Last week’s issue of the Queens Jewish Link contained a Letter to the Editor that was critical of some of our local elected officials. Some of those officials are very dear to many of us. I received complaint calls as though I was responsible for editing the paper. I am not. As the Rabbinic Consultant, I am only shown articles in advance of publication that may pose a halachic issue or a matter of modesty.
However, it is my opinion that in order for a paper to maintain its credibility, it must allow for divergent opinions both in its articles and letters to the editor. The QJL is not run like Twitter, Facebook, The New York Times, or the rest of the mainstream media, which tolerates no diversity of opinion. If it were, I would have no part of it.
I have very often instructed the paper to run articles that are contrary to my political beliefs, as well as letters that were highly critical of me. Sometimes I choose to respond; sometimes I don’t. That is the price one pays for being in public life. I do, however, strongly object to personal attacks laced with chutzpah and inappropriate language. Last week’s lengthy letter did have one reference that was uncalled for and that reference should have been deleted. But for people to react in a threatening way to the paper and demand an apology is not the way to go. The target of the letter should respond with the facts if he or she so chooses. Or letters of admirers defending the target should be written to the paper.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld