L.A.’s ‘Big’ Sunday


Between 35,000 and 40,000 people spent Sunday, May 15 at Woodley Park in Van Nuys for the annual Israel Independence Day festival.

The festival’s early afternoon main event featuring pro-Israel speeches and politicians lasted exactly one hour; on the last note of “The Star-Spangled Banner” skydivers appeared above. “The coincidence was amazing,” festival executive director Yoram Gutman said.

In the late afternoon, more than 7,000 people crowded the festival’s main stage to hear Israeli pop superstar Sarit Hadad. Fire marshals had difficulty clearing fans from the aisles.

About 256 vendors served up food, drink and ideology to a crowd free of violence, crime and medical problems, although one young girl fainted.

Also competing for the attention of Jewish Los Angeles was Big Sunday, a citywide Jewish volunteer project that grew out of Mitzvah Day at Temple Israel of Hollywood. More than 8,000 volunteers from 140 Jewish and non-Jewish institutions helped the blind, planted trees, cleaned up trash and painted kids’ faces.

Piles of plastic bags sat in a corner of Temple Israel’s parking garage, each filled with donated clothes. “We had mountains of bags and boxes of clothing,” said Jackie Simon, the general studies coordinator at the synagogue’s day school, who added that Westwood’s Sinai Temple also was a drop-off point for Big Sunday clothes.

Now in its seventh year, Big Sunday this year received a $25,000 donation from Toyota, plus clothing donated by the Indigo and Lucky Brand lines, Big Sunday chair David Levinson said.

Other shuls participating in Big Sunday included Temple Beth Am, Temple Beth Haverim, Beth Jacob Congregation, Beth Shir Sholom, B’nai David-Judea Congregation, Temple Isaiah, Congregation Kol Ami, Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood, Leo Baeck Temple and Congregation Shaarei Tefila, plus The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, UCLA’s Hillel, KOREH L.A. and Shalhevet High School.

 

A Daf a Day


 

Growing up religious in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I didn’t have much choice when it came to religious studies: it was full time till I was 18. I always felt it was being shoved down my throat.

So I stayed away from religious studies for about a decade — from college, through marriage, a year of service in Vietnam and three children.

During that time I stayed close to religion through observance, community and friends, but I avoided any formal religious study.

After we bought a new house and moved to a new neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn, I came upon a new, small synagogue — a shtiebl — close to my house where I could attend the (more minor) evening services on weekends. The rabbi of the shul had a soft and pleasing personality. I was drawn to his softness and started to sit in on some of his Talmud classes. I discovered I had a penchant for the back-and-forth, up-and-down method of the talmudic process.

After about a year of these classes, my mother died. Coincidentally (I think), the rabbi decided to start a daily Talmud class half an hour before the 6:45 Shacharit (morning) services. When I finished sitting shiva, the traditional seven days of mourning, I decided to attend, because I felt it would be a good way to commemorate my mother’s name.

I attended these classes for a number of years, studying about 12 to 15 masechtot, or tractates. During that time the classes were moved up to a 6 a.m. start and then, to 5:45 a.m., one hour before prayers. Getting up daily for a 5:45 class was tough — but the advantage was that I did not have to take away evening time from my wife or four children. This was my own time I was giving up.

Our small daily Talmud study was actually one of many around the city — and country and world — that learned a daf or a page, a day (yomi), and over seven and a half years would complete the entire Talmud doing this Daf Yomi process.

Before I had started these Daf Yomi cycles, I had spent a number of years playing at a regular weekly card game, feeling in a rut — somehow feeling guilty about not learning, yet having no motivation whatsoever. But somewhere along the line, when I started the classes, I had learned that there was a question of the permissibility of winning money from other Jews playing cards. I decided to give up my card game and continue the learning.

Now instead of spending a night out with the boys playing cards, I was spending the morning out with the other boys: Ravina and Rav Ashi (the compilers of the Talmud).

The days became weeks, which became months, then years. In some way, it became addictive.

Before the Daf Yomi classes, when I took stock of my life, I had felt that I was not really accomplishing anything — despite my career, fatherhood and marriage — I felt I was failing in my role as a Jew, not fulfilling my role in this world; the role that was required of me.

