I’m Jewish and a journalist, I’m not a Jewish journalist

Kayla Rosen (Chase Stark)

Kayla Rosen (Chase Stark)

In my limited career as a journalist, I have been told that I am grossly pro-Israel and that I’m part of the reason that people hate Jews.

The latter comment came after an article that I wrote for last week’s edition of the Ryersonian, where I recounted the time I was questioned by the Israeli police. My intention was to tell an interesting story that might intrigue a few people. But not everyone enjoyed my article. Several Jewish and pro-Israel students voiced their opinions against it.

This put me in a difficult position. I am a proud Jewish person who loves Israel, but I am also a journalist who wants to tell honest and important stories. And it seems that, to some people, these two identities are mutually exclusive.

In one message I received in the backlash to my article, I was told, “If you are going to represent a community in a post, please make sure you actually represent them.” The thing is, I don’t remember signing up to be the face of Judaism and Israel on campus, and it feels unfair that this burden was placed upon me without my permission.

What people need to realize is that attacking Jewish journalists for their coverage of Israel only makes them afraid to do it again. In my case, it made me worry that I would be ostracized by my own community and that I would embarrass my family.

It’s important that readers separate people’s cultural identities from their professional ones, because otherwise many of Israel’s stories may not end up getting told. A newsroom can only serve its purpose if all journalists approach their stories without fear or bias. But this can’t happen if Jewish journalists feel the weight of their community on their shoulders.   

In the future, if I am told to write a story where Israel is at fault, I am still going to write it, despite my religious upbringing. As a Jewish person and a journalist, it is not my job to be the mouthpiece for Israel. It is my job to tell the truth. That’s what I did, and that’s what I plan to do.

4 Comments

  1. Natalie Slavat says:

    Proud of you Kayla

  2. A little disappointed – you seemed to miss the point of why people were upset by what you said. Freedom of speech all the way, but at least take into consideration it’s not all about you, there are bigger issues at hand and while you may have not “signed up” to represent them, and I get and respect that, it doesn’t necessarily make it okay to hurt the progress of the people who did. Your first article was worded in a way that could be easily misconstrued and it baffles me that you weren’t able to see how harmful it could actually be – even though I know it was meant to be an interesting and harmless piece. Always tell the truth of course, but don’t open the gates for misunderstanding where it’s not needed; it’s naive to believe that article wouldn’t negatively effect certain groups on campus by aiding other ones in false ways.

  3. Aedan O'Connor says:

    I appreciate you publicizing your experience with the Israeli police, since it is a country surrounded by constant threats, the Israeli police is extremely vigilant. I understand you felt threatened by this and I am sorry you had this experience. Perhaps writing in the Jerusalem Post or Times of Israel, or your summer program about your experience would be a more effective medium to express your concerns. Israel is a liberal democracy and if there is an issue with police misbehaviour, they will deal with it.

  4. Well written. And valid point.

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