Yesterday, Turkish hackers took down the Times of Israel web site for approximately six hours, replacing its pages with anti-Israel propaganda. In doing so, the attackers showed they did not distinguish between the state and the free press, not unlike Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has imprisoned scores of journalists for refusing to parrot his political line.
“I assume it was not coincidental that this attack on the Times of Israel took place on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a foundational document for the State of Israel,” Times of Israel editor David Horovitz said in a statement. “How unfortunate, and how badly it reflects on them, that the hackers seek to prevent people from reading responsible, independent journalism on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world.”
The key words there that should alert Jewish readers are “the Jewish world.” That’s because the Times of Israel now plays host to an array of crucial Jewish publications from around the globe. This has given these publications the advantage of a fast-loading, high quality user interface for their articles. But it has the disadvantage of tying the fate of these publications to a high value target for international hackers. Thus, when the Times of Israel went down, so did New York’s Jewish Week, New Jersey’s Jewish Standard, Britain’s Jewish News, the Atlanta Jewish Times, and the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.
Going forward, as more and more local Jewish media outlets transition to online only publishing, we can expect more papers to partner with the Times of Israel. Which means that the informational security of the Times of Israel is not simply an Israeli issue—it’s a Jewish one.
If Jewish journalism across the continents is to remain free, then, the Jewish community must invest in its safeguards. At a time when the free press is being assailed by prominent figures in America and abroad, and when too many seek to silence journalists who report uncomfortable facts, we owe ourselves no less.
Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.