I remember reading somewhere that you should ask yourself where you would like to be five or 10 years from now — and were you doing anything to make that dream come true? The answer struck a chord: What you are now is where you will be later. I remember feeling like I was just going along in life, having some vague ideas about where I’d like to be in life, what I would eventually like to accomplish, but I never had any plan to get there.

The Daf Yomi classes set its own goal. By simply going there on a daily basis, I was following a plan to reach an eventual worthwhile goal. After I got into the Daf Yomi routine, when I looked over my life, I felt it was a way for me to really accomplish something in my lifetime.

I finished my first full cycle, completing the entire Talmud, 15 years ago.

I remember the first time I went to the Daf Yomi Siyum, the giant celebration where participants and observers come together to acknowledge this great undertaking. I felt part of the collective exhilaration, like thousands of people graduating a seven and a half year advanced degree program.

Daf Yomi has been part of my daily life for the last 22 years (I’ve missed classes due to illness but have made them up). These years of study have made me feel that I have accomplished something great in life. I now walk with a different pride, and my self-esteem is greatly improved.

Last night, Tuesday, March 1, I attended my third Daf Yomi celebration. I was one of more than 20,000 people at New York’s Madison Square Garden, part of a gathering of more than 120,000 Jews throughout the world (some 2,600 gathered at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall). The program of the giant celebration (which was connected around the world through satellite feed) began with the afternoon and evening prayers, followed by a number of moving speeches. But when the actual Siyum (which literally means “end”) took place — when they read the last few lines of the whole Talmud — something happened: The whole Garden spontaneously started dancing in every available aisle. People who could not get to an aisle were dancing side to side in their rows and seats.

Tears began streaming down my cheeks. I didn’t know why. Was it the exuberance of the spontaneous dancing? Or seeing this huge mass of Jews exhibiting uninhibited joy? Or was it some pent-up emotion for all the years and hours I put into the daily study of Talmud? Perhaps it was the combination of all of the above.

Today, the next morning, the new cycle has started. I got up early and went to class — because that’s just what I do.

Dr. Warren Klein (father of Managing Editor Amy Klein) is a practicing dentist and a practicing Jew.

 

Bush Win Inspires Local GOP Leader


George W. Bush wasn’t the only Republican to win big on election night. Larry Greenfield, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) of Southern California, also fared quite well.

Surrounded by a crowd of 250 Jewish Republicans partying at Beverly Hills’ Level One club, a beaming Greenfield looked more like a giddy teenager than a 42-year-old man in a dark suit. As news of the Republican triumphs came in, RJC members hugged and high-fived Greenfield, who has become the public face of Southern California’s Jewish Republicans.

For months, in a series of debates throughout the state, he had argued that Jews should and would embrace the GOP, a party that he said fought hard for Israel and promoted personal and economic freedom over government intrusion. Occasionally, Jewish audiences greeted Greenfield’s message with jeers. More often than not, they listened; a few even told him after his speeches that they might “do the unthinkable” and vote Republican, he said.

Working the Level One crowd like a seasoned politician, Greenfield was suddenly cornered by an Israeli man with a thick accent. Extending his hand, the Israeli immigrant thanked Greenfield for his tireless work on behalf of Jewish Republicans.

“You are brilliant and very good for our cause,” the man said. “I think many more Jews will become Republican.”

That already appears to be happening. An L.A. Times exit poll found that 20 percent of California’s Jews voted for Bush this time around, up from 15 percent four years ago. Nationally, the Times said the president won at least 26 percent the Jewish vote, up from 19 percent.

The increase in the Jewish vote for Bush parallels the growth of the RJC of Southern California. Founded in 2001 with about 200 members, the chapter now has 1,000, making it the largest RJC in the country.

Greenfield plans to build on that momentum. In the next year, he said the RJC of Southern California would host the first statewide meeting of California’s eight RJC chapters in Newport Beach. Greenfield also said his group would step up its lobbying efforts on behalf of Israel and increase its outreach to the Southland’s Jewish community. Within a decade, the Republican said he thought up to half the country’s Jewish vote would go Republican.

“We’ve only just begun,” Greenfield said.

If he sounds a tad boastful, Greenfield supporters would argue that his efforts on behalf of local Jewish Republicans had earned him that right.

In recent months, Greenfield participated in 40 debates from San Diego to San Bernardino to Santa Monica. In preparation, he said he spent upward of 200 hours poring over newspapers, political journals and position papers.

