Advocates for Israel in Ashland

Rachel Corrie died tragically when struck by an Israeli Army bulldozer while in a restricted military zone. Only the driver knows for sure of his intentions. It would have been politically expedient for Israeli courts to convict the driver and avoid the public relations problem but there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict so instead of sacrificing the driver they took the 'high road' of protecting the rights of the individual over the interests of the state.

Ashland has two medium and one small-size synagogues. It is also home to a new unfunded organization, Advocates for Israel, whose mission is to strengthen support for Israel by ensuring the public receives factual information.

Representatives of these groups have written to the Tidings expressing their unequivocal belief in the rights of free speech and assembly, abhorrence of censorship, and denying the accusations of coercion of any kind towards Peter Alzado regarding the controversial play, "My Name is Rachael Corrie."

Alzado has stated publicly several times, including in this paper, that there was no coercion, nor threats of economic boycott or picketing by any group. What has been repeatedly ignored was Alzado's statement that prior to his decision to cancel the play he spoke to an individual, not a group's representative, who expressed his feelings about the play and speculated that picketing might occur.

Regardless of the above facts, known to the editorial staff of the Tidings, the editorial published Aug. 28 reiterated the accusations of censorship and economic boycott while ignoring Alzado's statements to the contrary. Instead relying on the inaccurate assertions (according to Alzado) by the disgruntled director Geoffrey Blaisdell, who himself admitted in another published article to not having any first-hand knowledge of any threats of coercion. Understandably he was upset that his play was cancelled, yet his allegations were and are unfounded and have been repeatedly denied by Alzado.

The unprofessional and biased behavior of The Tidings, by relying on Blaisdell's statements for its inflammatory editorial was reprehensible and irresponsible.

It comes as no surprise, however, in view of the paper's long standing policy of poorly informed opinion masquerading as journalism. People tend to be comfortable with their prejudices, unfortunately when those people control a newspaper they do a disservice to their community and betray their profession when their prejudices dictate what people read.

Bruce S. Klein

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