Guardian Coverage of Israeli Event Was Biased

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my disappointment with today’s cover story on the Guardian. As the newspaper, which is said to represent “The Student Voice Since 1967,” the lack of journalistic integrity and bias that went into this article was simply outrageous. Instead of covering a major policymaker’s speech on campus, as your paper was supposed to do (the event which was put on by UCSD students), your article focused on the protest that went on once the event was concluded. There was not one picture of the ambassador, nor was there any mention of the chancellor’s support and appearance at the event, nor the standing ovations that the ambassador was given. This event was the best thing to ever happen for the pro-Israel movement on campus (which is frequently under attack), and the event was a positive experience for all involved, including the anti-Israel people asking questions.

However, you did not focus on the real story of the ambassador, and instead focused solely on the negative reactions outside by the protesters, including a man not from UCSD named Mahmoud, who you interviewed. He had posted online anti-Semitic statements, such as deliberately pointing out that Oren is a Jew, and frequently accused him of being a Zionist war criminal. He even compared the state of Israel (the country which many of our students and faculty call home) to the Nazi Third Reich. Your article completely revised the history of the event, and I am ashamed and angered that our school newspaper would report so unprofessionally.

Quick point of clarification: One, I’m actually the vice president of off-campus outreach for Tritons for Israel, but any letter submitted to the editor is on behalf of the individual and not on behalf of Tritons for Israel, which does not take a stand on press articles. There were members of TFI who did not think the article was as outrageously unprofessional as I did, and then there were others who did feel it was.

— Sam Spector

Senior, Marshall College

Dear Editor,

I am an active member in Tritons for Israel. I saw today’s article and I think you should be ashamed as to how you portrayed the event.

First off, it was entitled “Israeli Visitor Draws Crowd.” Michael Oren is not an Israeli “visitor.” He is the ambassador to the U.S. from Israel, a country that supports freedom and democracy, condones terror and makes many positive contributions to the world in which we live.

The front cover of the Guardian should not be a picture of the comparatively small amount of protestors outside of our event, but a picture from the back of the auditorium showing Ambassador Oren speaking to the over 400 people in attendance. Showing protestors on the front cover shows that the focus of the event was on the protestors, when in reality, the focus was on the ambassador. Oren gave a great speech with many anecdotes and facts about one of the strongest relationships: the U.S.-Israel relationship.

There is also something noticeably wrong with the picture. You could call it a proportionality problem, but that would be “covering it up.” The Palestinian flag is way too big for the stick that holds it. Also, notice carefully how you can see through the stick and see a sign behind it. All of the sticks that I’ve ever encountered aren’t transparent. Also, the flag covers the title of the newspaper, showing that the newspaper has a political agenda and does not support Israel’s rights.

Another problem with the front page is the caption “Agree to Disagree.” You cite that “Palestinian supporters clashed with Israeli student groups,” when there was no clash whatsoever. When the speech was over, the people who were quietly listening left. The protestors outside used their megaphones to make a whole lot of noise. I know that you write for a newspaper and are tempted to use powerful verbs, but the word “clashed” makes it sound like something actually happened. You yourself said that the protests “did not end in any arrests or major disruptions.”

Overall, the article you wrote was extremely misleading. It ties the Guardian to the pro-Palestinian side by covering the title of the newspaper with the flag and by the obvious photo editing used by the staff. You should also work on presenting first-person observation and not using quotes as evidence. Firsthand accounts are much more accurate than secondhand accounts on an issue. I hope you write in the similar style during Apartheid Week in early May, giving the pro-Israel standpoint of the event.

In sum, you should be ashamed of yourselves. In my eyes, the Guardian has lost all credibility as an unbiased and respected newspaper. The focus of the article and pictures should have been on Israel’s ambassador, not the protest that followed.

— Steven Perlin

Freshman, Revelle College

Dear Editor,

Your coverage in the Guardian of the visit and speech by Michael Oren (Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.) was not only a disgrace to UCSD, but truly shows the anti-Israeli views that the Guardian writers hold. As a former student and current employee of UCSD, I am ashamed of your focus on the negative aspects of the event and obvious bias in your reporting. The Guardian is not a tool for propaganda, or for furthering personal agendas. I am far from being a journalist or a writer, but I believe a 10-year-old could have done a better job at portraying the truth. I am deeply saddened by your decision to publish this joke of an article, and now hope that the Guardian team will take action to right this wrong.

— Alex Ghatan

Alumnus, UCSD

Dear Editor,

My friends and classmates were very disconcerted at the recent article on Michael Oren’s visit to UCSD. We felt that the article was heavily and unfairly biased and strongly misrepresented the details and purpose of the talk. While Tritons for Israel took every step to allow peaceful and free discussion, I feel this article posed a very one-sided and harsh opinion that marred the reputation of all organizations involved. It is for this reason that I kindly ask you to revoke that article.

— Dor Ashur

Graduate student, mechanical engineering