April 6, 2012

Letter: Israel-Palestine coverage misinformed

I am writing to express my concern about The Maroon’s journalistic integrity in tackling the Israel-Palestine issue. How can the University of Chicago foster the free and fair spread of ideas if its very own student newspaper does not dare to deviate from a set of unrelated and skewed “talking points”?

This past Monday, students from the University of Chicago and the surrounding community gathered to protest Michael Oren’s idea of peace in the Middle East, which includes, among other things, the continued rejection of international law, the denial of Palestinian civil and human rights, and a full-scale war on Iran. The protesters, chanting for equality and accountability, held signs highlighting how Israel’s financial and military ties to the United States have done more to hinder peace and justice than to guarantee it.

Towards the end of Oren’s talk, a reporter with The Maroon met with me and one other participant to ask what the purpose of the protest was. We explained how Oren’s position endangers the security of millions abroad and in the United States and that we sought to raise awareness about his openly discriminatory platform.

Without following up with a related question, and although we explicitly detailed the purpose of the protest, the reporter asked if we were protesting Israel’s right to exist. Later, she asked if the protestors were calling for a one-state or a two-state solution. It was clear from the start that the interview was less about the protest’s message and more about following a series of overused talking points that discourage any legitimate discourse.

The Maroon’s reporters need to understand that not everything is as urgent as a geopolitical endgame. We are dealing with the abuse of human rights. Although the University of Chicago insists on providing platforms to those who, like Oren and Ehud Olmert in 2009, seek to justify human rights violations against the Palestinian people, it is crucial—for the sake of the “rigorous inquiry” this University aims to promote—to maintain levelheadedness, objectivity, and a sense of journalistic integrity.

In other words, if The Maroon is going to cover a protest that demands rights for the Palestinian people, the campus community should expect reporters to focus on those rights and not to pander to accusations or assumptions that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Sami Kishawi is a third-year in the College majoring in political science.