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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Letter to the Editor regarding Israel and Palestine

Dear Editor-in-Chief,

We read with both interest and considerable distress your article entitled: “Students for Justice in Palestine Hold Memorial for Martyrs in Palestine.” It is important to report on what is happening on campus, and clearly this is an important event, given that many people including students and faculty have suffered and are suffering as a result of the terrible events occurring in Israel and Palestineevents which have led to thousands of deaths, countless shattered lives and despair for this tortured region of the world.

What we cannot understand, however, is why in framing the event, you left out critical pieces of information that might have been useful for increasing understanding and constructive engagement among communities with different thoughts on the conflict. Perhaps most egregiously, you begin the article by saying that innocent civilians have died at the hand of the Israeli occupation since the attack on the Gaza strip on Oct. 7. This, of course, is a factually incorrect statement. There was no attack on the Gaza strip on Oct. 7. Oct. 7 is the day that Hamas crossed into Israel and slaughtered roughly 1,200 people. Israel’s direct response to this massacre occurred after this Hamas attack in the days and weeks that followed.

While people have a right to their opinion, they do not have a right to their own set of facts, and as an editor of a paper, you are obligated to at least present basic facts correctly and not resort to hyperbole in describing current events. The language that you have chosen to use in this article is intentionally or unintentionally distorting and inflammatory, and frankly contributes to an environment where some students, primarily Israeli and those Jewish students with a connection to Israel, feel physically threatened and therefore unsafe on campus.

The campus and The Mass Media are saturated with articles, rallies, posters, exhibits and even classroom content that presents exactly one narrative, namely the anti-Israeli one, while completely ignoring the Israeli narrative. As an example, most newspapers make it a practice to solicit multiple perspectives on contentious issues so that a fulsome consideration of the issues can be had. Because this is not the practice on our campus, this sends a message that no other voices are worthy of being heard. We know of Jewish students who feel that the campus is so hostile to their identities and the views that they hold, that they have stopped coming to class. Other students are scared to display anything identifying themselves as Jewish, such as a kippah, or to hold events on campus. The campus should be a place for free exchange of ideas, for learning from each other and deepening our understanding of the experiences and perspectives of all.

All this is occurring against a backdrop of rising antisemitism across U.S. campuses that has reared up just at the time when this conflict began, thus exposing the claims of some that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are completely unrelated. What we are asking is that as an editor of a student newspaper, you have a duty to your readership, i.e., to the campus community as a whole, to present in print positions expressing the views of the two principal antagonists in the current war. In the end, this will help lead to constructive and meaningful dialogue between people with alternative views on campus.

Respectfully,

UMass Faculty:

Marc Cohen (Department of Gerontology)

Nir Eisikovits (Department of Philosophy)

Joel Fish (Department of Mathematics)

Jonathan Frankel (Department of Management Science & Information Systems)

Nurit Haspel (Department of Computer Science)

Jeffrey Keisler (Department of Management Science & Information Systems)

Nelson P. Lande (Department of Philosophy)

David Levy (Department of Management)

Edward Miller (Department of Gerontology)

Steve Millman (Department of Psychology)

Pamela Nadash (Department of Gerontology)

Maxim Olchanyi (Department of Physics)

Nina Silverstein (Department of Gerontology)

 

The Mass Media’s response