Letter to the Editor: The Daily has an Israel problem

In light of the article “Tufts Police Chief travels to Israel for counterterrorism seminar” from Jan. 26 and the recent article “Students, staff, administration respond to TUPD counterterrorism training” from March 8, one thing has become absolutely clear: The Tufts Daily has a bias against Israel.

It is one thing to publish a series of opinion pieces against Israel, it is another to publish those anti-Israel opinions as facts of news stories and features. Op-eds are a completely valid forum to express the wide range of opinions that exist on this campus. And while op-eds might not always be effective in gaining support or awareness of an issue, they do as they are supposed to do: inform of the opinions on this campus.

However, news stories are different. They have a responsibility to inform, and not misinform, the public, however that may look like. In this case, misinforming the public looks like this: taking as fact a campaign known as “Deadly Exchange” based entirely not on facts but anti-Israel sentiment, shortening the lone pro-Israel student response to a few essentially irrelevant lines and giving as much space as possible for anti-Israel student groups to spread their hateful rhetoric without challenge in the most widely circulated publication at Tufts.

As an Israeli student, perhaps the most personally insulting thing was how the Daily freely labeled anti-Israel groups on campus as ‘activist’ groups. The implication is obvious: If you support Israel, you are regressive. If I choose to openly identify as Israeli, thereby accepting the legitimacy of Israel, I am seen as undermining the efforts of proactive student activists.

And that is off the Jan. 28 article alone. The Tufts Daily doubled down on its stance on March 8. Not only was the student response against the “Deadly Exchange” petition limited, it was completely absent. Readers were only shown Professor Amahl Bishara (and therefore a much more authoritative source than any student could be) repeating a similar narrative to the “Deadly Exchange” campaign: a grossly inaccurate characterization of the Anti-Defamation League’s NCTS counter-terrorism training seminar and Israel’s security framework in general.

The March 8 article’s portrayal of the petition sounds like there is no student opposition. No part of the article mentions, for example, how several students actively opposed the petitions’ association of the DACA issue to that of Israel/Palestine. While it is important to advocate on behalf of DACA, especially in light of the recent “expiration” of DACA work permits and the deportation threats made by the Trump administration, it is an inappropriate and false juxtaposition to Israel’s security framework. It is a stretch to loosely connect an urgent issue to a faulty campaign in order to make that campaign appear more legitimate. Furthermore, it does not help that the Daily article’s final line effectively serves as an advertisement that the petition “is still open for new signatures.”

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is not an issue that can be tread upon lightly, regardless of the size and specificity of the case. It has become a cliché phrase of mine, but the conflict has gone on for over 70 years; it is not going to be solved in a day. One Daily article or one petition is not going to change the playing field. Therefore, the Daily should stick to its journalistic responsibilities. Highlight both sides and accurately inform the public, or stay clear of the conflict.