Fueled by an almost messianic need to share with his fellow Jews what he sees as the Republican Party’s commitment to liberty and national security, Greenfield showed a willingness to go anywhere at almost anytime to help nonbelievers see the light.

“He’s indefatigable. He seems to work day and night and is willing to travel to speak for the cause at a drop of the hat,” said Dr. Joel Geiderman, incoming regional chair for the RJC of Southern California. “He’s gotten our name out there in a very positive way.”

For all his enthusiasm about President Bush, Greenfield said he was not surprised his Jewish brethren voted predominantly Democratic. Still, Greenfield said he saw his role as planting the seeds of compassionate conservatism that would one day take root among Jews.

During the dog-day campaign grind, Greenfield gave up more than just sleep in his quest to convince Jews that their future lay with a party headed by a conservative born-again Christian. Greenfield, a Berkeley- and Georgetown-educated attorney, said he sacrificed a hefty lawyer’s salary and a social life to help lead the local Republicans.

It was worth it, he said, because America and Israel’s future were at stake. Failing to fight the good fight in these turbulent times would have been nothing less than negligent, he said.

Donna Bojarsky, a Democratic public policy consultant who advises such celebrities as Richard Dreyfuss, said Greenfield is “one of the most articulate and passionate people the Republicans have out here in L.A. in recent memory.”

“People are shocked by how effective Larry’s been and the community’s response to him,” said Democratic activist Lee Wallach, adding that Greenfield tended to play “loose and fast with the facts.”

Rick Entin, a 44-year-old Pacific Palisades real estate investor and lifelong Democrat, said Greenfield “really opened my mind to a broad range of political thinking, especially as it relates to foreign policy.”

Entin, who met Greenfield seven years ago when both became Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellows, said he voted for Bush — the first time Entin ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate. The president’s willingness to confront anti-Semitism at home and abroad and publicly condemn Yasser Arafat impressed Entin. Still, he said he might never have voted Republican if not for Greenfield’s persuasiveness.

Although he denied harboring any aspirations for higher office, Greenfield has long had an interest in politics. At Berkeley, he gave the commencement speech to political science majors and spoke about the importance of protecting liberty, even citing John F. Kennedy. In the mid-1990s, he chaired a local American Israel Public Affairs Committee leadership committee and traveled around the country on behalf of United Jewish Appeal and Israel Bonds talking about U.S.-Israeli relations.

Greenfield’s heightened visibility in the Jewish community and gold-plated Rolodex of contacts would seem to make him a natural for politics. Dr. Richard Sherman incoming president of the RJC’s L.A. chapter said, “Larry has the strong beliefs, is very determined and hard working, the good qualities of a politician.”

However, critics say Greenfield has several kinks to work out.

While Greenfield prides himself on his ability to have respectful exchanges with those disagreeing with him, detractors say he occasionally becomes overheated and combative during debates. At Sinai Temple, for instance, Greenfield — his eyes bulging and voice tinged with agitation — intimated that Sen. John Kerry and the entire Democratic Party had lurched to the anti-Israel radical left. Greenfield also said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the Americans invaded, a stance putting him at odds with both high-ranking U.N. and U.S. weapons inspectors.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who squared off against Greenfield and Republican strategist Arnold Steinberg at Sinai, said he thought Greenfield took some cheap shots.

“He took whatever question there was and tried to paint it with a broad brush and blame everything on the Democrats,” Waxman said. “I thought he was a little off target.”

On target or not, Greenfield said he has no intention of fading away like yesterday’s campaign literature. There’s too much to be done, too many Jews to try to proselytize. As he sees it, his work has just begun.

But first, Greenfield said he wanted some much needed R & R. With a glint in his eye, the Beverly Hills bachelor said he hoped “to find a sweet girl to take to Maui.”

The Sound


Jazz icon Dave Brubeck says he wanted to construct a musical bridge between Jews and blacks in composing "The Gates of Justice," a 50-minute oratorio celebrating the joint civil rights struggles of the two partners.

A new CD recording of "The Gates of Justice," will be released on Jan. 20, the day after the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The oratorio, featuring the Brubeck Trio, soloists and chorus, is based on biblical and Hebrew liturgical texts, Negro spirituals, quotations from Hillel’s writings and King’s speeches, with additional lyrics by Brubeck’s wife, Iola. It is scored for chorus, jazz trio, tenor and baritone.

