Monday’s edition of The Daily Pennsylvanian featured a full-page advertisement from the David Horowitz Freedom Center about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Printed below are letters we received in response to the ad.
Can one organization label another student organization a hate group without provocation? Can one compare the latter’s motives to the ideas of Hitler? Yes and yes. This is, after all, the beauty of our country’s freedom of speech. But should a campus newspaper endorse these ideas of hatred? Well, ignore the rights and focus on the ethics — I hope not.
In Monday’s edition of the DP, I was flabbergasted to find an entire page labeled as “Paid Advertisement” called the “Wall of Lies.” I am but a naive idealist who may or may not agree with those statements, but I strongly disagree with the role of a student newspaper in proliferating hatred.
As I explore the site mentioned at the bottom of the advertisement, I am barely able to stifle my shock. The image on the front page of hooded men with a Qur’an in one hand and a gun in the other makes me cringe. The “Student Guide” calls the Muslim Students’ Association on campuses around the country a Hitler-sympathizing, violent, communal organization that supports terrorism.
Maybe it’s because I’m just an undergraduate freshman, but I haven’t seen the terrorism … yet. Penn MSA’s cultural festivals, family fairs and ice cream socials don’t quite seem to fit the mold. The MSA members I’ve come across do not seem to have horns on their heads. A student organization, consisting of our friends and our classmates, derided and dehumanized to a monstrous level — this is the message the group behind the advertisement spreads. If you don’t respect their religion (one has that freedom after all), at least respect our student body.
I do not know how much a full-page advertisement in color costs, but I don’t think there is a price worth hatred. Nothing can pay for isolating campus groups, hurting others and destroying an idea that should define these so-called elite Ivy walkways — respect.
And yes, one well-designed page of paid hatred is enough to present a daily student newspaper that I once admired as an unprincipled, voracious paper engrossed in bigotry.
Carthi Mannikarottu, College freshman
We are deeply disappointed and disturbed by your decision to publish a paid advertisement for the “Wall of Lies” initiative. The advertisement was both discriminatory and inflammatory.
It is imperative that Penn students speak loudly and clearly against expressions of bigotry targeting broad groups of people — whether they be members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Jews, African Americans or, in this case, Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians. The advertisement espoused sweeping allegations against each of these groups, denigrated crucial elements of the Muslim religious narrative and, perhaps most egregiously, denied the very existence of the Palestinian nation.
Our purpose is not to debate the content of the advertisement, but rather to firmly challenge the DP’s decision to publish it. While articles, opinion pieces and editorials invite responses and conversation, advertisements are typically presented as final and uncontroversial. Though the responsibility for articles ultimately rests with the individuals who write them, advertisements reflect a decision on the part of an entire publication to accept money for the endorsement of a specific viewpoint.
Keeping this in mind, we believe that the DP must make clear its editorial standards regarding inflammatory content and explain to the Penn community its decision to publish this advertisement. We understand that the DP is an independent organization and publishes ads with which it may or may not agree, but we believe that this advertisement violated the very spirit of our campus newspaper, which typically promotes dialogue and informed conversation rather than confrontation and divisiveness.
Most importantly, we seek to understand where the editors at the DP draw the line between inflammatory opinions and hate speech. If it is acceptable to publish an advertisement that questions the existence of the Palestinians, is it therefore reasonable to publish an advertisement that would question the existence of other ethnic minorities? We hold that the answer should be no in all cases. Would the DP argue otherwise?
We sincerely hope to gain greater insight into the editorial decision-making process at the DP and to determine the extent to which we should take steps towards reforming it. While we stand behind the rights of all individuals and organizations to engage in free speech, we — as members of the Penn community — will not stand idly by when hate speech appears in our campus publications.
This letter was written by:
Humna Bhojani, Penn for Palestine president
Leanne Gale, Forum for New Israel Dialogue
Yuval Orr, Forum for New Israel Dialogue
The following people are signatories:
Besan Abu-Joudeh, former Penn Arab Student Society vice president
Maryam Alireza, Penn Arab Student Society co-president
Logan Bayroff, Forum for a New Israel Dialogue president, Kedma editor-in-chief
Rachel Cohen, former Hillel vice president
Josh Cooper, Israel Sector intern
Ian Dubrowsky, Penn for Palestine
Ariel Fisher, former Hillel Education chairman
Leanne Gale, Forum for New Israel Dialogue
Israel Geselowitz, Forum for New Israel Dialogue
Elisheva Goldberg, Kedma editor-in-chief
Sam Greeberg, Forum for New Israel Dialogue
Sarah Ijaz, Muslim Student Association president
Tamar Karpuj, Hillel Israel Sector chairwoman
Will Kearney, former Penn for Palestine secretary
Akiva Sanders, Forum for New Israel Dialogue
James Sawyer, Penn Arab Student Society co-president
Sarah Shihadah, Penn for Palestine, Penn Arab Students Society
Sarah Souli, Penn for Palestine
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.