College newspapers across the nation are being accused of becoming forums for anti-Palestinian propaganda this fall due to ads for Campustruth.org. The ad claims to be spreading the truth about Israeli-Palestinian relations, but students are finding the ads to be nothing more than a biased outlook intended to generate hard feelings against Palestinians.
Pete Beatty, editor in chief of The Chicago Maroon at the University of Chicago, said he does not see a purpose in the advertisement. “The text itself is a dangerous generalization.”
The Maroon ran the ad despite reluctance from the editorial staff, Beatty said, and it was discontinued two issues later after angered students called, e-mailed and visited The Maroon to express their objections to the ad.
One version of the ad, which ran in student newspapers for the universities of Chicago, Illinois and Maryland, as well as The Michigan Daily showed Israelis mourning on Sept. 11 while armed Palestinians celebrated. Another widely-run version showed an Israeli athlete regarded as a hero to Jewish children, and a suicide bomber as the hero of Palestinian children.
Marcella Rosen, president of Campustruth.org, defends the nature of the ads. “It’s powerful advertising. You see something quickly and it’s intended to make you think,” Rosen said.
College campuses provide a responsive atmosphere for advertising like this to make an impact, she added. Rosen said the advertising campaign is in defense of the Israeli nation. “The Palestinians started this battle on campus. We were forced to respond,” she said.
College campuses have been the site of both Israeli and Palestinian demonstrations in the past. In April, 79 students were arrested at the University of California at Berkeley when a Palestinian rally turned into a verbal clash with hundreds of students supporting Israel.
The conflict as it exists on campus is one of words, Rosen said, “It’s awful but it’s going on.”
Beatty said intention of the ad is to upset people. He added that the staff of The Maroon expected to receive some criticism for the ad, but “Those who say that our running the ad is an implicit approval on our part of the ads’ content are breaking through the wall between a newspaper’s editorial content and advertising content.”
The Chicago Maroon received a variety of criticism and after speaking with the Chicago chapter of the Muslim Student Association, the editorial staff hasn’t lost any standing with the students, Beatty said.