We are appalled by the unabashedly biased coverage in the November 21, 2003 edition of the Miami Hurricane of a lecture recently given by a member of the International Solidarity Movement on campus. The misrepresentations of this event contained in both the official Hurricane editorial, “Standing up for the Palestinians,” and Pete Trombadore’s opinion piece, “International solidarity movement, supporter of terrorism, at UM,” can only be described as reckless journalism.
The intention of the presentation was not to provide a detailed history of the Arab-Palestinian conflict or to outline the essential points of recently proposed peace plans such as the quartet sponsored Road Map to Peace. Rather, the purpose was to illustrate the human rights violations being perpetrated by the building of a wall that separates Palestinian farmers from their land and the construction of roadblocks that block Palestinians from traveling within the West Bank.
The ISM speaker made a compelling case for why Israeli government claims that the construction of this wall is purely based on security needs should be viewed with skepticism. A wall solely intended on shielding the Israeli population from terrorist attacks originating in the Occupied Territories would be built along the internationally recognized borders of Israel, as specified in UN resolution 242, which marked the borders of the Israeli state prior to the 1967 war.
Instead, the speaker indicated, this wall cuts deep into Occupied Territory. The immediate effect is that some Palestinian farmers are separated from their land and thus their livelihood. The speaker speculated that the ultimate intention of the wall is to isolate Palestinian urban areas, preclude the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state and lead to a de-facto annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
One of the main criticisms of the speaker’s lecture was that it was “one-sided” because she did not touch upon the struggles of Israeli citizens. Such an argument is comparable to describing a discussion on the Trail of Tears and the systematic mistreatment of the Native Americans as “one-sided” because the discussion did not address the American struggle for independence and the perilous dangers faced in expanding the nation’s borders. The latter topic is included in popular discussion and required within school curricula; whereas the former is considered a marginal issue. It is only appropriate that students improve the intellectual discourse on our campus by providing an opportunity to learn about a side that would otherwise not be discussed.
A quick examination of the ISM’s Mission Statement from December 2002, found on their website,* will reveal that this is an organization focused on bringing international attention to the brutality of the Israeli Occupation through nonviolent means. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that ISM is in any way connected to terrorist organizations and Trombadore’s claim that this organization is “hell-bent on destroying the nation of Israel” is particularly inflammatory.
Trombadore inferred that the internationally recognized right of Palestinians to resist the occupying Israeli army through armed resistance includes the use of suicide bombings against civilian targets. The use of conventional or guerilla tactics to resist the illegal presence of the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories is not only sanctioned by ISM but also by international law; suicide bombings, on the contrary, have no justification under international law. Trombadore’s attempt to use the terms “terrorism” and “resistance to occupation” interchangeably is unacceptable and misleading.
We consider both the official Hurricane editorial and Trombadore’s opinion piece as an example of potentially damaging journalism. The continued existence of organizations such as the Islamic Society of UM, OASIS, and Amnesty International on campus is threatened by such articles and the negative stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs that they perpetuate. In a letter to Thomas Friedman, Nelson Mandela, the South African who led his people against apartheid wrote, “Palestinians are not struggling for a ‘state’ but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.”** Every cause has its radical elements whose actions will serve to detract from the legitimacy of that cause. Yet, our job as students and journalists is to look beyond the surface and oppose injustice wherever it may be found.
Amnesty International, Islamic Society of UM, and