To the editor:
We are extremely concerned over the publication of a series of half-page ads for campustruth.org — an organization that demonizes Palestinians as mindless terrorists — as well as the News’ worrisome response to Sam Freeman’s complaint letter, “advertisements merit explanation.”
The first published Campus Truth ad juxtaposed two photos, both dated Sept. 11, 2001, the first showing Israelis mourning the victims of Sept. 11, and the second, a photograph of Palestinians in Lebanon, celebrating the attack, assault rifles in hand. The slogan at the bottom reads “there are two sides to every story, but only one truth.” The message, presumably, is that the only “truth” about Palestinians is that they are violent, and that they, out of utter baseness, celebrate the deaths of thousands of Americans while Israelis, on the other hand, mourn with the rest of the world. This false and simplistic representation of Palestinians can only be qualified as racist.
Putting aside the questionable authenticity of the photograph (CNN and other news networks ran videos of Palestinians supposedly celebrating the attacks on Sept. 11, but later retracted them when commentators discovered that most of the footage dated back to the Gulf War), we find it disturbing that the News has published an ad that does nothing but incite hatred and violence towards Palestinians.
The First Amendment defends controversial and offensive expression, and therefore, Campus Truth has every right to advertise its material in the News’ pages. However, the First Amendment does not require the News to publish the ad. Indeed, the News’ own terms and conditions are clear on this point: “the Yale Daily News may decline to accept advertising that is misleading, inaccurate or fraudulent; that makes unfair competitive claims; or that fails to comply with the News’ standards of decency and dignity.”
Given Yale Daily News publisher Christian Schaub’s response to Sam Freeman’s letter “Advertisements merit explanation,” it is clear that Schaub did not look at the paper’s own rules and regulations. Referring to the ads in question, he recognizes that they are “somewhat misleading” even though the News’ regulations stipulate that the publisher can ‘decline to accept advertising that is misleading.’ Schaub maintains that the ads are not racist, even though most would qualify a ‘misleading’ depiction of an entire population as mindless terrorists as racist.
We are displeased and disappointed that Schaub would ‘not hesitate to run similar ads on the other side of the issue’ because depicting Israelis as mindless terrorists is equally dangerous and equally false. We also refuse to believe that the Campus Truth ads met the “News’ standard of decency and dignity” because they propagate false and extremely offensive stereotypes. As concerned members of the Yale Community, we ask that the News to account for its decision to publish the Campus Truth ad and explain how the ad met its standards of decency and dignity. The ad in question only hinders informed and sophisticated discussion about complex global issues by making generalizations that can only be considered racist.
Arab Students’ Association at Yale College
Yale Middle East Law Forum
Black Law Students’ Association
The Muslim Students’ Association
Yale Undergraduate Friends of Turkey
Students for Justice in Palestine
Concerned Black Students
Undergraduate Organizing Committee
International Students Organization
Yale Coalition for Peace
The Pan-Ethnic Coalition
Jews for Justice
November 9, 2003