The mayor of the Israeli town of Sderot, Eli Moyal, stopped by the editorial rooms of the Sun yesterday to bring us up to date on the travail of his town of 23,000 that, in the past few years, has been hit by what is now 7,000 Qassam rockets fired from neighboring Gaza. The mayor walked in to the Sun's office just as we were sitting down to write an editorial on the refusal of the New York Times company to air on its radio station, WQXR, an advertisement that is part of the series that the American Jewish Committee has been airing on hundreds of stations around the country. The ad the Times turned down was about precisely the rain of rockets that has been directed at the civilian population of Sderot.
It turned out that the mayor hadn't heard about the contretemps over the advertisement — or about the rationale the Times gave for turning it down. According to the American Jewish Committee's president, David Harris, the Times's radio station manager, Tom Bartunek, wrote to the American Jewish Committee that the ad might be "misleading, at least to the degree that reasonable people might be troubled by the absence of any acknowledgement of reciprocal Israeli military actions." Mr. Harris called that explanation "stunning." Wrote Mr. Harris: "In other words, according to Bartunek's logic, the only way to broadcast the plight of Sderot's residents over the airwaves is to equate Israel's right of self-defense with Hamas's and Islamic Jihad's right to strike Israel at will."
So we found ourselves trying to explain to the mayor of Sderot that this is the Kafkaesque situation faced by the Jewish defense agencies in today's politics. When Poland, on whose soil so many millions of Jews perished in the Holocaust, canceled a talk that was to be held at its consulate in New York by a professor named Anthony Judt, who feels the creation of the Jewish state was a mistake, the politically correct intelligentsia voiced angry protests. We'll see whether Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, and Mr. Judt and their ilk protest the refusal of the New York Times to air the ad on Sderot.
It's not, incidentally, that the New York Times is unaware of the situation in Sderot. It issued over the weekend a front page story on how the city was emerging as a new symbol of the war. The people of Sderot are nothing, however, if not hard-headed about their situation. The message from their mayor is that New Yorkers should understand that the people of Sderot are not being attacked by the Palestinians. They are being attacked by international terrorist organizations. "People still believe that we're fighting Palestinians, but we're not," he said. They are being attacked by Iran and Syria and their proxies. Why any radio station or newspaper in New York would not want to stand proudly with Israel and the people of Sderot is just beyond us — and, we've no doubt, most New Yorkers.