Release of the record was announced by the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, which has launched an ambitious project to record the entire range of Jewish musical expression in America over the past 350 years.

During the next two years, 50 CDs with more than 600 first-time or newly recorded works of sacred and secular music will be released and distributed.

Brubeck composed "Gates of Justice" in 1969, when the bond that Jews and blacks had forged during the civil rights struggle were fraying and distrust between the two groups was rising.

To construct a bridge of brotherhood, Brubeck used "a complex of musical styles [jazz, rock, spirituals, traditional]…. Overlaying music from the Beatles, Chopin, Israeli, Mexican and Russian folksongs, Simon & Garfunkel, improvised jazz and rock, I wrote a collage of sounds for the climactic section, ‘The Lord Is Good.’"

Released on the Naxos American Classics label, the recording features the voices of bass baritone Kevin Deas, tenor Cantor Alberto Mizrahi and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and Brass Ensemble, under conductor Russell Gloyd.

The Milken Archive is also releasing the recorded works of Bruce Adolphe on Jan. 20, which includes "Ladino Songs of Love and Suffering," excerpts from the opera "Mikhoels the Wise" and "Out of the Whirlwind," an oratorio on the Holocaust.

"The Gates of Justice" and other CDs in the series are priced at between $6.99-$7.99 each and can be ordered through www.milkenarchive.org, various online retailers and record stores carrying the Naxos Classics label.

Helpful Hints for Dad


Assuming a father already possesses his children’s love, honor and respect, what more could he wish for? How about the power of persuasion? Sure, the little critters might love us, but how can we get them to obey us?

In this quest, fathers of the English-speaking world will find a new book quite helpful — even inspiring. "Words That Shook the World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events," by Richard Greene with Florie Brizel (Alpha Communications), offers the annotated text of modern history’s most memorable spoken words. How did Winston Churchill get the free world to gird itself for battle with a much stronger German foe? How did former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo fire up Democrats at their 1984 convention? What did Ronald Reagan say to comfort a nation and convince its people to support future space travel following the Challenger disaster?

The book collects those speeches, as well as oratory from Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt and Lou Gehrig, among others. Yitzhak Rabin’s call for peace is here, as is Anwar Sadat’s. Finally, there is President Bush’s post-Sept. 11 address to the nation — and we forgot just how effective a speech that was.

The speeches are annotated paragraph by paragraph by Greene, an L.A.-based public speaking coach, who dissects how each address achieved its maximum impact, word by word, image by image. The authors also provide archival photos, historical background and — perhaps best of all — each book comes with a two-CD compilation of the speeches as they were delivered (though actor James Gandolfini stands in for Gehrig, and Edmund Morris for Teddy Roosevelt).

At $50, "Words That Shook the World" may be a splurge, but if it helps dad finally get his way, it’s worth it.

Richard Greene will sign his book at Barnes & Noble, 16461 Ventura Blvd., Encino, 1 p.m., Sat., June 14.

Stone’s ‘Persona’ Wears Out Welcome


In the violence-ridden month of March 2002, which saw the Passover massacre at a Netanya hotel and the siege of Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, filmmaker Oliver Stone traveled to Israel and the West Bank to shoot a documentary on the escalating conflict.

The result is "Persona Non Grata," airing on HBO on June 5, which is neither as pro-Palestinian as Stone’s critics had feared, nor as balanced as his admirers might have wished.

On the positive side, the director of "JFK," "Nixon" and "Wall Street" is careful to give equal time to both sides and he features some of Arafat’s more blood-curdling past speeches to his Arab followers, which are rarely reported in the general media.

The imbalance is in the kind of footage and spokesmen selected to represent the opposite sides. There are extensive scenes of killed and wounded Palestinians, houses demolished, hassles at roadblocks and the constant rumbling of Israeli tanks.

Granted, there are also bloody scenes in the aftermath of the Passover massacre, in which a terrorist killed 29 Israelis celebrating a seder. But the burden of the Israeli case is carried by a series of earnest but undramatic talking heads, mainly Shimon Peres, alternating with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and historian Meir Pail, who is highly critical of Israeli policy.

