In response to “Defining the Dialogue: Part 1”
On May 24, during Palestinian Awareness Week, City on a Hill published a piece called “Defining the Dialogue: Part I” with the subhead “Anti-Semitism in the Quarry and the Classroom,” that presented a decidedly one-sided portrayal of the controversy surrounding criticism of Israeli policy on college campuses and allegations of anti-Semitism. The article was meant to be the first in a three-part series and focused on a civil rights complaint against UCSC that claims university-sponsored events critical of Israeli policy, or related to the Palestinian narrative, make for an “anti-Semitic” climate for students. The article included quotes maintaining that “advocating on behalf of the Palestinians is advocating against a certain people and a certain national group [with] which many on this campus identify,” a statement that in our opinion stigmatizes activism related to the Palestinian people as racist by nature. Members of the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP), a campus Palestinian rights group, were also interviewed months in advance for the story but neither the author nor editors saw fit to include any of their statements in the first segment. The timing of the piece and the lack of balance in terms of its content had an immediate and negative effect on many UCSC students involved in Palestinian Awareness Week and similar activities. Recognizing this, the CHP editors wrote a public apology for the timing of the article and stated that they were holding off on part 2 so they could publish 2 and 3 together for a “complete story.” However, they have since notified representatives of the Committee for Justice in Palestine they will likely not publish the second two parts of the story until September as they do not believe the article is complete.
While we appreciate that editors may be trying to protect the journalistic integrity of their publication by not rushing to print, we believe they have directly endangered that same integrity by only providing one side of a very complex and far reaching story that impacts many in our community.
As students in solidarity with Palestinian rights on this campus we stand firmly against all forms of racism. We come from a variety of backgrounds that include not only many Palestinian and Jewish students, but representatives of a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Since coming to UCSC we have seen our Palestinian friends pushed, spat on, cursed at, and face racially charged accusations of supporting terrorism when publicly speaking out against the oppression of their people. Unfortunately, in many cases the campus administration and student leadership have done little to condemn or respond to these issues. Simultaneously we are also currently forced to combat the false notion that criticism of the Israeli government policies is tantamount to anti-Semitism, and that by engaging in Palestinian solidarity work we are also engaging in hate speech. It is because of this atmosphere of intolerance towards Palestinian students and Palestinian activism, on our UC campuses and beyond, that we feel we must speak out about the recent decision made by the leadership of CHP to first publish a story that problematized Palestinian advocacy on campus, and then to indefinitely delay publishing a piece detailing the experiences of Palestinian students on campus that would have provided much-needed balance to the first article. It is our belief that any real discussion of campus climate related to these issues must be inclusive of all of the groups affected. Unfortunately, we feel that recent CHP attempts to “Define the Dialogue” have been extremely harmful to Palestinian students as well as their allies, and we call on the publication to engage in a more equitable discussion of campus climate for all students.