Editor’s Notebook: Accept That the Deal Is Done

Editor’s Notebook: Accept That the Deal Is Done

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

The issue everyone is talking about these days is the Iran deal. People keep asking me why we aren’t writing more about it.

Supporters of the deal are eager for pro-deal opinions to balance out the published criticism. Never mind that no one has submitted such a column.

Proponents also point to reports out of Israel about some national security and intelligence officials expressing support for the deal — often actually opposition to Netanyahu’s opposition.

Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs

But we’ve seen only anti-deal speakers at local events, and the only local congressman who talked to us during a trip to Israel criticized the agreement, as did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a U.S. webcast. So most of the limited news we have published has been anti-deal.

Still, opponents wonder why we haven’t relentlessly attacked the deal and covered every disturbing nuance and every Iranian call for the destruction of Israel or the United States. And why did we report on a small number of rabbis backing the deal instead of all the others opposing it?

The answer to both sides is the same.

Our forte is not international diplomacy and security. The same is true for every other source for local news, from the Sandy Springs Reporter to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to local TV newscasts.

None of us has a reporter assigned to the State Department, CIA, IAEA, Mossad or any Middle East capital. The AJT has contact with analysts, experts and well-traveled laypeople who can offer informed opinions, but those opinions usually aren’t news.

We could strayed from our core mission of covering the local Jewish community and, in the interest of our secondary focus on Israel, set aside space each week for the deal. We could have compiled press releases and poll numbers and pronouncements from Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

As editor, I chose not to go that way.

The deal is done. Whether it’s good or bad became irrelevant before the text was even released when Obama vowed to veto any anti-deal action. Congress is likely to vote against the deal, but Congress is not overriding a presidential veto.

I wish the United States had kept the Iranians talking for another year and let the sanctions work their magic; maybe Iran would have agreed to limits that put it 25 years away from a nuclear arsenal instead of 10 to 15 years. But Iran was never giving up its nuclear program.

We shouldn’t have ended the ballistic missile embargo under the agreement, especially if we had to leave out Iran’s support of terrorists and holding of American hostages on the theory that the negotiations were only about the nuclear program.

But the Jewish community should be focusing energy on what happens after the deal goes into effect instead of spending millions of dollars to save or defeat it. Just think of all the good $10 million to $40 million could do if invested in development projects in the Negev or the Galilee instead of D.C. politics.

By the same token, I think our limited news space has been and will continue to be better spent on local stories we report than on secondhand stories about the struggle to pass or block the deal. We welcome opinion pieces on any aspect of the deal or what comes after, but as the congressional votes near, we’ll use the improved atlantajewishtimes.com to keep you up to date while we concentrate our reporting for the newspaper here at home.

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