Stop Publishing the FLAME Advertisements
This petition had 200 supporters
Racism has been allowed to cozy up to our student paper. The Diamondback has published a series of advertisements paid for by a far-right think tank called FLAME (“Facts and Logic About the Middle East”) that whitewashes the documented human rights violations of Israel.
These ads are anti-Arab, Islamophobic propaganda. One ad, published in the September 30th, 2013 edition of the paper, begins by denying the existence of the Palestinian people—it characterizes all Arabs as a monolithic group of people with no cultural, historical, or linguistic distinctions. So, it follows, the Palestinian people don’t exist —therefore Israel really is a land without a people for a people without land. Except that, inconveniently for the FLAME’s narrative, Palestinians have lived on that land for centuries, and are in fact a distinct people with a rich culture.
The ads continue by denying that the West Bank or the Gaza Strip have ever been occupied territories—ignoring that the United Nations, Amnesty International, and virtually the entire international community consider the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem to be territories militarily occupied by Israel in violation of international law. Amongst other things, these ads allege that while Israel has always vouched for peace, their efforts have been thwarted by “the Arabs,” who just refuse to sit down and negotiate, when in fact for more than 63 years Israel has been disposing Palestinians, expelling them from their land and homes, creating one of the largest and longest standing populations of displaced persons in the world with 6.6 million refugees and 427,000 internally displaced persons. Israel, as an occupying power, has an obligation to obey international law -- including withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories and respecting the human rights of refugees.
It’s troubling that the Diamondback published these advertisements for several reasons. First, they alienate many students on campus—for example, those who would take offense to using phrases such as “Arab aggression” or “Muslim terror” or “the unrelenting hatred of the Arabs against the Jews” to generalize the beliefs of all Arabs and Muslims. Secondly, our student paper should never condone hate speech, racism, Islamophobia, or imperialism. Yet by agreeing to publish ads that support all of these things in return for money, it’s done just that. That is unethical.
This is not the first time that students have had an issue with the Diamondback publishing FLAME ads. In 2011, students formed the “End Hate Speech at UMD” coalition in response to the ads, pressing the Diamondback for an apology. The Student Government Association also passed a unanimous resolution condemning the ads as hate speech and calling for the Diamondback’s advertising department to refrain from publishing any more ads by FLAME.
At the time, the Diamondback argued that “…We believe it is FLAME’s right to publicize its subjective opinion, just as it would be a pro-Muslim organization’s right to publicize an alternative viewpoint.”
We hope that the current editorial board can understand that this is about the ethics of running a paper, and ensuring that the experiences of an oppressed people are not marginalized by racist propaganda. Hate speech is not a respectable “subjective opinion”, and the Diamondback has no obligation to publish a paid advertisement advocating racist views. We would deplore any group’s decision to publish racist ads, including a “pro-Muslim organization.”
We therefore call on the Diamondback to discontinue the publication of these advertisements, and to stand with the student body and 2011 SGA resolution in opposing hate speech.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UMD
Organization of Arab Students, University of Maryland Chapter
Black Male Initiative at UMD
Political Latinos United for Movement and Action in Society
Gamma Phi Sigma "Hermanos Unidos" Fraternity Inc.
Coalition of Latino Student Organizations
Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Incorporada
Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc.
International Socialist Organization, University of Maryland Branch
Student Labor Action Project at UMD
Legitimizing and Unifying a Network of Undocumented Americans
Muslim Student Association
Society for Hispanic Engineers at UMD
J-Street at UMD
Iranian Students' Foundation
Pakistani Student Association
Asian American Student Union
Bengali Student Association
D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) Coalition of Students for Justice in Palestine and Students Against Israeli Apartheid
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