A second wave of controversial advertisements appearing in college newspapers across the country – which some students say depict Palestinians as terrorists – has stirred debate about whether newspapers should continue to run the paid ads.
Funded by campustruth.org, an advertisement printed last Thursday in The Michigan Daily showed a picture of an Olympic athlete in front of the Israeli flag, accompanied by the words “Israeli school children’s hero,” while an adjacent picture showed a man and a machine gun next to the words “Palestinian school children’s hero.” Below the pictures are the words “There are two sides to every story, but only one truth.”
LSA senior Bashar Al-Madani said the ads are offensive to the Arab and Muslim communities on campus. “The complexity of the world cannot be divided into right or wrong. The website is even more offensive and serves in their (campustruth.org) cause to convince everyone that Palestinians are evil people,” Al-Madani said.
Business Manager Jeff Valuck, said the Michigan Daily business staff decided last night to temporarily suspend running the advertisements. Valuck said that last fall, the business staff re-evaluated its decision to run the campustruth.org ads because of the large amount of and wide range of negative feedback received from students. “We must reconsider running the ads if the University community does not want them,” Valuck said.
Yulia Dernovsky, who co-chairs the American Movement for Israel, said that the ads are neither effective nor positive to the movement’s cause, which seeks to educate about the Middle East conflict. “I personally felt the ads were offensive and evoked certain feelings that are not necessarily fair to the Palestinians,” Dernovsky said.
The campustruth.org advertisements have been running in college newspapers since last fall. Editors of The Daily Illini – the student newspaper of the University of Illinois – issued a statement deciding to continue running the ads, although there were student protests on campus in December. The Daily Targum, the student newspaper of Rutgers University, adopted a disclaimer policy to place on potentially controversial or advertisements of an offensive nature, according to a statement in November. The University of Chicago’s student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon, decided to stop running the ads in November.
But Michigan Zionists President Rick Dorfman said the ads should not be censored. “Calling for the censorship of advertisements is a flagrant violation of the freedoms of our great nation, and is further indication of the vile hatred of America that exists within the Palestinian community,” Dorfman said.
In October, the Michigan Daily ran 10 campustruth.org advertisements.
Omar Khalil, vice president of the Muslim Students Association, said he was upset by the advertisements but was pleased that the advertisements were temporarily suspended in The Michigan Daily.
“It’s a great first step that The Daily has responded to the concern of the students.” Khalil said.
Marcella Rosen, of the One Truth Foundation, which sponsors the campustruth.org advertisements and website, said in a December statement that discussed the reaction to the ads. “Our goal was to make sure that other opinions were heard. Our opponents have chosen not to debate the facts presented by the ads, but have responded with intellectual intimidation and obfuscation and equating any pro-Israel fact or opinion with “racism,” Rosen said.