Mondoweiss’s thirteenth birthday has got me thinking—about how a full-fledged news operation with thousands of contributors has emerged from my first experimental efforts as an individual journalist trying to adapt to the internet. We’ve posted a timeline that highlights some key moments in Mondoweiss’s development over this time, but in this message I want to talk about the single most important event in this site’s transformation into a vital part of the alternative media.
On my desk is a paperweight that no one would notice—just a rough yellow stone from a dry climate. The rock was a gift to me ten years ago from Adam Horowitz, soon after he joined me as co-editor of Mondoweiss in our joint quest to share accurate news about Palestine. It is a stone he picked up in the West Bank village of Bil’in, a center for ongoing protests against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. While Bil’in demonstrations have generally been nonviolent, some have included rocks thrown at Israeli forces.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about the rock. A professional journalist whose eyes were opened by the Iraq war, I had a reflexive reaction against any use of violence—even the mainly symbolic act of throwing rocks at heavily armed troops.
But Adam came out of an activist political tradition, working in solidarity with Palestinians under occupation. When we met, he was working for the American Friends Services Committee to raise awareness in the U.S. of conditions in Palestine. Adam himself is about as far from a violent person as I can imagine, but he believes we need to understand the reasons for physical resistance. A literal touchstone, Adam’s gift reminds me always to see the stakes and the massive power imbalance of what the mainstream media euphemistically calls the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The gentle yet firm pressure Adam applied has continued, to the great benefit of both me and the reading public, through all our work together. The two of us share fundamental values and many skills, but we bring very different temperament, experience and networks to this journalistic enterprise. Adam’s history of political advocacy and his sophistication in movement work has complemented my dogged reporter’s commitment to discovery and exposure of facts. And one of us is logical and orderly and thoughtful, the other is passionate and impulsive—I’ll let you guess which is which.
Both of us came to this work as American Jews. I am invested—somewhat romantically—in a positive role for Jews in the world, while Adam has a more millennial perspective: allergic to enchantment and entitlement. Both of us, though, see educating mainstream America about the truth of Palestine as also in the interest of Jews and Americans.
I am forever grateful that I had the instinct to invite Adam to join me and the Mondoweiss community in 2008. His good sense and rock-solid dedication have enabled this news enterprise to grow and reach far, far more people than I imagined we could. Since 2008, we’ve provided our audience with tens of thousands of stories by hundreds of writers, thousands of photos, hundreds of cartoons and videos. And we now have a core team of nine talented people—soon to be eleven!—all of whom are deeply committed to sharing vital information and analysis with the world.
And we’ve helped move the dial, I believe. A few years after Adam gave me that rock, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover article about rock-throwing in Nabi Saleh, saying it was the only way for children who see no future to contend with an occupying army. The Times has backed away from that basic truth again and again, but it’s our job to keep pushing them, other media outlets, the public and governments. We will keep insisting that people understand why desperate youths throw rocks until religious supremacy is defeated.
The growth and maturation of Mondoweiss as a news source has been possible, over these 13 years, because of reader support. We don’t depend on shareholders’ or advertisers’ approval, and we don’t trim our sails to meet the priorities of private foundations, corporate or government funders. But thousands of you have donated—from five dollars to $50,000—to make our work possible. Please continue to support our work spreading the truth about Palestine and the policies that are destroying lives.
Years ago, when I’d been fired for questioning Zionism, I complained to a journalist friend that Palestine was destroying my career. He replied, “What you’ve gotten is better than a career.” And he was right. Thanks to Adam, our readers, and the other capable staff on our team, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to make a difference in one of the great issues of our time. I am grateful every day for your contributions, which enable us to continue this essential work—toward a time of freedom and justice for all in Palestine.