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Burnaby Now editor calls for Mid-east peace (sort of)

November 29, 2010

When you write about Israel, Palestine and Anti-semitism, you’re gonna get letters.

If she didn’t know that already (and one suspects she did), Burnaby Now editor Pat Tracy knows now.

The newspaper ran an editorial about the issue on Nov. 13 and has since been bombarded by letters. Now Tracy writes “I may not be able to call a truce in the Middle East, but I can call a truce in our letters to the editor section.

The original editorial stated that Israel has killed civilians, which is objectively true. But that comment sparked a firestarm and, eventually, the column by Tracy.

These are emotional issues. And my experience is that when you venture into areas of politics, religion and oppression, it is always a minefield.

I don’t regret that we ran the editorial. I do, however, believe that the editorial’s ending was clumsy. We mentioned that Israel has killed civilians. Without putting that statement into some sort of larger context, we ignited emotions unnecessarily. That I regret.


Tracy writes that she believes that violence is never the solution to the problem and that is what the editorial was trying to express. But she notes that under-attack Israelis may feel differently.

The Jewish people have, and continue to be, targeted. Anti-Semitism is, like any oppression, dehumanizing and vicious. And when anyone witnesses an act of anti-Semitism they should rightly call it out.

I appreciate that many letter writers felt obligated to call our editorial anti-Semitic.

I don’t agree with that assessment.

But, frankly, I would rather have allies of Jews erring on the side of speaking out against what they viewed as an anti-Semitic statement, than not speaking out or writing.

Whatever you may agree with or disagree with, it is, in my opinion, better to share your thoughts. That is, after all, what the editorial was all about: freedom to speak and criticize and, hopefully, do so without fear of prosecution or persecution.

Given the crazy response I’ve seen to some mild stories and opinions, I can only imagine what the Burnaby Now letters file looks like. I guess this also shows that at least some people do read editorials; I’ve often found that even the most provocative opinion can get ignored if there’s no head or byline attached to it..

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