 2022

Imagine if a newspaper depicted a vegan food festival with photographs from a Barbecue Brisket Cookoff.

On the First Day of Passover (April 16) the Houston Chronicle published a large picture entitled Passover Begins. The picture is from a messianic Jewish church. Messianic Jews believe in the Christian messiah; their movement was started as a means to proselytize and missionize Jews. Their seder incorporates many distortions about our Passover ritual as they weave Christian theology into our Passover story and symbols. Their methods are shamelessly deceitful.

The rabbis from this messianic church are self-ordained. A man from that church told me hes not Jewish. Then, a few weeks later, he appeared across the street from the JCC with a shmatte on his head and telling people hes a rabbi. This messianic rabbi couldnt recite the Shema. His church is the source the Chronicle chose to highlight Passover.

Messianic Jews claim to be Jewish; however, it is Judaism and Jewish Law that determines who is a Jew, not former-Jews or Christians role-playing as Jews. Their goal is converting every Jewish person to accept Christian beliefs.

Christianity negates the fundamentals of Jewish faith, and one who accepts it rejects the very essence of Judaism. Even if one continues to keep all of the rituals, it is the same as if they completely abandoned Judaism.

Why the Chronicle chose to highlight a messianic Jewish church to represent our Passover Seder is disturbing on several levels. Aside from legitimizing a nefarious perversion of Judaism, its misleading for anyone who seeks more knowledge about our faith and diverts them from legitimate sources at our local synagogues.

Theres a deeper and far more troubling pattern developing at the Chronicle of publishing articles that demean, degrade, delegitimize and even foment disdain and hatred toward our local Jewish community. Much of this incitement is in the form of anti-Zionism, which is the contemporary vehicle for antisemites.

On April 12, following two weeks of terroristic attacks against Israeli civilians, the Chronicle published a large photo entitled A Day for Mourning, invoking sympathy for the family of a young Arab terrorist. Only near the end of the caption did we learn officials said he was throwing a firebomb at [soldiers]. Eleven Israelis murdered in random terrorist attacks in the previous two weeks merited no mention.

The pattern gets worse. Last summer, the Chronicle published a shockingly distorted description of Israeli defense against Gaza attacks by omitting any mention of 4,000 Hamas rockets. Instead, the Chronicle simply said there was an 11-day armed Israeli aggression against Gaza (

The Chronicle did publish an easily overlooked, brief two-sentence correction about the messianic seder the next day. The damage was already done, which also is part of a pattern: Print a distortion and retract it later. In the case of the 11-day armed Israeli aggression, Chronicle editors promised to correct the article, but waited 10 days to do so.

Houston Chronicle editors have a remarkably cavalier attitude about their malfeasance. After their intentional failure to mention Hamas rocket attacks, I arranged a meeting with their top managers to highlight how they are fomenting and inciting antisemitism. I brought local Jewish leaders from two high-profile organizations, a major advertiser and a BIPOC [Biracial Indigenous People of Color] rabbi to our meeting.

The Chronicle listened politely. We encouraged them to contact any of us for clarity or fact-checking on topics related to Jews and Judaism. We implored them to apply codified journalistic ethics to their reporting. We left feeling they were just going through the motions.

Our Houston Jewish community deserves better and can do better. Yet, nothing changes until we demand it. Large media outlets can write whatever they want about Jews and distort it as they please. And, heres why: They know only a few Jews will object. Editors will pacify them and then go right back to doing what they do, expecting little to no repercussions. Rinse and repeat.

Letters to the Editor are selected for publication based on the number of letters received. The HC letters page typically has much more support for Gaza because its Hamas sycophants who write letters. Where are the Jews? Where are our leaders who would empower us to be more proactive? If you ever find yourself saying. Someone should do something. then Be The Someone.

If we are not for ourselves, who will be? At Passover were reminded how In every generation an enemy rises up against us. We cant let others define us as Jews nor define what is or isnt Jewish.

Zionism is part of our Seder. We dont conclude our Seders announcing, Next year in West Jerusalem.

Lets start asking at our shuls and schools about teaching how to write letters to editors, politicians, bureaucrats and businesses, and put together groups ready to respond quickly. Jewish business owners who advertise in the Chronicle should contact the publisher and object to the misinformation. Donors to Jewish organizations should ask what is being done to counter growing media antisemitism.

We are fortunate to have the Jewish Herald-Voice, and many of us have little problem giving feedback to the publisher. We need to be even more diligent in monitoring major media outlets who have a wide reach to the general public. One person can make a difference, and that one person can be you.

Ira Bleiweiss is a longtime Houston activist and lecturer whose innovative and effective pro-Israel and interfaith activities have garnered international recognition.

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It's time for Houston Jewish community to challenge antisemitism in the media - Jewish Herald-Voice

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