On September 24th, the Acorn published an article entitled “Hate Speech is not Free Speech. We believe that the article falsely painted Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in an unpleasant manner, and did not capture the many aspects of this event. This article hopes to clarify certain things about the event.
To start with, the article did not accurately reflect the content or the purpose of the event. This became clear when the authors of the article mischaracterized the speaker Miko Peled: “Peled minimized the impact of the Holocaust saying it “wasn’t a big deal,” said Israel was filled with “beggars” and commented on “those blacks in Baltimore” feeling the same persecution that Palestinians faced.” In fact, Peled pointed to the Holocaust as “the greatest tragedy in Jewish History”. Further, Peled’s comment regarding beggars in Israel was made with regard to his assertion that the second greatest tragedy in Jewish History is that of Israel’s mistreatment and marginalization of Arab Jews, who are constantly discriminated against within its borders and left to beg for money. As for the comment concerning the plight of African Americans in Baltimore, Peled never made the statement as it was reported in the Acorn, which was obviously used to depict the speaker as racially insensitive. Nonetheless, Peled did liken the persecution of Palestinians in their homeland to the manner in which African Americans are denied basic rights in theirs. He contended that the heavily armed security checkpoints that Palestinians are forced to go through on a daily basis are increasingly similar to the images one sees in Baltimore or Ferguson, where protesters fighting for their right to equality and safety are met with rubber bullets and tear gas.
The article mischaracterized Peled’s position. It asserted that in Peled’s defense of the tweet, he somehow confusingly interchanged the Israeli identity with the Jewish one, “Peled spent the first 20 minutes of his presentation defending his tweet and clarifying that when he said Jews, he meant the state of Israel . He also said he was being sarcastic.” Peled never made such remarks, additionally he clarified his tweet by asserting that his intention was to expose the ways in which Israel continues to perpetuate Jewish stereotypes through their immoral actions.
We feel that the article failed to maintain objectivity; the opinions or stances of SJP and its members were never addressed and their quotes either disregarded completely or used against them to fit the interests of the authors and their article. SJP’s mission and mission were never mentioned in the article. Drew’s Students for Justice in Palestine is a group of students working towards justice and the recognition of universal rights for all current and displaced residents of historic Palestine. We stand for justice and equality and strongly denounce any form of hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination against any racial, religious, or ethnic group. It is important to note that SJP is a supporter of free speech and condemns all acts of hate speech, we welcomed the protestors to the event and signed–along with the speaker–their banner in show of support of the protestors at the event and in spirit of freedom of speech. Furthermore, an environment for open dialogue was formed at the end of the event, giving students, faculty, protestors, and other guests to engage in conversation not only with the speaker during the Q&A session, but also amongst each other once the event was over. Nonetheless, while SJP stands for free speech and expression, it maintains that certain moral guidelines of objectivity and integrity need to be followed within journalism, morals that have not been met in the coverage of SJP’s event. The speaker’s actions are his own. SJP’s goal is to provide a platform for dialogue and place for education about the situation in Palestine and other places abroad. There is a humanitarian crisis in Palestine today and the goal of SJP will continue to be to bring light to the situation.