Response from the Nation Magazine
LETTER FROM THE NATION EDITOR REGARDING THEIR DECISION TO PUBLISH THE FLAME AD
Smoking Out FLAME
The inside back cover ad by a group called FLAME, which appeared in our January 9/16 issue, sparked a flurry of "How could you!" (or worse) e-mails from our readers. The ad, which purports to expose propaganda circulated by Palestinians (the most blatant of which, according to the ad, is that these nonexistent Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the land that eternally belongs to Israel), is, we believe, historically inaccurate and arguably mendacious. From our point of view, it purveys one of the most destructive myths of Israel‘s right wing, namely, that Palestinians have no legitimate national rights. This myth has long been a drag on efforts for a peaceful solution to the conflict. So how, you might ask, can we run such an ad? We run it because The Nation‘s ad policy starts with the presumption that “we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to those of the editors.” (And let‘s be clear: The editors find the views of FLAME quite repugnant.) We do impose limits on commercial ads, barring, for example, those that are false, lurid or patently fraudulent, illegal or libelous. However, ads that present a political point of view are considered to fall under our editorial commitment to freedom of speech and, perforce, we grant them the same latitude we claim for our own views. But we do reserve the right to denounce the content of such ads, just as our editorials denounce ideas we abhor. And that is what we do here.
Although we reserve the right to turn down ads on a case-by-case basis, we do so in the context of our overriding commitment not to censor advertisers with whom we have a political disagreement.