They are all quite eloquent, especially Peres and Netanyahu, but since each has his own take on the present and future situation, they tend to cancel each other out and likely to confuse the casual viewer.

A somewhat comical refrain is Stone’s increasingly futile and frustrating attempts to finalize an appointment with Arafat.

The most effective Palestinian spokesman turns out to be Abu Kassir, a pseudonym for the masked leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who says he’s just fighting the occupation and simply wants a return to the pre-June 1967 boundaries.

There is a short interview with a spokesman for the political wing of Hamas, who maintains that he knows nothing about the terrorist operations of his organization, but otherwise, the crucial fundamentalist Muslim viewpoint, calling for the destruction of Israel, is omitted.

Stone, working with French and Spanish producers, makes it harder to follow the already complex thread of the story by constantly intercutting between different scenes and spokesmen.

The 75-minute "Persona Non Grata" premieres on HBO on June 5 at 7 p.m., and will be shown again June 8 at 11:15 a.m., June 13 at 6:30 a.m., and June 17 at 2 p.m. Playdates for HBO2 are June 10 at 10:15 p.m., June 21 at 8:15 a.m., and June 30 at 5 p.m.

The Presence of Greatness


Inspirational speeches are sometimes improved by leaving out the words.

Deuteronomy records, for the most part, Moses’ farewell address to his people. He begins by rehashing the events of the last 40 years, a story laden with some nasty national failings. Seeing that his audience at this point is hardly brimming with enthusiasm, he attempts to mollify them, arguing that what God asks of them is really a very small list of requirements that are quite easy to achieve (Deuteronomy 10:12). The first item on his wish list is reverence for God.

The Talmud cries foul. Is reverence of God such a small thing? Well, yes, it concludes. "To a Moses, it is a trifling thing." For the spiritual superstars, goes the usual explanation, reverence for God — i.e., doing exactly what God commands and expects — is no more difficult than smiting the Egyptians with sundry inconveniences. Piece of cake.

I remember well one eveninglong glimpse at greatness.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky was in his 80s when I first met him. At the time (and for many years before) his counsel was sought after more than any other individual in the non-Chassidic world. (Several years after being forced to step down from his official position at the helm of the Torah Vodaas Yeshiva, he asked for his old job back. The board of directors was confused. Had he not retired several years before? "How long can a person stay retired?" was his response.) He had spent a grueling 36 hours on the road, moving from one speaking engagement to another. I had arranged to drive him from Brooklyn to his home in Monsey, N.Y.

Full of nervous excitement, I pulled my old clunker around to the front of the building where he had addressed the final crowd of the day. I opened the front passenger door, but he turned to the rear door, opened it and literally crawled on to the back seat. He emerged with his trademark smile across his face, and explained, "I wanted to make sure that it will be comfortable for my rebbetzin." Leaving me with my jaw hanging, he went back inside, found his wife, escorted her to the back seat of the car, and only then agreed to get in himself.

A friend had persuaded me to allow him to tag along. Both of us had lists of questions, some personal and some general, that we hoped to cram into the journey. We both prayed for heavy traffic.

To be safe, we decided to take a tape recorder along, but we didn’t have the chutzpah to ask permission, so we cut some ethical corners and concealed the machine in one of our pockets. Things worked well for about 45 minutes, until an audible click broke through a rare pause in the conversation.

The broad smile across his face now sported an extra twinkle in his eye. "Oh! So you are recording our conversation? That’s quite all right." The next words are etched permanently in my memory. "Never in my life have I said anything and taken it back later."

We arrived at his home around midnight, fully expecting to discharge our important personage, and to immediately head back to New York. He wouldn’t hear of it, insisting that we come in and rest first before the return trip. Our protests got us nowhere. After sending his wife off to bed, he sat us down, and proceeded to serve us tea and cake. He would not let us help with anything, insisting that it was his mitzvah to serve guests. The conversation was not a brief one. It took quite a while before we persuaded him that it was perhaps time to leave. We said our goodbyes, and headed out to the car. He insisted on walking us to the car, after which he returned to the house. As we readied to back up, we saw Rav Yaakov come back out of the house, hastening to the car. "Are you sure you know the best route back?" he asked before giving us better directions.

