Hey, Hillel members, these guys are much hipper and more righteous than you

Letters like this are not what you’re supposed to sign when you’ve been writing/editing stories (Dave Gruber, Simon Lewsen, Martin Lukacs) relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or might want to write/edit them in the near future (Max Halperin).

They can get that from many journalistic codes of ethics, including the SPJ’s, which states that

Journalists should […] — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

Or closer to home, the ethics code of the Canadian Association of Journalists states:

We will not participate in demonstrations or sign petitions if there could be an appearance of conflict with our role as fair and impartial journalists.

Or they can take the advice of Amanda McCuaig, President of The Daily’s own news organization, the Canadian University Press (CUP). She mentioned to me in an email a while back:

Really though, avoid writing news on something you’re too close to. Features, opinions, etc are fine, just be sure to let the reader know.

Besides the issue of journalistic integrity and conflict of interest, there’s a phrase in the letter that seems to forswear all “Israeli military invasions or embargoes of Gaza,” as though under any circumstances. The people at the left-wing Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz would not be impressed.

(And columnist Bradley Burston might share with them his sad but realistic assessment of Israel’s alternatives, “Nine immoral solutions for Gaza — a guide.”)

But since they’ve already crossed a line for journalists, to advertise themselves as good humanists, I assume they’re writing a similar letter in response to

  • the virtually daily firing of qassam rockets into Sderot; the recent firing of grad missiles into Ashekelon, which killed a university student;
  • Hamas’ violation of their under-the-table ceasefire with Israel after 5 [CORRECTION: 4] days;
  • Hamas’ recent admission that they have been sending large amounts of fighters to Iran for training;
  • and the recent shooting spree at a yeshiva in Jerusalem that killed eight.

This deliberate killing of young teenagers at the yeshiva was praised by representatives from all major Palestinians political factions, including some from the “more moderate” Fatah. But the act was condemned unequivocally and without relativism by one Kuwaiti (!) newspaper, which did not align the Israeli military’s firing at rocket squads that operate near civilians with Palestinian attacks on civilians. The Kuwaiti op-ed rejected the “cycle of violence” argument that underlies the letter with The Daily signatories.

… On the other hand, The Daily has responsibly appended the Errata to the online copy of one of the articles in which the signatories had a hand. I don’t think they did so before they printed my letter referring readers to the post about errors in the Rachel-Corrie-and-Anne-Frank-are-soul-sisters article, but regardless, they did the right thing.

[UPDATE: Adam Blander, Israel Affairs representative of Hillel, sends me a link to a response he signed in The Gazette’s letter column … So yes, Hillel was way more on top of McGill-related letters to the press than The Daily Watch.
— I think it’s a good response, although I wouldn’t have identified the meaning of the phrase “struggle for freedom” in the original letter the same definitive way the Hillel officers did. The different signatories of the first letter probably had different views of what constitutes authentic “struggle.” Some of those views were perhaps more humane than others. ]

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