My friend and I were floating so high, it was remarkable that the car still hugged the road. We had been inspired by witnessing greatness in action, rather than hearing about it. Our soaring spirits resonated with a different take on the Talmud’s parsing of the passage from our Torah reading. This one argues that the original Aramaic should be translated as "around, or near Moses" rather than "to Moses."

Greatness comes much easier to those who have seen it up close. Scrutiny of contemporary heroes has left most of them resembling a statuary store after an 8.5 tremor. We Jews often forget that our community has an impressive record of producing spiritual titans who stand up to close examination.

And they don’t just live in the past. A few years back, Sam Orbaum of the Jerusalem Post did a story about a remarkable family in Jerusalem who all love Shabbat and love sharing it with guests. So they do — 100 or more per meal, every meal, for 18 years straight. Beneficiaries of their largesse include the homeless, groups of German tourists and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The daughter of Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai Machlis, host and hostess par excellence, will be moving to Los Angeles in a few weeks, as part of the new Westwood Kollel.

Shawn Green move over. You have some real competition coming to town. It should be inspiring for us all.

NPR Reaching Out to Jews, Arabs


National Public Radio (NPR) has mounted a public relations campaign among Jews and Arabs in an effort to avoid being known as National Protest Radio.

At the same moment that the president of NPR was addressing Jewish newspaper editors in Chicago about coverage of the Middle East, the ombudsman for NPR was talking about the very same thing to an Arab group in Washington.

The speeches on June 7 were part of an outreach effort by the nonprofit radio organization to convince its listeners that its reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is both fair and unbiased.

NPR, along with other major media outlets, has been accused by both Jewish and Arab audiences of unfair coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The outreach comes after Jews boycotted some major newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post because of a perceived anti-Israel bias. Arabs have complained bitterly as well, citing what they see as a pro-Israel slant to many stories in the Times and Post, among other media.

Kevin Klose, president and CEO of NPR, acknowledged the complaints against his organization.

“We’re not immune to that,” he said in a telephone interview. “We pay a great deal of attention to criticism.”

Klose, a former reporter and editor at The Washington Post, is looking for more dialogue with both communities, and he believes NPR is trying to be as careful as possible about its reportage.

“But we’re not indifferent to errors,” he said. “We change; we correct the record.”

NPR has hired a public relations firm, DCS Group, that does work for Arab and Jewish groups, including Birthright Israel, to help with its outreach to both communities.

NPR serves an audience of more than 19 million Americans each week via 680 public radio stations and the Internet and in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa through NPR Worldwide.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, the NPR ombudsman, says the outreach effort is to help the organization understand the communities better and to encourage people to help NPR do its job better.

“If there’s a boycott, then it’s too late,” he said.

NPR’s outreach to the Jewish community includes visiting various communities around the country and speaking to the national convention of Hadassah this summer.

Last month, the NPR Web site started posting full transcripts of its reports from the Middle East so people could see the full text, officials said.

While most of the critics respond with letters, e-mail and voice mail complaints, there have been some financial repercussions as well.

Some major donors to a public radio station in the Boston area stopped their funding because of what they saw as an anti-Israel bias in NPR.

At least six underwriters have withdrawn their support to WBUR, according to Mary Stohn, spokeswoman for the local station, adding that other smaller donors had also not renewed their support and the station anticipated further action on the part of both smaller and larger donors.

She said WBUR has already lost at least $1 million in funding because of protests about NPR’s coverage of Israel.

NPR officials said they were not aware of any other stations that have lost funding as a result of their Middle East coverage. And Klose said that in general, financial support for public radio is up.

For their part, some Arab Americans also take issue with NPR’s coverage of the conflict.

Hussein Ibish, communications director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said NPR does not have an anti-Arab bias, but its reporting can be problematic and there is a “radical imbalance” in its commentary.

He said his group makes practical suggestions to NPR and encourages it to do better.

Michael Kotzin, the executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, called for a constructive dialogue between the Jewish community and the media.

Speaking alongside Klose at the American Jewish Press Association meeting last week, Kotzin said the media needed to take a serious look at how they are treating the Middle East conflict.

He also said he was concerned that the media are increasingly dismissive of their critics as “emotional advocates for one side.”

At the same time, he said he believes the Jewish community “needs to demonstrate the same kind of fairness and understanding about the media that we are demanding of them.”

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